I attended the webinar, "How to Get Employees Up to Speed in Record Time," presented by Arupa Tesolin and Steve Rosenbaum. No only is this topic pertinent to my professional development, but as ISC is experiencing growth and on-boarding new employees, it was a timely opportunity to gain insight into an on-going challenge faced by all organizations.
The central philosophy behind the short-duration, high-results onboarding was a focus on PROFICIENCY. I'll get to that in a minute.
First, though, overall improvement is actualized by targeting key positions. These will be the ones that: generate revenue or client results; build or service products; or solve customer problems. Pretty straight-forward...
In order to get the biggest bang for your buck (or hour) they advise:
1. Define and Measure Proficiency
2. Map the Current Learning Process
3. Accelerate the Path.
I found there to be interesting similarities of philosophy to efficiency studies of the early 20th century. Arupa talked about defining proficiency as measurable results and then describing observations of proficient employees, i.e. what you see when you watch a proficient employee. She is clear that results are to be differentiated from competencies. I cannot help but be reminded of Taylor's Scientific Management. He identified the best employees, defined measurable results and then watched how those employees produced those measurable results. You may know these studies by their nickname, the "time and motion studies." The downside of Taylor's Scientific Management was that it significantly increased the monotony of work.
So here's the foundation for the webinar:
The presenters were very clearly advocates for the use of PROFICIENCIES (Results, Action) over COMPETENCIES (Skills, Knowledge, Attributes) for bringing employees up to speed. They argue that competencies are what someone is capable of, whereas proficiencies are concerned with what they are actually doing.
Interesting that KS has core competencies, yet measures us on proficiencies (measurable results).
They argue that many trainings focus on competencies while neglecting the ACTUAL WORK. Therefore, employees will have completed "training," yet be far from PROFICIENT at their job, that is, having reached a state that their employer can just turn their back and walk away knowing that the employee is completing his or her work at the highest level. So somehow employees must get from "trained" to actually proficient on their own.
This is a nice graphic illustrating the process:
One presented example of how employees are "brought up to speed" involved two scenarios. In the first, employees attend four weeks of on-boarding class, and then take their first client call at 6 weeks. In the second, employees start taking client calls on day two. The latter situation imparts value and appreciation in and for the class and learning material and was shown to be successful in decreasing the time to proficiency.
I find this to be extremely curious because I am almost certain that IF ASKED employees would say they prefer to have training prior to being asked to make client calls. So the employees perceived reality (making phone calls without sufficient training) deters them from taking a course of action that would actually benefit them and be much more supportive to their learning (in fact, the calls were of a specific type and completed with guidance and supervision). In other words, we often do not want to immerse ourselves in unfamiliar territory, preferring to nurse ourselves along, when what we need is to be pushed into supported unfamiliarity in order to expedite the learning process.
The presenters make a good point for proficiency training, especially when you consider that the way most of us learn how to do anything is by actually doing it and that theory and logic behind actions is made much more salient when we are immediately given the opportunity to see it at work. While I fear that too much of this could result in Taylorism (to define: "Production efficiency methodology that breaks every action, job, or task into small and simple segments which can be easily analyzed and taught."), I think there is merit in providing employees the opportunity to practice the skills they need to perfect.
The webinar can be viewed here: http://trainingmagnetworkposts.posterous.com/how-to-get-employees-up-to-speed-in-record-ti