Case Study No 3: a course doesn’t solve every problem:

gear-67139_640Following Monday’s post, How to break out of the “course is the solution to every problem” mindset: make courses the exception rather than the rule, this is the third of three case studies that shows how courses are not the solution to every learning or performance problem. These case studies have been adapted from posts that first appeared on my blog in 2010.

A line manager was concerned that the company’s traditional induction (onboarding) workshop took place so irregularly that a new employee was often in post for a good few weeks if not months before s/he attended it.  The situation had now come to a head as one of his new promising employees had resigned before attending it, and had stated this was due to the obvious lack of interest of the company in integrating her into it.

The line manager turned to the L&D department for help. Their traditional response might well have been to create an online induction course which would be available to all employees as soon as they joined the company, but instead the L&D Director suggested that Tim, one of his team members, should meet with the line manager and some recent new hires to find out more about the issues.

During that meeting, in addition to the delay in getting a place on the induction (onboarding) workshop, it also transpired that the content of the workshop was very boring, being simply presentation after presentation on the history, vision and mission of the organisation. It was clear that they would not be interested in spending their time working through that same content online. What they had really wanted to know it in the early days of joining the company, was how to deal with practical issues like where you got your company laptop and mobile phone, and how you used your canteen card to purchase lunch and refreshments. These things the new hires had to find out for themselves, and although their colleagues were willing to help out and answer their questions, they were unable to spend too much time with them because of their own workload. The line manager also asked why induction couldn’t actually start BEFORE the new hires stepped through the door on the first day.

So Tim  suggested setting up a group on the company’s Yammer (enterprise social network) which new hires could join immediately their job position had been confirmed, where they could find information about the company as well as where they could ask questions and post their comments and views.

Those in the meeting thought this would be a good idea, so Tim asked them if they would be prepared to help with the project in terms of populating it with some early content, as well as helping to answer the questions of other new hires.  He explained that as more and more people joined the group over time, then their participation would be reduced.

Tim fed back the idea to the L&D and HR Directors, who said they would be very interested to see how this worked out, and Tim said he would be happy to act as a New Hire community manager in the first instance until someone else could take over the role.  So a Yammer New Hire group was set up and Tim got to work with others to make it a useful group space.

After a couple of months in operation, Tim ran an an informal survey to get some feedback. The new hires all felt that this was a very welcoming approach and that as they had established relationships with colleagues before they had arrived, it was very easy to fit in to the company. They also knew where to go to get everything they needed in the first few days.  It was therefore decided to continue the New Hire group indefinitely.  A few months later the HR Director was able to report an increase in retention rates, which made him and the senior managers very happy.

Key takeaways

  • Tim was able to find a solution that suited both managers and new hires
  • Tim supported the solution as it was put into practice.
  • Success was initially measured on the “feel good factor”, but was eventually measured in performance terms (retention rates)

More Case Studies

  1. Case Study 1
  2. Case Study 2