Chapter 6

Cultivating an Always-on Learning Culture with Digital Enablement

We designed our digital enablement strategy with Spekit to reclaim wasted time. If reps aren’t having to hunt for information, they can focus on what they’re good at—building relationships with carriers.

When I joined Uber Freight, everything was chaotic—in the best possible way.

It was April 2018 and the business unit was just one year old. We were trying to stand up a brand business in a huge, messy market. Our days were filled with new challenges and fresh opportunities. Regardless of our backgrounds, everyone was expected to think and act like a generalist. If you saw a problem, you went and fixed it—even if it wasn’t technically your problem.

Before I arrived, Uber Freight relied on one fabulous trainer: Christina. Her entire work life was dedicated to onboarding new employees and getting people in their seats as quickly as possible. The business was growing so quickly that she was sometimes onboarding a new cohort every single day of the week.

My arrival doubled our learning and development capacity. With space to breathe, we got to work building a best-in-class onboarding system buoyed by a robust digital enablement strategy.

Welcome to Freightversity

Within my first year, we established Freightversity, our flagship onboarding program. It’s a one-week experience that every single new hire goes through, regardless of their tenure, experience, or position. 

Our goal with the program was to help our employees understand four things:

  1. Why Uber Freight exists.
  2. The role we play in the industry.
  3. The role we play within Uber.
  4. How our mission serves the User’s mission.

We achieve those aims through inspirational and engaging talks, sessions, and workshops. 

On day one, we’ll give people a big welcome and get them set up on tools, technology, and services. We’ll also dive in and start talking about Uber Freight as a company: How do we see the transportation industry? How do we see our business? Who are our customers?

This stage is universal, so we have technical and non-technical folk sitting alongside each other. It’s a great opportunity for knowledge sharing and relationship building. 

Once people have a grasp of the high-level concepts, we focus on Uber Freight. What does it mean to work here? What are the different teams? How do they interact with each other? Through the week, we’ll introduce people to our culture, our products, and a range of teams.

Finally, we bring in a suite of guest speakers—executives, superstar employees, and external stakeholders. Their job is to tie everything together. They explain how the work we do drives Uber Freight’s mission, and how everything we do is guided by our company values (or as we call them, “Freightisms”).

Everything we do is guided by our company values (or as we call them, “Freightisms”).

It’s a whirlwind week, and it’s just the beginning of onboarding.

 

 

Divide and conquer

In the second week, people graduate from Freightversity and head into smaller onboarding flows, depending on their line of business. One example is our carrier sales organization. (This is the team calling carriers and encouraging them to sign up to our app.)

Employees within the carrier team enter a second week-long onboarding process. It’s a blend of instructor-led sessions and self-study work. At this stage of the onboarding process, we’re getting much deeper into specific day-to-day responsibilities, knowledge, and skills.

Say we’re onboarding a new sales rep into the carrier organization. We’ll share their OKRs, the goals that we’re going to hold them accountable to. We’ll familiarize them with the product they’re going to be selling. We’ll get them comfortable with our sales methodology.

Where possible, we reinforce training content by allowing employees to actually do the work. Practically, this means having new hires shadow existing employees. We also run regular assessment-based check-ins. These allow employees to prove that they know enough for us to release them onto the floor.

Where possible, we reinforce training content by allowing employees to actually do the work. 

You might be thinking that this is a lot for an employee to absorb—and you’d be right. This is where our complementary digital enablement strategy comes in.

Drinking from the firehose

A new hire at Uber Freight has to learn anywhere up to 30 different tools. The reality is: It doesn’t matter how much we let an employee get their hands dirty. They are never going to retain enough information to be competent on every one of them.

For example, say a rep learns how to balance a load in their first couple of weeks at Uber Freight. Conceivably, it could be two or three months before they have to perform that task in the real world. By then, they’ll almost certainly have forgotten what to do. That’s the reality of learning and development.

In the past, the rep would have to dig through our knowledge base, hunting for an elusive deck where a trainer demoed the load balancing process. But our digital enablement process offers an alternative. Using Spekit, our digital enablement tool, the rep can access training materials from within the service they’re using. They just click on the learning hotspot and Spekit provides a walkthrough, or links off to the related training material.

We designed our digital enablement strategy with Spekit to reclaim wasted time. If reps aren’t having to hunt for information, they can focus on what they’re good at—building relationships with carriers. 

We designed our digital enablement strategy with Spekit to reclaim wasted time. If reps aren’t having to hunt for information, they can focus on what they’re good at—building relationships with carriers. 

But digital enablement goes further than just reinforcing skills.

While Uber Freight is now an established organization in this logistics space, we’re still evolving at a breakneck pace. There’s a lot for our people to keep up with. We launch new products weekly, if not daily. We expect our reps to understand these products and how to sell them.

Then there are functional changes in our tooling. If we tweak a process or alter a user interface, that affects hundreds of employees. While there might be a really good reason for the change, it will disrupt our employees’ work.

Change isn’t going to stop. It’s not even going to slow down. Indeed, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the work-from-home revolution, change is more prolific than ever. 

Before the pandemic, leaders could walk through the office and ask employees if they were coping with change. They could field questions and offer reassurances. But in our remote-first world, that’s not an option. 

I see Spekit as a critical resource in our change management lifecycle. It provides an always-on channel for education and information. It allows us to connect the dots and explain the why behind changes, launches, and pivots.

I see Spekit as a critical resource in our change management lifecycle. It provides an always-on channel for education and information. It allows us to connect the dots and explain the why behind changes, launches, and pivots.

Discover streamlined onboarding 

Freightversity and role-specific onboarding take no more than a few weeks. But we know that effective onboarding takes longer than that. It’s like trying to drink from a firehose of knowledge. Sure, you might be able to chug a couple of sips, but gallons of water will shoot right past you.

Our onboarding integration program extends our involvement beyond these first two workflows. The program runs through the full first year of an employee’s lifecycle. We drip new knowledge, reinforce existing content, and push people to keep developing. Getting employees to a point where they are fully operational in their role feels like the end—but for us, it’s just the beginning.

Get your ebook

Ready to learn more?

Click here to download the full eBook