New years are filled with opportunity, just like new hires...


Every new year brings with it the opportunity to briefly look back and take stock of the past one. What better place to start this review than by reviewing the effectiveness of your new employee onboarding program? After all, a solid onboarding program is key to one of the most import new beginnings not just for your new team member but for your organization as well. 

At many organizations, employee on boarding involves indoctrinating the new hire into the corporate culture. New employees typically learn about the company's history, mission, vision, its founders, organizational structure, and generally how the organization operates. This has become a pretty standard modus operandi, with trainers routinely scheduling these sessions to bring new hires into the company fold. At many organizations, this onboarding is a one-way street, with the organization information-dumping as much information about the company as possible in as little a time as allowed into the new hire. Not surprising is the fact that many organizations who employ these run-of-the-mill onboarding programs measure their success by how much knowledge the new hire acquired about the organization. Barely a level two evaluation by Kirkpatrick's standards, and pretty low expectations.

Ask many managers and corporate leaders what they value most about hiring "outsiders" and many will report valuing the "new perspective" an outsider to the organization brings to the table. Trouble is, most new hires from the "outside" are hired and almost immediately indoctrinated in the company's ways. Not so at one organization who recognized this dichotomy. Wipro, which provides telephone and online chat support for a global customer base, tried something different and was able to achieve a more than 32% reduction in turnover during an employees' tenure with a new onboarding strategy. Additionally, customers' reported receiving significantly better service from employees that went through this new onboarding program. 

Wipro placed a heavy focus on individuals being able to perform in line with their individual strengths. This new "Personal-Identity Socialization" onboarding program allowed new hires to play to their strengths, and even bolstered the self-esteem of employees who participated in the new approach. You can read more about Wipro's innovative approach to new hire onboarding, and see if you may want to incorporate parts of their strategy by visiting this link

These are the out-of-the-box experiments in HR that lead to significant performance and productivity gains for organizations, and where HR truly has an opportunity to earn a seat at the proverbial table. When was the last time you looked at your new hire onboarding program? Are you simply measuring how much information sticks in their heads, or, are you demanding more of your investment dollars when it comes to onboarding your people? Let us know, we want to hear from you!

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Training as a competitive advantage


After reading this post by Pam Woldow, I believe the legal profession might just be on the cusp of ushering in a new trend.  How long until your clients demand to know how you are cultivating young employees who can perform capably and cost-effectively and not using their projects as “basic training”?  During these difficult times, I hear anecdotally of many firms reducing their training budgets.  Though I don’t have any research on this (actually would welcome any on L&D/ Training budgets during this economic malaise), nothing drives demand like customers. It appears in this instance Kia Motors has taken it upon itself to vet the associates of its outside counsel.  Kia is doing this as a measure of how efficiently its legal vendors are providing legal services to the company.  This has enormous implications for companies that don’t invest in the on-going development of their people.  Using online skill/ competency assessment tools like Questionmark, your client may be looking at your staff before hiring you in the very near future in an effort to assess the value your employees add to a project and gives them another comparison point between your company and your competition.   Training records and competency audits will be used as differentiators when evaluating your proposals and your service/ product.

If you’re thinking- not in my industry, we’re too many points in the supply chain away from the end user.  You’re missing the point.

In today’s hyper-competitive and increasingly transparent global marketplace, firms who skimp on employee training will be found out and punished by the market.  And don’t be surprised if social media plays a part in ostracizing these firms and labeling them as second-rate players in their industry.  No longer will companies be able to get away with not developing their people and not face the consequences of their actions.  More importantly however, is the response by stronger companies to this move by Kia Motors.  HR leaders at the top of their game and playing a strategic role with a seat at the proverbial table will use these results by Kia Motors as another reason to double-down on their company’s investment in training.  And then, they will publicize that their people are the most skilled and knowledgeable in their niche and use it as a competitive advantage to gain even more clients in their market.

The choice is yours and the consequences stark for companies who do not choose wisely.  How is training viewed in your organization― is it an expense, an investment, or a competitive advantage?

Alex Santos
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Social networks, not always a Field of Dreams

Many organizations are implementing policies to manage employee interaction with social media in the work place.  However, leading organizations are implementing their own social platforms.  These platforms feature the same communication tools that the big social websites offer, connecting person to person.   But these organizations are using them to increase the type and quality of communications among employees via internal Blogs, Wikis and through sharing documents and information.   But the real secret to their success lies in their execution. The predecessor to the enterprise social network was the intranet.  The difference between today’s technology and yesterday’s intranet was in the complexity for the user.  The corporate intranet was far more complex to use and required a much steeper learning curve.  Because of this complexity many had difficulty properly executing and maintaining its use.  Employees were often forced to use it.  Many, due to its shortcomings came to rely on email to serve as there document share, their data collection and communication tool.

So how does an organization ensure proper execution of their new social platform?  First you have to realize that today’s social platform is not like yesterdays complicated intranet.  Your employees already engage on social networks.  They are all, whether there a public or an enterprise social network, user friendly.  There is no better example of their ease of use than the growth in the number of grandparents who are connecting online with their kids and grandkids.

Believing that execution is easy would be shortsighted.  It’s not without it’s own challenges.  As an organization implements theirs they need to make certain that it’s done correctly.  It does take a change in the thinking of the employee and many are reluctant to change their emailing ways.  That old adage of “If you build it they will come” does not hold true without good relevant content.  Content is what drives social media.   Don't make the mistake of launching a bare social network.  A core group of supportive users will develop the initial content enabling a larger roll out.  Driving and developing this early content is where proper execution lies and it can easily fail.  A controlled roll-out within an organization so that the platform develops naturally, with guidance, is the best plan for success.

Through proper execution the platform will take off within your organization.   It will deliver an increase in the quality of communications and idea sharing that cannot be measured in dollars.  As Jef Vandecruys, Global Project Leader Digital Connection said:

“It is important to measure the actual implementation of social media in projects.  It’s not just the theory that matters; the true value is in the execution.  The very first KPI of 'social' is not about monetary value, it’s measuring the evolutions in the internal knowledge.”

Thinking about buying a franchise? Ask if they're social.

Bart Puett, President and CEO of Maid Brigade, Inc wrote a great blog post entitled “Evaluating a Franchise Training Program: Five Essentials to Ensure Your Potential Franchisor Will Provide Adequate Support“ Reading his post inspired me to ask the question “If they're Social?” If you are evaluating a franchise ask how they incorporate social media into your training and ongoing success.

Intensive Pre-Opening Training Your pre-opening training will usually involve physically attending a training class. But ask what pre-training is offered. Most people learn best when material is presented in several smaller modules. But this is not practical when you travel to an intensive training. Training becomes more effective when it combines pre-training learning activities, classroom training and follow-up to address retention and transfer. This pre- and follow-up learning is easily delivered online via e-Learning and social interactions.

Mentoring Mentoring is a great form of social learning. When a new franchisee has questions, can they contact a “mentor” franchisee to get answers? My mentor benefits from this relationship by becoming better at their own job. It is the oldest form of training. It’s how parents train their kids. The challenge in this is that everyone does not make a good mentor and there not always engaged in teaching. Sometimes there just too busy running their own business. The solution is to have group mentoring (social mentoring) where you post questions to the group and those with the answers can share. Then as people add to the knowledgebase, it grows and becomes more valuable to the community of franchisees as a whole.

On-Site Team Trainers On-site team training is important. It gets the “pro” to your site and they have the ability to see the things that you as a new franchisee don’t. But the questions to ask are:

• How often will they visit? • How much time will they spend during each visit? • What are their goals for the visit? • How do these goals align with your needs? • What happens when they don’t? Can you add to the goals of the site-visit?

Your ability to consult with them at any time is important. What technology do they employ to engage with franchisees virtually? How simple and how quickly can you leverage this technology to solve your daily issues?

Franchise Consultants Consultants can help you run the franchise and are an important tool. How will you communicate with them? E-mail? Telephone? Which consultants stand out from the rest in your specific industry? Are there ones near you that have a proven track record of success? If so, are they rated somewhere? Where can you look them up? A strong franchisor either has all of this information already gathered, or is utilizing an enterprise social network to gather this data right from their franchisees who are in the front lines. An enterprise social network can be a huge benefit to a franchise system, but also to consultants as well. A consultant has the opportunity to share his or her expertise, and to become known and recognized as an expert in your industry through their engagement with a franchise system.

Ongoing Support and Training The best ongoing training and support happens When you need it, Where you need it and on What device you need it. Email, databases, newsgroups are all passé. The new way to support the franchisee is through a social network designed just for the franchise that offers the security to talk about operational issues privately and securely. An Enterprise Social Network gives your franchise the way to connect franchisees and deliver learning experiences far beyond what a ‘training event’ can. It also becomes a resource where you not only can research answers to your questions but also post new ones and join in on the conversation with other franchisees. Two heads are better than one, three are better than two and when everyone collaborates we all benefit.

One way to better engage your employees in today’s economic climate

In this depressed economy many training departments find themselves forced to deliver results with fewer and fewer resources.  There’s a risk of entering into a downward spiral that should be avoided by learning and organizational development leaders.  At the same time that training and development budgets are shrinking, employee disengagement is growing, dissatisfaction is brewing, and a growing number of employee surveys are reporting that employees are planning to leave their current jobs; this turnover will lead to even fewer resources to do the job necessary for the organization to succeed.  Many organizations are at risk of being left with unengaged employees who reluctantly stay for lack of a more vigorous job market.

“84% of staff are more committed to employers who invest in their training and development.”

-Hays Workplace Series survey

How can your organization avoid this downward spiral and engage its employees in today’s economic climate?

Training, Development and Engagement.

People want to learn and they want to succeed.  They also, as adult learners, want to control their learning experiences and they want them to be relevant to their career goals and aspirations.  They want their learning to lead them to new successes.

Empower your people so that they stay and remain engaged.  Provide them with informal development opportunities they need whenever they need them to perform, wherever they may be, and on whatever device they want to consume them.  That’s the new WWW!  Put the employee in the driver’s seat and get out of their way.

Today’s social technologies provide the means to accomplish this. Integrating an enterprise social network into your organization and combining it with an LMS gives you the power to deliver training, provide development and coaching resources, and engage with and enable your people to engage with each other.

Karen O’Leonard in her blog “Corporate Spending on Social Learning” did some analysis on the trends in spending on enterprise social networks.  She found that “Although spending is fairly low today, we expect these figures to grow considerably in the coming years as companies focus on building their internal learning capabilities.” It’s not a question of if your organization will integrate this new WWW technology; it’s a question of how you can do so before your competition.