By Darren Short, Director, Global Learning & Development, Avanade
Avanade is a global business technology services provider, helping customers realize the best results from the Microsoft platform, and employs 13,000 professionals in more than 20 countries worldwide. Its onboarding program covers Induction, New hire orientation, Skill-family orientation, Project orientation, Information and guidance, Regional and area orientation, and Engagement (hence, its name of INSPIRE). It was implemented in 2010 to address new hire pain points, including:
Between September 2009 and September 2010, Project Manager Shawn Martinez, who manages onboarding in Avanade’s Global Learning and Development team, led a major review of onboarding that rebuilt the whole new hire experience. By working closely with senior leadership across the company, Shawn ensured that onboarding was tied directly to the company strategy and business needs. The resulting INSPIRE program includes multiple components:
In the first 12 months of implementation, the company experienced a significant improvement in new hire onboarding as evidenced by:
As a next step, Avanade is looking to further enhance the program, including expanding in-person contact with new employees throughout their first year with the company.
By Jim Darby, Instructional Designer, ESL Federal Credit Union
ESL Federal Credit Union’s iLearn professional development portal began to take shape during the planning and design of the company’s 2009 Learning and Development strategy, when senior management identified eight specific core competencies as vital to the delivery of a superior member experience and the long-term success of our organization. Our leadership team envisioned that employees and their managers would focus professional development in these eight specific areas: adaptability; communication; customer focus; informed decision-making; knowledgeable; professionalism; self-development; and teamwork.
During the planning and design phase of the L&D strategy, our Learning function was asked to determine how to organize competency development and create a plan to close skill or behavioral gaps in the top three competencies in time for use in 2010 performance planning.
Kelli Loveless, manager of Learning & Development, recommended the creation of an interactive content distribution platform to address competency gaps and facilitate employee development. “We chose the name ‘iLearn’ for our portal because we believe the name reflects the active responsibility and accountability each employee bears for his or her professional learning and development,” says Loveless. “iLearn also underscores the interactive, self-guided nature of the environment.”
Adds Vice President/People & Organization Development Director Maureen Wolfe, “We view iLearn as an innovative new investment in the development of our people. iLearn empowers our employees to take charge of their professional development, and its resources enhance performance planning across our organization.”
The outlay for the portal was relatively low because it was designed, developed, and implemented by a team of fewer than 10 people, who worked on it part-time over several months. L&D collaborated with ESL’s IT team and Information Management administrator during the design and implementation phase of this portal. The most significant challenges were finding targeted content for each competency and designing a logical, friendly user interface that would enable employees to get to relevant information within two clicks. An external Web designer developed a set of easy-to-navigate html-based pages that emulated the look and feel of our intranet, ESLtoday. For the content, each member of the six-person L&D team was assigned responsibility for finding or developing targeted content for specific core competencies. The L&D manager made the assignments based on each team member’s work experience, subject matter expertise, and professional skills and interests.
Content in iLearn evolves based on its value and relevancy within each core competency. The L&D team furnishes and manages all of the resources within the portal, providing access to a blend of custom in-house materials and free or cost-effective external resources. On a quarterly basis, the team conducts a comprehensive review of all content in the portal, assessing whether it is still timely and pertinent to one or more competencies. The team removes weak or obsolete content whenever it is discovered. Other departments in the organization are encouraged to recommend value-added resources for iLearn, but only the L&D team is authorized to post new content in this environment.
As a result, today iLearn is a wide-ranging portal that organizes a comprehensive array of learning resources for each competency, including links to instructor-led training (ILT) classes, self-paced e-learning modules, targeted books, articles, job aids, quick reference guides, recommended external workshops, and other support materials related to each competency. It also provides access to professional development visits (called “iVisits”) to other departments to expand knowledge about their roles and responsibilities, improve inter-departmental communication, and foster enhanced teamwork throughout the organization. iLearn is not integrated with a talent management system or learning management system, but it does reside within our intranet.
The iLearn portal is designed for everyone in the organization—from the C-suite to front-line employees to support staff and contractors. All employees can browse our iLearn portal at their convenience—a great benefit to front-line employees who have time limitations because member service always takes precedence. At the moment, the Learning function is tracking the number of page views on iLearn and looking at whether managers and employees use iLearn in the performance planning process, but not specifically investigating who is making use of the portal.
ESL requires that each employee’s performance plan specify knowledge and skill objectives in at least one of the eight core competencies. These objectives must be linked to one or more corporate strategic objectives. The resources in iLearn are designed to facilitate professional learning and development in the core competencies deemed critical to the continued success of our enterprise. L&D Manager Loveless provides “road show” demonstrations to managers and employees throughout the company to showcase the power and utility of this portal as a performance planning tool. Each employee works with his or her manager to define performance gaps that need development within one or more competencies. For example, an employee may have trouble with written communication. He or she then would access our iLearn site and navigate to the Communication page to access all available resources.
Tips for Creating a Portal