It seems to me that we spend an inordinate amount of time on the administrative functions in our business such as registration, tracking, and grading. We go out and find big technical solutions to problems that actually have little, if any, impact on our actual goal...developing people (knowledge, skills, and capabilities). Sometimes, the simple is the better more elegant solution.
About 5 weeks ago, I interviewed, Maggie Bayless and Stas Kasmierski, the founders of ZingTrain, about their business as well as how their parent company, Zingermans, does training. In the first post, Fun as a Corporate Competency, I described how they strive to create work and learning environments that didn't just incorporate fun things, but actually were fun at their core. Though it's been a few weeks, this is my follow-up post I promised on their simple and elegant approach to employee development and tracking.
From the very first day, they put the employee's development plan in the hands of the employee by giving them their "Training Passport". Like it's metaphorical parent, the passport is a historical snapshot of where each person has been, but unlike it's parent it also serves as a sort of travel guide on the path for their position. Every position in the company has a Training Passport. Often positions have multiple levels of passports for employees new to the position and as they progress to higher positions or responsibilities. The passport (pictured below) contains:
- The skill or objective to achieve
- The methodology for gaining that skill (classroom, on the job, handouts, meetings, etc)
- How the skill or objective will be measured (test, observation, manager signature, etc)
- Date and manager's signature confirming successful completion
Employees are self-motivated to complete their passports which represents the opportunity for benefits (for new employees), raises, and promotion opportunities. New employees have 60 days to complete their orientation passport which includes arranging each of the learning opportunities. If, for example, they are getting close to the end of their orientation and the cheese section of the deli hasn't broken down a wheel of cheese recently (which is a hands on learning experience measured by observation for deli employees), it is their responsibility to work the manager to arrange the experience.
The expectations are clear, ordered, measurable, directly related to success in the job, and the employee and manager always knows how they are progressing. For more details and some employee quotes on the effectiveness of the project, check out this article from Gourmet Retailer Magazine.
Just think how much money Zingermans could have spent on implementing an LMS or LCMS, instead they found a simple, elegant solution that puts learning, motivation, and responsibility into the hands of the person it's supposed to impact the most...the learner.
Next up (hopefully in less than 5 weeks this time)...who does all of this training?