It happened again.
Jim just received the third email in a month from the CEO criticizing the increased cost for the internal training program at his company. A cold sweat trickled down his forehead as he sank into his full grain leather chair, staring into oblivion and feeling a mixture of anxiety, confusion and worry.
I’ve got a quick question for you. Have you ever felt the pressure of downsizing or cost cutting?
Maybe you are happily executing the company strategy, planned and signed-off at the beginning of the year, and all of a sudden due to unforeseen circumstances such as shifts in technology, customer preferences or the economy, your company has to immediately cut costs.
Jim Farmer is the Director of Internal Training at a large retail corporation in Vancouver.
He is a people person, extroverted and always on the lookout for ideas or solutions that will provide his company a competitive edge.
Jim’s role involves the training and onboarding of sales reps who are mostly Millennials, the demographic cohort following Generation X, who were born anywhere between 1980 and the early 2000s.
These sales reps will be stationed at retail outlets across the city.Jim’s company deals in consumer electronics, which means that the training process is long and arduous, covering a wide variety of topics such as product knowledge, customer focussed engagement, customer service, and sales.
Adding further pressure, Jim’s company experiences a high turnover in retail staff. The company’s customer experience depends heavily on having well-informed staff on the floor, so training must be thorough and fast.
The situation that Jim has found himself in is indeed a complex one. Ever since he started working at this company, which was about 10 years back, it has been using textbooks, binders, and handouts to train employees.
Moreover, the company prefers to train sales reps at the corporate headquarters to increase training effectiveness, but with the rapid increase in the number of stores, they have dramatically increased the amount of in-store training sessions.
The rapid growth in the number of stores over the years has also resulted in increased printing and logistics costs to meet the demand for additional training materials.
The increased cost and time involved for training this growing workforce, juxtaposed with the growth and evolution of eLearning, has left Jim looking out his 20-foot window facing the Pacific Ocean while listening to the song “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and letting out a huge sigh.
According to research, we now create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of man through 2003- Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Millennials have grown up in in such an environment, expecting to find information in a matter of minutes using their smart phones.
Smart phones come in all shapes and sizes; so content creators must ensure that content is reflowable and mobile friendly, which is not always an easy task.
The training program at Jim’s company depends on shuttling trainees between the corporate classroom and the retail stores on a regular basis. Consequently, training materials have to be accessible throughout the day.
For example, a trainee should be able to refer to training notes from the previous day on her laptop at home, then jump to where she left off on her mobile while travelling on the bus, and then quickly access her training material once she arrives at the corporate classroom.
At the same time, Jim doesn’t want to make the process of creating training material too cumbersome for the corporate training team.
All these factors have increased the stress and pressure on Jim to deliver results. With the growth of ecommerce companies and the increased cost of real estate, the price competition has increased drastically and has made it
difficult for a brick-and-mortar company like Jim’s to stay profitable.
Jim is indeed facing some serious challenges, and these are just a few of them.
Watch out for the next article in this series to find out what other problems Jim has found himself in, and most importantly the actions he could take to find an ideal solution to these challenges.
- Do some or most of these problems resonate with you?
- How are you dealing with them?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article that will come to you tomorrow.