Their Success is Our Success: Transitioning from Training to Enablement
Rebecca Blanksma | 5 min read
Learning & development activities and training delivery are critical for the success of new employees. A focus on the learner experience and employee enablement can turn training from a cookie-cutter onboarding process into a personalized, empowering experience.
I am Rebecca Blanksma, the Lead Implementation Manager for our team at Wisetail. Our Implementation Team is responsible for coaching and guiding our new clients through the Implementation process as they launch their own Wisetail platform. With a background in organizational development, learning and development, and project management, I am passionate about enabling the success of our employees and our clients with Wisetail.
Rapid Onboarding & The Great Resignation
At the beginning of 2022, as the Lead Implementation Manager, I was tasked with recruiting, hiring, and rapidly onboard two new Implementation Managers within the first quarter of the year. As an Instructional Design professional and previous coach to leaders developing their own onboarding programs for managers, it was critical that we did not prioritize our need for employees to immediately be functioning in a role over effective onboarding and an empowering new employee experience. All too often, it is tempting to give a new employee responsibilities early on without thoughtful training, which exacerbates the cycle of employee dissatisfaction, performance challenges, and turnover – something many companies are all facing during The Great Resignation.
How could we then balance our own business needs while developing an efficient onboarding process that helped employees feel empowered, informed, and enabled to be successful in their role?
My answer to this was a combination of leveraging our own Wisetail platform for employee training in combination with a focus on employee enablement and experience.
Training Versus Enablement
What is enablement, anyways?
First, let’s look at what training is. Training is traditionally viewed as an event: a classroom session, a virtual webinar, or an online course. Our new employee and Implementation Manager curriculum in our own Wisetail platform is crucial for new employees – giving them content week-by-week, defining learning objectives, and providing resources just in time.
However, learning itself is not a one-time event: it is an ongoing process and experience that we need to continuously foster to result in a business outcome. Training teaches an employee what they need to know, enablement helps them apply what they have learned on the job, quickly and successfully.
Employee enablement is a combination of processes, tools, management support, and L&D programs that ensure employees have the tools they need to perform well in their jobs. Ultimately, what resources and abilities an employee need to wow the client they are supporting?
Due to our compressed timelines, I focused intensely on what enablement resources these Implementation Managers would need to perform and be confident more quickly than our standard time-to-productivity included.
For these Implementation Managers, one of the longest lead times was moving from learning about the product to being able to answer client questions in real-time during a client call. To bridge this gap we needed to provide them real scenarios and questions earlier on in the process, and capture institutional knowledge of our more tenured employees.
To do this we built enablement resources including:
- Documented our eight-week Implementation Manager training curriculum in Apex (our LMS)
- Built a repository of flashcards for scenario-based training
- Documented frequent processes with guides and instructional videos
- Hosted Office Hours with various members of the Client Success Team
- Crafted facilitator guides for Implementation Managers to use in training sessions
- Gave new employees previous client questions and scenarios and provided real-time feedback
Our Role in Crafting the Employee Experience
As managers, we are the most critical factor in our employee’s onboarding and their onboarding experience. At Wisetail our slogan is “turning companies into communities”, and we work to do just that in our own company.
To achieve this, our employees need to feel from their manager, their team and their company:
- Invested in
Gathering feedback from an Implementation Manager on their own onboarding process in 2021, we were able to identify areas of improvement in the new Implementation Manager experience. As a result, this year we implemented a few processes to address each of these areas and used a whole team approach to onboarding all new employees rather than relying just on individual managers:
In the first month
- A weekly e-mail outlining learning objectives, resources for that week, and a look ahead to the next week
- A weekly recap with their manager to discuss learnings from the week, gather feedback on their process, and give an overview of their activities next week
- Implementation Managers gave “faux demos” on training subjects starting at Week 2 versus Week 6 to build confidence earlier on
- Virtual “Client Services Socials” hosted by an Implementation Manager to give new employees the chance to meet the broader team through informal social time
In the second month
- Office Hours hosted twice per week by various members of our wider Client Success team. This provided new employees a safe space to ask questions, during dedicated time and access tenured members of the team
- Coordinated “Meet and Greets” with other departmental team members so new employees would feel welcomed by the company at large outside of their immediate team
As a manager, I knew it would be critical to invest as much time as I could in their experience. To do this, I:
- Set up 2-3 meetings per week within the first month with our new Implementation Managers both collectively and individually
- Carved out two hours each morning for “Open Desk Time:” This was time available to any new employee should they have any questions or concerns to discuss without needing to set up a specific meeting
- Initiated formal 1:1s with each employee in their second month
- Focused on getting feedback from each new employee each week about what was going well, what in our training may be challenging, or what we could do differently