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Technology-Assisted Training @ Convenience Store Chain– What We Can Learn

13 Feb

learning

An article at Convenience Store News reports on a technology-based training solution the convenience store chain Village Pantry has utilized for their 200-stores. The article describes the outcomes of their first training effort (a sales promotion that was more complex than usual) and plans to use the technology moving forward:

After training was complete, TSi (the firm that designed the technology used by Village Pantry) conducted telephone surveys with questions approved by Village Pantry to validate employees’ knowledge of the promotion, and their feelings toward the training method. The results were “far and away the best training” (Village Pantry CEO Mick) Parker said he’s ever seen. There was only one negative comment about the method of training, due to an equipment problem.

Even better, the Marathon promotion was deemed a success by all measures. Village Pantry saw a good increase in the percentage of customers who used the Marathon card, according to Parker.

Going forward, Village Pantry plans to create a training system for the entire lifecycle of an employee, from new hire training through career development and specialized training, such as store manager training, according to Parker. To date, Village Pantry completed modules prepping store employees, managers and district managers for ongoing store remodeling activities, as well as modules for new hire orientation and restricted sales. Other training modules on Village Pantry’s agenda are point-of-sale, customer service and shift duty training.

The article points out how this method worked for Village Pantry, and serves as a reminder of where technology can play a role in our training and development efforts. It also shows important elements we can all learn from, regardless of whether we embrace a technology-base program:

  • Solicit employee feedback— any learning effort will only be as good as employees believe it to be;
  • Measure Outcomes— a process to measure the effectiveness of the training. There should be an ROI to training and development– we simply need to take the time and effort to think that through; and
  • A committment from senior leadership— congratulations to the CEO for embracing this effort.

With these best practices in mind, many training and development initiatives have a far greater chance of success.

(The image used in this post is by http://www.lumaxart.com/.)

The Three Year Itch

1 Feb

We’ve all heard about the seven-year itch, right? I’ve noticed a trend with several employee engagement surveys I’ve recently reviewed, where the itch starts a bit earlier.

What I’ve often noticed is that employee engagement is solid for new employees and is good once employees have been with the organization for five or more years. But there is a dip in the two to four year tenure, where employees appear to be getting the “itch”, less engaged and committed to their employer.

With one company the “itch” started because many employees in that tenure group didn’t see career opportunities. In another employer the dip was related to less support received after the first year filled with lots of training and support. In another the problem was an internal posting process that made it difficult for employees to move across company “stove pipes”.

Consider:

  • Do our 2-4 year tenure employees shows signs of the “itch”?
  • If so, what we can do to re-engage them?
  • Are there internal obstacles we must address that will help us maintain high levels of engagement with this group?

“Just The Hired Help”

25 Jan

hierarchy

A friend related this story of his former place of work. Although he made good money and was asked to be involved in some cool things with the company owners, this was not a business that had a reputation as being employer-of-choice.

One night he was returning home from a nice dinner at a community event the company sponsored, and told his wife he thought this was pretty special they had been invited to the gala. His wife paused for a moment and said: “Yea, this was a nice night. But you know about this family. Don’t ever forget Rod that you’re just the hired help.”

Not long after that he found out the truth of this statement as he left the firm, frustrated that he wasn’t supported and provided opportunities to grow where it really counted– on the job. He’s now a recognized leader with a competitor, who was delighted to acquire his services.

If you’re a leader, is that what your employees might say about you? What is it about your approach to working with them that makes them feel this way? What could you do in the next week to turn that around? In this challenging times we can’t afford to have our employees feel they’re “just the hired help”.

How To Destroy Someone

18 Jan

My former boss and mentor Don Clifton frequently told audiences that one way you could destroy a person was to repeatedly ask them to do something for which they have no adequate response in terms of their abilities. That sounds pretty dramatic, but by not putting people into roles that fit their strengths we often do this in the workplace. This fate has sadly befallen me twice in my career, and although I wasn’t destroyed I certainly suffered. One miscast employee laments:

My talents are a mismatch with my job but I cannot change jobs right now. I would be more positive about our company if I could do something here more in line with my abilities.

Consider:

  • How many employees do you have that are in the wrong job, a “square peg in a round hole”, so to speak?
  • More importantly, how much is the productivity of your company suffering because good people are in jobs that are a poor fit for them?

When Engagement Leads To Gratitude

17 Jan

handshake

Is employee development an essential part of your employment brand? In this current economy we still are finding employers who are making that investment, one we know will help them weather this storm. Here’s a comment from an employer known for their high levels of engagement. It’s a testament to their efforts and, more importantly, a common remark for them. You can immediately sense the gratitude this employee is expressing:

 

(The company) is not afraid of taking chances on individuals, and that personally has allowed me to be promoted and move into my current job. When employees may not always have the usually expected experience for a position, the firm provides the means necessary to get that knowledge and experience.

 

Consider:

  • Is this how you feel about your job? If not, perhaps you need to seek out an employer who, in thick and thin, can make this happen.
  • If you’re a manager, is this how your employees feel?