Over the last year, I have been writing a case study of an Onboarding Program I developed for a financial service organisation Retail Store Managers (Branch Managers) in 2014. The onboarding program used a blended learning approach that had different audiences; specific learning, communication and change management needs as well as delivered the program and associated resource via a SharePoint portal I created with various web parts and included an open social networking group on the Enterprise Social Networking platform, Yammer to build a community of Retail Store Managers (current and new) to inspire peer-to-peer learning and conversations.
The audience for the Store Manager Onboarding Program consisted of:
- New Store Managers
- Host Store Managers (where in-branch training and experiences were conducted at “host” stores)
- Store Managers People Leaders (Region Retail Managers where the new store manager was undertaking training)
- Onboarding Coach (one coach per state who looked after new staff who joined their regions)
You can read more about how I created the blended learning strategy and undertook the design and development of the program for all the audiences in my previous blog posts:
Part 1: Social Onboarding – A Case Study covers the background, the problem, the needs analysis, stakeholder engagement and recommendations that were part of a strategy paper making a case for a Social Onboarding program that was presented to my Retail business clients and stakeholders for approval.
Part 2: Social Onboarding – A Case Study covers the first half of the Development Phase of the materials for the different audiences stated above which were a mix of 70-20-10 learning activities undertaken in various retail stores which acted as “hosts” for the new store managers and who provided a ‘real life/real time’ experiential learning experience with customers, branch environment and team management and leadership all under guidance of experienced staff members such as People Leaders, Onboarding Coaches and experienced members of the branch network such as Customer and Business Advisors along with a peer community of national store managers who supported, shared, learned from each other in their own open group in Yammer.
This post will explain how I created the Store Manager Onboarding Portal which was built in SharePoint 2007. The site included:
- Store Manager Weekly Modules in PDF (70-20-10 activities to be completed for the week)
- Store Manager Weekly Reflection (choice of 1, 2 or all 3 questions to answer in the Discussion Board to wrap up their learning for the week)
- Host Store Manager Coaching Guide
- Onboarding Coach Guide
- Video podcasts related to the various weekly themes (People Leadership, Risk, Sales, Service Excellence) as supplementary material
- Curated material and links to the various weekly themes as supplementary reading material
The Store Manager Onboarding Portal (Home Page)
The home page invited and welcomed everyone to the Store Manager Onboarding Program. All graphics on the site were recycled and reused from previous programs to reduce the time and cost for external graphic development or need for external vendor solutions. I changed the wording and created a new graphic on PowerPoint (saved as a JPEG) or Canva and inserted the pictures into the SharePoint portal.
All ‘copy’ on the site was first storyboarded in PowerPoint, approved by the stakeholders and clients with 1 version control (again to minimise time in development).
Along the top navigation bar, visitors to the site work along it in order every week. The first module is Get to Know the Organisation, followed by People Leadership in Week 2, Sales in Week 3 and so on.
I created a specific sites for the Onboarding Coaches as well as a separate site for Post Onboarding activities and a site called “Learner Site” (in hindsight I should have not called it “Learner” sites) which was where the new store managers uploaded their final assessments.
An Example of a Weekly Module:
This is an example of the People Leadership Module which was in Week 2. As mentioned, all copy and graphics was edited from previous programs and approved to be reused in this program. This ensured that I met the tight time frames to complete this entire program and development of associated materials for all audiences within 3 months as my contract was ending…
Every weekly module had a similar layout as outlined in the diagram below and included three web parts in each of the modules.
The first web part was the actual Module which consisted of:
- Objectives for the Week (Performance outcomes)
- Examples were: “Observe at least 2 x 15 minutes one-on-one coaching sessions undertaken by your Host Store Manager to a store team member, provide a debrief to the Store Manager and then create a plan of how you will conduct your 15 minute one-one-one coaching sessions. Conduct two coaching sessions with a team member under supervision by your Host Store Manager this week.
- “Pick a gap in the Store Results on your Host Store and lead two team meetings under observation by your Host Store Manager. Generate ideas and actions and create an action plan with targets and measures.”
- Your Week at a Glance (an example of how their week will look that included all activities; briefings; debriefings and reflections)
- 10% Activities: All the formal courses, reading, mandatory and role based training courses to be completed
- 20% Activities: All the coaching activities to be conducted with their Host Store Manager; People Leader; Onboarding Coach or experienced member of their branch
- 70% Activities: All the workplace experiences for them to participate, contribute and undertake under supervision and guidance of an experienced team member
- What’s Worked and What Needs Tweaking: a section where they take their notes on what they feel they did well; what needs work; areas where they need further development, coaching or support
- Reflections of the Week: A section where they can jot down their notes in preparation for their responses in the discussion board.
The module was created in MS Word and PDFed. For those who worked on their mobile devices, they were advised to download the modules to their mobile devices and use PDF editing software apps to allow them to insert text and notes into their PDF module.
The second webpart was the “Discussion Forum”. Three questions were provided and they could choose to answer 1, 2 or all 3 questions. The discussion board was open to any participant (new store manager, people leaders, onboarding coach) to encourage people to read and have a discussion on their learning for the week as well as highlight points for the People Leader weekly debrief with their new store manager.
The last web part was “This Week Podcast”. Initially I created various podcasts with the Retail teams using a Flip Camera and MS Movie Maker related to the themes. I coached the Retail staff on how to use the flip cameras and editing software and to submit these to the Digital Learning team so that they can be transcoded and a URL provided so that in future, these teams can upload any of their own video podcasts to the SharePoint site.
These screen shots are the original screen shots hence why you don’t see the SharePoint site as ‘populated’ with video podcasts and discussions as I had left the organisation one week after its implementation!
The Coaches Site
In the Coaches tab, I used Canva to create additional graphics outlining who will support the new Store Managers and their roles and responsibilities. Onboarding Coaches received additional training (through Webex Virtual Classrooms) on their role through each of the weekly modules along with a Coaches Guide for Host Store Managers as well as a Coaches Guide for the state-based Onboarding Coaches. (PDF resource).
At the end of week 5 (but building up throughout the program), all Store Managers had to complete an assessment which was in two parts:
(a) Analyse and interpret store reports based on typical store scenarios and to create action plans to close those business performance gaps that related to Risk, People Leadership, Sales, and Service Excellence (in all cases, scenarios were a blend of all these factors!)
I obtained these scenarios from current Store Managers and from discussions on Yammer however I had to work backwards. That is, it was easier to have a Store Manager provide me examples of store reports that showed business and performance gaps and then create a fictional scenario around as to “why” these may have occurred as opposed to choosing the performance gap and then trawling through copious store national store reports to see which store matched the gaps and hence the scenario! (This assessment development took me over four weeks to collate and develop as there were multitude of reports that could be used and generated to get a picture of the store’s performance. This identified a potential new performance problem in interpretation and analysis of store reports and I escalated this to my manager to explore as a future Learning and Development opportunity for current Store Managers).
(b) Create an Operating Rhythm and a Store Plan with 30, 60, and 90 day targets to achieve (this is typical of any Store Manager requirement and is similar to a Business Plan).
The aim of the assessment was to ensure that the key performance gaps (ie interpretation and analysis of reports aligned with creating action plans as well as creating robust business plans with key targets and measures) were created to support the new Store Manager.
The assessments were uploaded into SharePoint under the “Learner Sites”.
(I had some robust conversations around the assessment with clients and stakeholders. Initially, they wanted a Question and Answer type assessment that sat on the Learning Management System so that new Store Managers may complete their knowledge test and score a “Pass” in Onboarding. In the analysis phase, I enquired their reasons for this and it came down to the need to have a record of completion of onboarding. Therefore, whether it was a knowledge test was irrelevant – the main factor was that there was a record of completion against the individual’s learning record in the LMS. Also, after speaking with current Store Managers who suggested that they would have preferred to have a Business Plan/Store Plan with 30, 60 and 90 day targets during their first three months in the role, I suggested this alternative assessment which laid the groundwork for new store managers to have an ‘action plan’ for their first 90 days as well as teach them the skills of interpreting and analysing store performance reports. Clients and stakeholders agreed to this although it meant that the “completion” process was going to be a manual process which relied on the People Leaders entering the completion of onboarding into the LMS).
The Learner Site (aka Assessment Site)
As mentioned, all assessments were uploaded by the new store manager into this section. Once uploaded, SharePoint sent an email to their specific People Leader that the assessment was completed. The People Leader would then review the assessment, schedule a debrief with their new store manager and then undertake a review of the two parts of the assessment through enquiry and feedback.
Once the people leader was satisfied with their assessment responses and debrief review, the People Leader would enter the final results into SAP Learning Management System that they had formally completed their Onboarding Program.
The next phase then moves into completing the key 30, 60, 90 day targets as outlined in their Store Plan and their formal role as a Store Manager commences.
The URLs of each new store manager uploading their assessment is not viewable by others except for the Store Manager and their People Leader only (upon request by the client to prevent plagiarism – although I did state my case against this as I believed that creating a peer learning approach may have been better suited however I respected the client’s wish to ensure that the feedback was conducted with their people leader and not by others).
Many would think that this approach to the Store Manager Program is fiddly as there are many audiences and elements. Also there is a reliance and “trust” on people to actively coach, mentor and support the development of new Store Managers in their store on top of their everyday routine tasks as opposed to Learning and Development undertaking the responsibility for training (!). Certainly there were some good discussions about the roles and responsibilities of all the key players in this program and how the business could implement and help support their people (and those who played active roles in the coaching).
Also, many of the activities are automated through a Learning Management System because there are some manual tasks such as the People Leader manually registering completion of onboarding into the LMS. I found the LMS to be a limiting factor in this program as I had to ‘redesign’ the process to suit the LMS and not the other way around simply because how the LMS was configured.
Another limitation in this project was time (my contract was ending in 3 months and I had to have the program completed); resources (the organisation had gone through a recent organisational structure and other team members had their own projects they were working on therefore I had to rely on my wider network on Yammer as well as my business clients to provide me with support as I needed it) and no budget (although I could have asked for a budget but this would have delayed the process).
The advantages to this project were great clients and stakeholders who “opened doors” for me into their business; passionate and enthusiastic Onboarding Consultants who were eager to learn new skills to their repertoire (such as video podcasting, SharePoint Administrators, Webex and Social Networking in Yammer) and a supportive manager who made sure that any obstacles or delays in getting information to me were dealt with so that I could focus on the program development.
Also the learning management system had its own limitations with its cumbersome nature and detailed protocols and procedures for sign off. It was not user friendly but all the people leaders knew how to use it to manually register the completion of the course so there was an expectation that they had an active part to play in the support, development and coaching of the Onboarding Program.
My own thoughts about the SharePoint site was that it may have been simplified (too text heavy – and my graphic design skills leave a lot to be desired) but with limited time to project manage all the elements from the analysis, design, development of all video, web, text resources, training of Host Store Managers and the Onboarding Coaches as well as the strategy development, surveys, project management and yes, even creating the key messages for the communications and change management, I had to streamline my interaction with each key stakeholder so that I could meet the tight time frames and reduce times spent waiting for information.
The Next Steps:
In my next post, I will cover on how I used the Enterprise Social Networking Platform, Yammer in the Social Onboarding Program to build a national community of Store Managers as well as using this as the communication channel “working out loud” on the program so that store managers were across the entire program and had opportunity to contribute to its development.
Use of an ESN proved to be a curious element to clients, stakeholders, wider L&D, Onboarding Consultants but thankfully, not to some Store Managers who were already using the tool in their own work and connections. Herein was the challenge of getting them to champion the use of Yammer in onboarding.
But that’s in the final part of this case study.
If you would like to know more about how I can help you develop your own social learning program, Let’s Chat!