A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Joe Gibbs (three Super Bowl titles, NASCAR Championship team owner, and two-time NHRA Pro Stock team owner) speak for an American Teleservices Association (ATA) conference where he talked about leadership. Coach Gibbs explained that three things were expected of leaders: communicate expectations, provide training, and hold people accountable. He took exception to the Peter Principle, saying that people don’t typically fail because they rise to a level that’s above them; it’s usually because leaders fail to provide adequate training.
Coincidentally, Incept undertook a branding initiative about a year ago with the objective of becoming a world-class organization. In setting that compass, Incept committed to a “listen before we lead” approach with both our clients and our employees. So, as part of this initiative, we asked our employees a series of questions aimed and defining our roadmap to become world-class in our service. Can you guess what they told us? Their feedback indicated a thirst for training, knowledge, and growth. No big surprise there, right?
In turning that feedback into something actionable, Incept’s Live The Brand oversight committee developed a service standard: “With education, constant improvement and growth are expected.” With every service standard, there should be a definition, so the committee went on to create the definition: “As we pursue our goal of becoming a world-class organization, we recognize that the continuous training and development of all employees is key.” And in order for us to truly live our brand, the committee created these actions:
- Employee – Every day I will seek opportunities to better myself and my career.
- Organization – We will provide tools and resources that help our employees accomplish their personal and professional goals.
Providing the tools and resources is a significant undertaking. Consequently, we formed a subcommittee entitled: Learning Never Stops. Current Learning Never Stops subcommittee members include Incept’s CEO Sam Falletta, Conversational Marketing Expert Zev Rosenburg, Program Results Supervisor Allison Legg, Shift Supervisor Amber Nelson, and VP of New Client Results Jim Beuoy.
Again, we deployed our “listen before we lead” approach and asked the employees to provide specific subject matter for the courses. The interest was beyond our expectations. Employees quickly realized that by Incept investing in them, they would become better employees, become more engaged with the brand, and provide better service to our clients.
The Learning Never Stops subcommittee outlined a plan for ongoing education, determining which trainings are mandatory, which are optional and at what intervals they should be held. Topics vary, ranging from leadership to communication to personal well-being. Plans include training curriculum, performance management (formal and informal) and an advancement path for success both personally and professionally. The outcome is Incept University. It’s run like many universities in that there are requirements for acceptance, credits for successfully passing course assessments, and majors – which are career paths through various disciplines within the organization.
The concept of a corporate learning and development center, regardless of the title, isn’t something new. Even the concept of a corporate university has been around for awhile. So far, Incept’s appears to be a rousing success as employees frequently ask about timing of courses, how they can take corrective action on attendance and performance to become eligible, and other expressions of interest. Still, there could be challenges along the way. We’re interested in hearing from others about keys to success and potential pitfalls of corporate development.
What’s your experience been in launching and sustaining a “Learning Never Stops” initiative?