Training Tips

Learning Methods

Great Example of E-learning 
That's Creating Performance

Behind the wild enthusiasm is the imperative to stay competitive in a fast-changing economy. Gone are the days of long product cycles, 12-week management courses, and hefty travel budgets to cover in-person training. 
  • The winner is often the one who zaps new information out to the sales force fastest. Rather than fly trainers to 7,000 dealerships, General Motors University now uses interactive satellite broadcasts to help salespeople learn the best way to highlight features on the new Buick. Six months before rolling out a hot new pickup, GM used the broadcasts to teach mechanics learn how to repair it; at one point, 1,400 employees around North America were participating. "If we'd had to send everyone to a bricks-and-mortar class, we never would have got all of it done," says GM learning chief Donnee Ramelli.
  • Pharmaceutical companies like Merck are conducting live, interactive classes over the Web, allowing sales reps to bone up on the latest product information at home rather than fly to a conference center. 
  • Intel employees out west can pursue an M.B.A. program designed exclusively for them via laptop, without having to take a sabbatical from work or decline out-of-town assignments. 
  • Recognizing the benefits, Motorola's admired corporate university already conducts 30 percent of its training online and aims to deliver half its courses electronically in the next few years. 
  • McDonald's trainees will get a taste of Web-based learning later this year by logging into Hamburger University and honing such skills as how to assemble a made-to-order burger or properly place the drink on a tray. 
  • Circuit City's tutorial on digital camcorders consists of three 20-minute segments. Each contains audio demonstrations of how to handle customer queries (which cables are needed to E-mail video?), tests on terminology, and "try its" that propel trainees back onto the floor to practice what they've learned. Students with questions can E-mail experts and receive a response within 24 hours. 
  • Continuing Medical Education at  Detroit Receiving Hospital, embraces Web-based CME, which has put 150 interactive case studies on the Web so that doctors inside and outside the hospital can log on and learn about the latest diagnostic practices or drug therapies. As in conventional morning rounds, physicians take a virtual patient's history, view the MRIs and blood smears, make a diagnosis, and suggest treatment. Internist Lavoisier Cardozo, who oversees, says that working through all 150 cases has "helped me become more versatile."
  • As recently as five years ago, every new full-time "sales counselor" would have traveled to the store's Richmond, Va., base for five days of classroom training. Today, with nearly 600 superstores, 50,000 employees, and a rapidly changing inventory of digital cameras, high-definition TVs, and other consumer electronics, the training needs are far more complex–and they're ongoing. So Circuit City executives spent three intensive days talking about how to create a learning culture and get the best results, and hooked up with a training company to design and post customized courses. They thus avoided the common trap of simply uploading the old text-based lessons onto a new delivery system.

    Because the company's core staff is made up of 18-to-30-year-olds with "point-and-click attention spans," says Jeff Wells, senior vice president for human resources, courses had to be short, fun, flexible, interactive, and instantly applicable on the job. "We were trying to create a direct link between learning and earning," explains Wells. In the year since the system debuted, the time needed to educate a new hire has fallen by half, and Circuit City has pared its training department from 83 people to 13. "Within a few hours, we reduced the training budget by 50 percent and improved effectiveness," says Wells. So far, at least, he has seen no downside. At outlets like the Sterling, Va., store, E-learning has translated into happier customers–and more sales. 

Excerpted from U.S. News article, "They're online and on the job: Managers and hamburger flippers are being E-trained at work"


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