I needed to do two things very quickly:
- This team was full of wonderful people and we needed to fully take advantage of their skills and knowledge across all areas within our parent company. This meant that we needed to organize the existing 42 classes and fully flesh them out so that these 11 trainers could advertise their offer and become fully leveraged.
- We needed to identify methods by which we could quickly put answers in the hands of our employees without making them wait for a training class or for a trainer to become available and sit with them.
The second objective has taken more work to realize and we must also get IT's approval, which is always interesting. Because people learn different ways we must provided a blended approach to increasing knowledge and improving skills (training ONLY improves gaps in knowledge and skill - see my blog on Gilbert's Model). Not every knowledge gap is also best filled by attending an instructor-led course. Some information should be at the employees' fingertips at all times. Some employees know what to do, but not how to effectively do it. They simply need to see it done right a few times until they master the skill themselves. Employees also need access to experts, and no trainer can be an expert on everything. Finally, we need to expand the offering beyond the line employees and help the leaders effectively do their job. Many people are sent to training to be 'fixed', but training does not fix 'broken' people. Leaders must learn how to identify the root cause of performance problems, and leaders must take ownership of developing their employees. The training team is a support team and our customers are the team leaders and executives. We should not do their job for them.
I am presently working with the trainers to develop skills in the following areas (which will help us realize the second goal):
- Subject Matter Expert Created Content
- Enterprise Wiki - a searchable database of information that is updated in real time by the employees (and confirmed for accuracy weekly by assigned experts who have the final say)
- Behavior Model Video - the video shows an expert executing the skill well (e.g. pre-positioning to prevent a common sales objection) and the attached job aid outlines the steps that were viewed
- Screencasts - Flash-based software tutorials that demonstrate 'how to' use key functionality in 30 to 60 second clips
- Facilitated Case Study - the 'students' review a deal prior to the session and identify issues; they share, discuss, and debate the issues during the session; the facilitator types up the documented agreements and sends them to the students and the students' bosses (collectively the group knows more than the trainer/facilitator)
- Trainer Created Content
- Self-Paced Training - whether a workbook or a web-based module, the trainer bases the content of the self-directed materials on job analyses (only facts and decisions are taught this way)
- Job Aid - a quick how-to reference guide (not an FAQ) for common skills that employees should post on the walls of their cubicles
- Instructor-Led Class - some topics require the opportunity to interact with others, practice the new skill in a safe environment, and to get feedback on that performance
- Special Learning Activities
- Assessment - valid and reliable test of soft skills, aptitude, and/or capacity that might be a self-assessment, boss-assessment, or 360 degree-assessment followed by an interpretive feedback session
- Individual Development Plan or Performance Improvement Plan - specific improvements are defined and documented along with the steps that the employee agrees to take to execute the plan (and improve)
- Coach - based upon a specific interpersonal skill gap a weaker employee (protégé) is partnered up with a stronger employee (mentor) and their interactions are guided by a plan such as the IDP above
- Developmental Assignment - most learning comes from doing and evaluating the results of our decisions and actions (both successes and mistakes) so employees are put into roles on projects, etc. where they are forced to excel in the area that needs to be developed