On 4 September I wrote the first part of a project I was the lead developer (okay, the only developer) for a Social Onboarding Program for Retail Store Managers for my previous organisation. The first part of the blog series covered 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 the Retail business for approval.
This blog post covers the first half of the Development Phase of the materials.
Although I wasn’t the one who personally presented the strategy paper to the Retail Business, I started the development phase without waiting for their approval. Time was of the essence. With tight timeframes for deliverables and my employment contract ending in two months, I could not delay further. Added to the timeframes was that my colleague who was assigned to work with me on this project had found another role within the company so resources were strapped. This was what I proposed in my strategy paper….(and it all had to be developed by me in 8 weeks!)
It was clear that I would have to work extra hours to complete all the development within 8 weeks. This included:
- Design and development of 7 Participant Workbooks that included 70-20-10 activities
- Introduction & Welcome to the Organisation
- People Leadership
- Service Excellence
- Post Onboarding & Assessment Case Studies
- Your First 90 Days Pack
- Design and development of the Onboarding Portal in Sharepoint each with 6 separate tabs/pages of content aligned to the above modules (including a tab for Host Store Managers; Onboarding Consultants and Regional Executives as each of them had different roles and responsibilities in the coaching and support of new store managers. This portal had to be for them as well).
- Creation of the Discussion Board Questions in each of the modules [created as a web part in Sharepoint]
- Creation of 5 Welcome video podcasts of subject matter experts talking about the importance of each of the above topics that served as introductory viewing before undertaking the various 70-20-10 activities in the store.
- Creation of a Coaching Guide for the Host Store Managers (for those stores selected to host new store managers)
- Creation of a NAB Store Manager Yammer Group
- Development of a “Your First 90 Days” Pack for the newly inducted manager
- Creation of Performance Support Aides for the Onboarding Consultants (as they were going to be Site Managers of the Sharepoint Portal)
- How to Create Learner Pages & Configure Learner Site Permissions for New Store Managers
- How to Create Surveys in Sharepoint
- How to Use Yammer and Yammer Groups
- How to Capture Program Completions and Record in Learning Management System Process (this was not automated and had to be a manual process because the Learner Management System could not record blended programs and activities as discrete separate activities)
- Roll out of webinar series for Host Store Managers [as part of the communications and change management to explain their role in the process]
- Roll out of webinar series for the Onboarding Consultants [as part of the communications and change management to explain their role in the process]
- Roll out of webinar series for Regional Executives (managers of Store Managers) [as part of the communications and change management to explain their role in the process]
Capturing the 70-20-10 Activities
Luckily I had written much of the content (the 70-20-10 activities) two years prior on a similar program (The 12 Week Store Manager Proficiency Pathway) that was never rolled out by the same business so I reused the same content however, as I was not a subject matter expert, I understood that the content could have been out of date.
A colleague kindly merged all the activities into one massive Excel spreadsheet and then we divided the activities we thought fitted under People Leadership, Sales, Risk and Service Excellence tabs. This resulted in a document that had captured all the formal and informal learning activities that could be completed through formal education programs and those that could be completed under observation, coaching and practice on the job within the stores.
Working with the Onboarding Consultants
Once this collation was completed, it was time to work with the Onboarding Consultants who played a critical role in ‘sanity checking’ the activities as well as devising specific performance outcomes for each module.
In a workshop teleconference meeting, we created and agreed upon performance objectives for each of the modules. They were going to be the foundation of each of the modules with the intention that each 70-20-10 activity was to be aligned against the expected performance outcome of each module. If it did not align, the activities were not relevant therefore removed.
Examples of performance objectives in the Sales module were:
- “In your workplace, observe at least two 15 minutes one-on-one coaching sessions undertaken by your Host Store Manager to a Store Team Member and provide a debrief to your Store Manager. From these observations, create a plan of how you will conduct your 15 minutes one-one-one coaching session and receive feedback from your Host Store Manager
- “Under guidance of your Host Store Manager, conduct two 15 minute one-on-one coaching sessions with two Store Team Members using the plan you created…
As the Onboarding Consultants had a great network of experienced retail store managers in their own state and had prior experience in retail, each of them chose one topic each and their responsibility was to work through the 70-20-10 activities and the performance objectives with the SMEs in their state to ensure that the activities and objectives were still relevant and current. As we didn’t have time for them to do them all, they chose a ‘Primary’ topic and then a ‘Secondary’ topic.
For example, one consultant may have chosen their primary topic of “Sales”, the secondary as “People Leadership” etc. With two consultants per topic, we reduced the time it took to check through each of the 70-20-10 activities and performance objectives. It was a good way to ensure that no activities were forgotten.
The ultimate result was that the performance objectives and 70-20-10 activities were approved by SMEs and stakeholders which was going to be the “guts” of the content that would make up each of the module packs which I had to design. The next step was easy.
Development of the New Store Manager Packs
As I had all the content, the creation of the Packs was easier. I created a Word Template and locked myself in a quiet room for a few days to create the People Leadership, Sales, Service excellence and Risk modules. Each had consistent “look and feel” with some graphics that were reused and thanks to SnagIt and Canva, created some visual appeal. The sections of the pack were:
- Title Page and Module heading
- Table of Contents
- Performance Objectives
- Your Week At a Glance
- 10% Activities: Courses to Complete
- 20% Coaching: Coaching Activities to be Completed at Host Store
- 70% Experiential: Hands On In-Store Activities [all included Reflection & Blogging where new store managers encouraged to write their reflections in Yammer or Sharepoint Discussion Forum]
- What’s Worked and What Needs Tweaking [an activity that outlines what they did well this week and how they may use it in their business; as well as what areas they need to develop and how they will action these]
- Share Your Experiences [new managers would answer one of three – or all 3 reflection questions in the Sharepoint Discussion Forum or in Yammer Group] for example the People Leadership reflection questions were…
- What do you think will be your challenges in managing your people for success at our organisation and why?
- What I learned during the People Leadership week of Onboarding
- How were you inspired this week in your store by observing and participating in effective people leadership practices?
Usually, I involve my clients in the design of the pack. However, due to lack of time (and as I hadn’t received approval yet to start the development work), I erred on the side of caution. My reasoning was that it would be easier to show that I had progressed with work rather than wait for feedback on the design of the pack. If they saw a “finished product”, it would be easier to change the template down the track than not to have done any work on it at all.
Once I completed the main packs, I then wrote the “Your First 90 Days” pack for new store managers that captured all the main points of the other pack and provided the “copy” that was going to go into the Sharepoint site development.
All documents were created in Word as Editable PDFs so that new managers could download them onto their iPads and take their own notes if required – or print them off at their own location.
Development of the Case Studies and Assessment
In hindsight, I should have started this at the onset given the time it took to reach agreement on how the new store managers would be assessed. As I had influenced the stakeholders to forego their original idea of ‘testing knowledge’ through a multiple choice questionnaire and instead, consider new store managers produce something more tangible and relevant to their needs such as a business plan, I had to work with SMEs who could help me here. In effect, the assessment was in two parts:
- Produce an Operating Rhythm and Business Plan for their Store with Key 30, 60, 90 day targets (assessed by their manager in consultation)
- Given a range of typical store scenarios and reports, interpret and analyse the reports and create an action plan (that would cover People Leadership, Sales, Risk and Service Excellence activities they would undertake to close performance gaps identified in the reports).
Working with the business on these two aspects highlighted new performance gaps in the business namely that there was no consistent reporting across the states and that some managers did not have business plans (therefore, how could they coach someone to do these?).
I escalated these issues to my manager to discuss with the Retail business. Upon investigation, we saw that this was not going to be an issue for the selected Host Stores. However, I had to work closely with the National Reporting team who were standardising the reports across Retail to ensure that the right reports were used for assessment purposes and it was a juggle to set expectations because my deliverable was to create the assessment for the Onboarding Program although it was clear that this Reporting team also required support to create a separate development program for the national rollout of “Analysing and Interpreting Reports” across their business.
Also the assessment approach highlighted gaps with our learning management system. It was easier to capture learner records of completion of ‘stand alone’ questions however, what I was proposing didn’t ‘fit’ in the parameters of our LMS as it required a manager to formally check and verify that the assessment was complete. There were questions whether managers would indeed ‘close off’ this last step in the process as one of the critical measures to ensure all records were captured.
Creation of Video Podcasts
While I was waiting for approvals and responses to questions as well as the approval of the strategy paper, I used Yammer to ask questions to the current Store Managers and find people who could support me to create video podcasts as introductions to each of the modules. I wanted to use real stories from people in the field on people leadership, risk, sales and service excellence. I also encouraged Onboarding Consultants to seek out these stories and with internal mail, sent them a flip camera each to capture stories on video.
For one story, I went out to a local store in the suburbs with my video camera and tripod and took the video footage myself and edited it in Windows Movie Maker. While out at the local branch, I ended up meeting people in person as I had already connected with them on Yammer. These trips out to the stores were highlights for me because people were more than happy to participate and contribute to providing content and their stories for the onboarding program. It also assisted in the promotion, marketing and communication of the program so there was a real buzz of excitement that it was “coming soon!”
(Yammer proved to break down the barriers and put me into direct contact people – I cannot emphasise the importance of this tool which opened doors for me directly into the business and to speak with the relevant people in a timely manner).
I also asked the business to create a “Welcome” podcast by the General Manager of Retail to personally welcome new Store Managers to the program.
All videos were transcoded and uploaded into our own internal organisational video channel (and then I created links to these in the Sharepoint Portal.
Working Out Loud
Throughout this whole process, I was working out loud in Yammer. I posted my work and links to the Store Manager Group and the Regional Executive groups through this enterprise social networking platform.
Although these groups were generally inactive with only some people contributing, I saw that they were one way for me to promote what I was doing as well as seek out support when I needed it. I also saw the need for Yammer training to occur with these target groups to revive these groups and escalated this to my manager as potential new work with the business. As my business client was an active Yammer user and a senior manager in Retail, he wholeheartedly supported the use and promotion of Yammer to this target group and together we developed a roll out plan of webinars to show people how to use this and Sharepoint. This will be covered in the next blog post.
At the same time, word was now getting out that I was developing this program using both Sharepoint and Yammer and I had other learning and development colleagues who were responsible for the development of other induction and onboarding programs across other business units approach me for ideas. In all these cases, it was evident that one performance gap in L&D was that there was a lack of understanding of the use of social learning tools and platforms as evidenced by me being asked to create their Yammer groups for them without realising that they could do this themselves.
Also, word was getting out to other parts of the business who needed to have their content included into the program. For example, Yammer conversation threads included comments like, “Helen, we’ve heard that you’re developing the Store Manager Onboarding Program, please include XYZ training and here’s the link” or “does this program contain references to new policy training ABC?” or “Our forms have changed. Is this reflected in their training?” All requests were captured and together with my stakeholders, we aligned these requests to the performance outcomes – anything that was not considered relevant to induction and onboarding could be completed at some later time. My business client managed these expectations or else it would have been difficult. Everyone seemed to have an opinion of what should be in the program! This was an onboarding program not overboarding program!
In the next blog post, I will cover the Development of the Onboarding Portal which was in Sharepoint and the ‘one stop’ shop for all new Store Managers, their Onboarding Consultants, their Managers and their Host Store Managers.