Welcome to ISPI’s Organizational Spotlight! This column focuses on our members–some you may know, some you may not. Each month, we will explore what brought them to ISPI, how they use the principles of human performance technology (HPT), and their insights into the value of membership. This month our interview is with Ms. Hong Yi who serves as a Vice President and board member of Sinotrac Consulting Company Ltd.

Does Sinotrac Consulting Company Ltd. (Sinotrac) work locally? Nationally? Internationally? Globally? How does your organization approach human performance technology in each of these landscapes? Is it different? How so?

Sinotrac is a management consulting company based in Beijing, China. We provide professional talent development solutions and performance consulting services to both domestic and foreign companies operating in China. Our clients include multinational companies (Nokia, ABB, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Bausch & Lomb, and Samsung), state-owned enterprises (CNPC, SinoPec, China Mobile, China Unicom, Beijing Capital International Airport, Sinotrans, ICBC, China Construction Bank and Konka), and other domestic Chinese companies (China Merchants Bank, China Minsheng Bank, Lenovo, Baidu, and TCL).

These clients are located all over China. To ensure sufficient interactions with clients for the purposes of HPT application, we have opened a branch in Shenzhen (Southern China) and are currently in the process of creating branches in Shanghai (Eastern China) and Chengdu (Western China). In addition, Sinotrac has established an American branch, with the primary goal to facilitate communication between Sinotrac’s partners in the US and our clients in China. Specifically, we focus on introducing the HPT related resources to China, and meanwhile, summarizing and sharing our experience with HPT application in China to the rest of the world.

How does Sinotrac adapt to performance improvement needs for the today’s variety of generational workforces?

The variety of employees is indeed a major characteristic of today’s workforces in China. On one hand, the same organizations may have employees of different age groups; on the other hand, a certain generational cohort may prefer a certain type of organization and thus creates unique challenges. For example, most employees in many state-owned enterprises served by Sinotrac were born in the 1960s and 1970s. For them, job security is the number one concern. Therefore, when conducting performance improvement projects with those state-owned enterprises, we take baby steps and provide sufficient communication to make people feel safe and ensure a smooth transition. In contrast, when working with many web-based and IT companies, we emphasize innovative approaches and beneficial changes. Because most employees of the IT companies were born in the 1980s and 1990s, they are more comfortable with change and eager to participate. Our long-term goal is to develop a variety of performance improvement models to fit into the needs of different types of workers.

How do you use social media in your work? As a resource? As a solution?

First and foremost, we treat social media as a resource useful for acquiring information. Meanwhile, we use social media in our consulting and training services as one of the solutions for facilitating communication. For example, when we worked with Samsung on the OPDP project (a sales force performance improvement project), we faced the challenge of communicating with frontline salespeople located in 40 cities around the nation in a timely manner. To resolve the problem, we created a communication platform using BBS, which ensured adequate communication and successful execution of the project. We also used social media in multiple projects with China Merchants Bank. These projects focused on leadership and performance improvement of branch managers of the bank and required lots of involvements from them. Due to the busy schedules of many participants, however, we were struggling at the very beginning to ensure sufficient communication. One solution was the creation of a project group using Weibo (a site similar to Twitter in the US), which was welcomed and fully appreciated by the participants. The Weibo solution succeeded by taking advantage of the participants’ fragmented time.

What is your favorite CPT/HPT story?

Among the many HPT stories, the one with Bausch & Lomb is my favorite. I still vividly remember, in 2006, Bausch & Lomb approached us as their market share dropped from 60% to 30% due to the recall of ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens cleaning solution. Their initial request was to launch a training campaign to eyeglasses retailers nationwide as a means to recover their confidence in Bausch & Lomb.

After our investigation, we did not think a generic training campaign was the solution. Instead, we applied the HPT principles, identified four critical stages of the retailers’ value chain (attracting consumers, optometry, glasses making, and repeat purchase), and developed a course named “Management Practices to Overcome Performance Bottleneck”. For example, in the attracting consumers stage, we conducted situational and market segmentation analyses, identified gaps, and designed solutions. These efforts changed the eyeglass retailers’ attitude from “passively waiting” to “actively attracting” consumers to their outlets. As these approaches were proven beneficial to sales results, they were well received by the eyeglasses retailers. Consequently, Bausch & Lomb successfully improved its channel partners’ confidence, enhanced its own brand image, and ultimately, market share. At the end of the year, this project won a global award from Bausch & Lomb headquarters. In 2007, the course we developed was translated into English and promoted to Bausch & Lomb SBUs worldwide.

What excites you about ISPI’s work?

I like ISPI’s annual performance conference, seminars, and webinars. These events create opportunities for us to learn and communicate with fellow professionals in the HPT area. Further, we have been especially impressed by ISPI’s support on promoting the HPT concept and application in China. Sinotrac organized two major promotional events of HPT in 2011. The first seminar was in April and Dr. Miki Lane, the then ISPI president, made the keynote speech. The second event was in October, and we had Dr. Judy Hale, the current ISPI president, as the keynote speaker of the first HPT Forum in China. She also offered a two-day HPT seminar. With the tremendous support of ISPI, we are confident our promotion of HPT in China will be successful.

What types of learning/performance improvement opportunities does Sinotrac offer its employees? Its clients?

Sinotrac provides six types of opportunities to our employees and clients. The first is performance diagnosis, helping our employees and clients identify performance gaps and design improvement solutions. The second is training courses. We design courses to improve competencies based on gap analyses. The third is KTA, which is a key talent acceleration program. The fourth type of opportunity is course development. We design and customize courses based on the unique needs and characteristics of clients. The fifth is action learning and the last is performance consulting. Sinotrac performance consultants help our clients improve their performance by working from performance gap analysis to implementation and evaluation.

How has Sinotrac’s approach(es) to performance improvement changed over time?

Sinotrac was founded seven years ago. We have been working in the performance improvement and training service areas ever since. Our philosophy is to accumulate continuously toward the right direction.

I remember, when Sinotrac was still an infant seven years ago, the only offering we provided was training courses. Although course evaluations were good at the time, we found many performance problems persisted when participants went back to work. That’s when and why we began to look for better models. We were lucky to find HPT. We attempted to apply HPT to the performance problems of our clients and both were impressed by the positive results.

Over the years, we have recognized the fact that the value added to clients is limited if clients view performance consultants as the only ones responsible for their performance improvement needs. So, we strive to get all stakeholders involved and make ourselves a long term partner of our clients.

What does Sinotrac do to manage and develop its human capital?

In terms of human capital development, we may summarize our efforts into three words: professionalism, cohesiveness, and caring. Over the years, we have developed our own professional service management models, procedures, templates, and tools. We emphasize professionalism without sacrificing flexibility. For example, the service of our operation team has been praised highly by our clients as our employees strictly follow the procedures while offering individualized services. We pay close attention to cohesiveness among employees. We do that for both of our own employees and those of our clients. We summarize each consulting and/or training project by videotaping the outcomes, process, and memorable moments so each participant will remember how they contribute to the team. We recognize the value of a caring team. Sinotrac always sends gifts to our employees’ families for major traditional Chinese holidays. Another tradition of Sinotrac is that we invite employees’ parents to attend our annual celebration during the New Year season.

How does human performance technology add value to Sinotrac? How do you measure its worth and value?

HPT adds value to Sinotrac in two ways. First, HPT provides systematic tools and solutions to our own employees. Equipped with these tools, we are able to improve productivity and performance internally. Second, we are able to apply HPT to many performance consulting projects. The value of HPT has been reflected by our clients’ satisfaction with our work and their willingness to maintain long-term relationships with us.