This is the fourth in a series of repeated posts (e.g. published elsewhere before) from outside of China, detailing the start of my expatriate life. There will always be a post a day about China so if you’re not interested in other material – you can stop reading now.
Of course things changed in the second month, the business finally seems to realise that we are here, and we are put to work.
I am dismayed to learn that despite my background in systems, product and soft skills, they want me to become the “process” trainer. A fate worse than death, it is to this individual that good ideas are sent to die, in particular they want to train everybody, in every process including all the bits that don’t concern them. Or… in layman’s terms, they want me to lock people up and feast on their souls while showing them long boring flowcharts for 3 days at a time. I immediately resolve to get rid of this task because I do not like being spat on by my colleagues.
I am also given the unenviable task of creating the training plan for the Enterprise (or business sales) division. And it is this job which I must start immediately, so I am sent to a meeting with around 30 people to determine the systems training needs for the product marketing team.
What a ridiculous meeting this turns out to be. The product marketing manager is insane, a small Australian chap of Singaporean descent, he is quite brilliant when it comes to his field, however it becomes rapidly clear that his team have done no work and he intends to cover this by demanding training in everything for all of them. Their job is to specify the products we will sell (akin to reading a lot of catalogues picking the one you like best and then deciding how much extra you will charge over what you have paid for them), they seem pretty unclear as to what these are (my cat could do this job…)
So he demands I send them on the full billing systems course, all 30 of them, the only problem is that this course costs around $50,000 a head, and lasts for nearly 2 months. I explain that this is as likely as finding Narnia in the back of his wardrobe, and ask for him to supply his processes so that we can determine what he needs. The meeting rapidly turns into farce from here on in; ending with his echoing cries of “I don’t have to show you my processes; I don’t have to show you my processes.”
Oh dear, what on earth have I got myself into? Luckily for me, his team resent him, and are in jovial spirits after the meeting as they feel I have come off best in the exchange. I go out to lunch with them all and during lunch I persuade them it is essential that I become the product trainer for the whole business and that they must insist on this with HR, they agree and the nightmare of processes are passed onto another trainer.
Unfortunately for them, they will mess this up even worse than I would. Mainly because they have no idea how to train, and a three day course is way beyond their skills. But never mind this is no longer my problem.
From then on, it’s all plain sailing, product training is the easiest thing on earth, you steal the manufacturers material, re-write it a little, pretend that you’ve worked for weeks and then go out and deliver it to everyone in the business.