Chapter 2

How We Rebuilt Training When Our Headcount Tripled

If you only train employees on functional processes—how to use a particular app, for example—you teach them what to do, but not why they should do it. To drive long-lasting change, employees should understand why they’re doing something and how it ties into broader company processes and strategies.

In the fall of 2018, I accepted a new Salesforce training and documentation role within JLL Technologies. I’d been with the company for several years, and knew the business well. With around 200 Salesforce users, it was tight-knit and mature.

An upcoming organizational transformation was about to push the organization out of its comfort zone and into a period of breakneck growth—a move that would triple our Salesforce user base.

We knew our current training processes couldn’t cope with that sort of growth. The clock was ticking to overhaul our processes and systems before our first cohort of new users arrived.

We knew our current training processes couldn’t cope with that sort of growth. The clock was ticking to overhaul our processes and systems before our first cohort of new users arrived.

Rethinking training for scale

Before the transformation, JLL Technologies relied on traditional training tactics like classroom sessions and webinars. We would run live sessions and upload the recordings for people to access later. We also had  PDF reference guides, pitch decks, and presentations. It was basic and rudimentary.

We had a cohort of seasoned Salesforce users, most of whom had been using the product for several years. If users had an issue or needed training, they could meet one-on-one with one of those super users, a team trainer, or even a support team member to clear things up.

But the organizational transformation posed a whole new challenge. We were expecting several hundred new employees in the New Year, the majority of whom were not only new to JLL, but to the technology we used.

But the organizational transformation posed a whole new challenge. We were expecting several hundred new employees in the New Year, the majority of whom were not only new to JLL, but to the technology we used.

Along with my team, I resolved to rebuild JLL Technologies’ Salesforce training processes to support its next phase of growth.

We proceduralized everything and created a formal training approach. New employees would go through onboarding, specialized role training, and refresher sessions. We also shifted away from solely synchronous classroom sessions. Instead, we delivered universal training via asynchronous online learning and used face-to-face time to deliver highly personalized or customized sessions.

Although our new training regime still utilized human trainers like me, it wasn’t reliant on us. We could scale from single-person hiring intakes to one hundred-person cohorts without also hiring an army of training specialists.

Most corporate training aims to develop employees to a minimum competency. But our enforced redesign provided an opportunity to do something different. We began thinking about how we could support employees continuously, helping them evolve in their use of Salesforce.

We began thinking about how we could support employees continuously, helping them evolve in their use of Salesforce.

 


 

Integrating digital adoption

To make training an ongoing process, we implemented a new learning tool within Salesforce, called Spekit. It acts as a layer within Salesforce, allowing employees to access knowledge, processes and resources without ever leaving the workflow they’re in. It sounds simple, but that immediate access to information is lacking from most training programs. Digital adoption drove two significant benefits to our training regime.

To make training an ongoing process, we implemented a new learning tool within Salesforce, called Spekit. It acts as a layer within Salesforce, allowing employees to access knowledge, processes and resources without ever leaving the workflow they’re in.

First, it accelerated everything.

People learn through repetition. Ordinarily, that repetition comes from repeated in-person sessions or self-practice. But with digital adoption, we could reinforce live training after the fact and even introduce new materials and ideas. It also enhanced the onboarding experience because it felt like a trainer was always there to support employees. 

With digital adoption, we could reinforce live training after the fact and even introduce new materials and ideas. It also enhanced the onboarding experience because it felt like a trainer was always there to support employees. 

Because we had a solid base of reliable training content, this significantly reduced reliance on human support. If an employee wanted to check or clarify something, they didn’t have to wait for a trainer to become available. They could access answers instantly with Spekit embedded across every workflow. It also meant our people stopped going to unreliable sources. Instead of resorting to Google, they could instantly access answers within our knowledge base.

The second benefit went beyond specific skills and competencies.

If you only train employees on functional processes—how to use a particular app, for example—you teach them what to do, but not why they should do it. Say I tell someone to fill out a particular form or follow a rigid process; it’s entirely reasonable for them to think, “Why do we even use this form? What purpose does this process serve internally?”

If you only train employees on functional processes—how to use a particular app, for example—you teach them what to do, but not why they should do it.

To drive long-lasting change, employees should understand why they’re doing something and how it ties into broader company processes and strategies.

We encourage people to seek answers for themselves and give them the tools to do so. Using Spekit, they can connect the dots and discover how their work supports their colleagues and the broader organization.

We encourage people to seek answers for themselves and give them the tools to do so. Using Spekit, they can connect the dots and discover how their work supports their colleagues and the broader organization.

As JLL Technologies progressed through its organizational transformation, communicating the bigger picture became more and more important. We were moving quickly and changing a lot—both on a strategic and day-to-day level. That had a downstream impact on people’s work. What they did yesterday wasn’t necessarily what we were asking them to do tomorrow. 

Spekit allowed us to communicate the reasoning behind updates in real-time. It helped us explain that this wasn’t change for change’s sake. We were adapting, evolving, and growing.

Spekit allowed us to communicate the reasoning behind updates in real-time. It helped us explain that this wasn’t change for change’s sake. We were adapting, evolving, and growing.

From 200 to 600 to 1,300

 JLL Technologies didn’t stop growing. Today, our Salesforce user count is more than 1,300. With an old, outdated training program, such rapid growth would have terrified me—but not anymore. 

We’ve built a consistent and scalable training strategy that can grow alongside our business. Thanks to our focus on digital adoption and partnership with Spekit, our training isn’t just for brand new employees. It’s ongoing and always-on. We’re not just helping people get to grips with technology, we’re helping them master it.

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