Onboarding

Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

Why Training from Day One Just Makes Sense

We’ve all heard the expression “practice makes perfect.” When I was young, my dad would provide me with all kinds of objects of curiosity to keep me active, help me learn discipline and (most of the time) test my resolve. My first BB gun, a set of weights, baseball bats/gloves and footballs all were handed to me with instruction from dad to “get out there, use these things, and get good at them.”day1training

Now picture yourself at eight, nine or even 49… and someone simply hands you something to do and tells you to go out and get good at it. Don’t get me wrong, my dad was a great man and meant well, but it was near impossible to succeed without basic instruction and direction, encouragement when I succeeded and consequences when I didn’t.

Each of us has witnessed firsthand the results of self-directed instruction without skill or discipline. Schools and businesses are littered with self-proclaimed experts in skills untested. Employees are placed into jobs with some preparation, but not always tested or incentivized to perfect their trade, service or skill. We rock along looking for performance, and performance doesn’t come. When performance doesn’t come, the employee and employer become frustrated and perhaps disengaged. They try “emergency room” triage education and encouragement, then move to minor – and sometimes major – surgery (i.e., classes, seminars, coaches and mentors). More often than not, it’s too late.

Blueline Simulations offers a variety of blended learning solutions to give your employees the skills and strategies they need to succeed from the beginning… thereby avoiding frustration, disengagement and the need to backpedal in an effort to get things on the right track. For you, this means your strategic goals are being pursued. For your employees, it means added competence and confidence to meet those goals.

Our engaging curriculum includes immersive onboarding experiences that engage and prepare new hires for success from day one – a move that could save your organization millions of dollars. We also offer leadership development for new leaders and business transformation for organizations that want to set their employees up for success through change.

I invite you to contact us to learn more about any of our business acumen options, custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

Questions about the learning innovations that are shaping 2015?  Blueline has the answers. 

New technologies are making it possible to create incredibly immersive learning solutions at a price point that wasn’t imaginable just a few years ago. For example, a Fortune 100 wireless carrier needed an immersive simulation with integrated social media to onboard and encourage networking among new Sales Representatives. Because retail and wireless change so often and so fast, the solution needed to be easy and cost effective to update and maintain. Learn how Blueline partnered with our client to design a 3D “Level 4” simulation that could influence your learning organization’s vision for the future.

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Onboarding Sales Professionals with Online Simulation

In a previous blog, I described how we created an award winning onboarding experience for the legendary consulting firm: Booz Allen Hamilton. And in the one prior to that, I outlined our secret recipe. (If you missed that blog you may want to take a look now, because I’m going to showcase new ways to provide context, create a strong first impression, ensure engagement and fun, and reflect the client’s culture.)

Today I’d like to tell you about an ambitious “Level 4” simulation we developed. That is, it uses a gaming engine with rules and probabilities, as well as deeply pathed scenarios that mimic real-life customer interactions.

We built it for a retail client who was looking for an immersive, updatable experience for their Sales Representatives in an accurate store setting. And given the fast-paced nature of this retail space, our team’s goal was to build an experience that could be easily updated.

We developed a solution that uses a “mashup”of several technologies. It’s broken into several components which all work together to speed learner development: the Overview, the Virtual Store and the ASK System.

The Overview of the course is a 3D model of a typical retail store.  It showcases all of the devices that can be found in the stores and provides links with detailed information and videos. Facets of the store, such as the demonstration area, use green screen video of a narrator in front of rendered virtual elements to instruct on its use. Because change is constant in a retail environment, all of the devices can be easily updated or changed, and the information provided in many of the links often points to materials that exist elsewhere to simplify maintenance.

After exploring the Overview, learners are invited to navigate the Virtual Store and interact with customers. They “walk” through the environment by panning with the mouse or using the arrow keys. As they encounter customers in the store, they can click on them to begin a sales interaction. There are dozens of scenarios, each representing a different sales conversation with multiple endpoints. They focus on a range of relevant sales concepts: either a service, a detailed portion of the sales process, or the features and functions of a new product. As they interact with each customer, the learner can experience a range of up to nine animated emotional states.

Learners are evaluated on sales and customer satisfaction. Relative success in one scenario can cause other “virtual” customers in the store to be angry or happy, which affects subsequent interactions. Feedback is typically provided at the end of the interaction.

In the ASK System, we filmed and indexed approximately 100 videos of our client’s associates to support best practices, tips, and advice on selling. The videos serve as a virtual coach and can be accessed at any time via search or in response to frequently asked questions. Using tagging and scoring, the videos (and associated FAQs) intelligently arrange themselves based on rating and “relatedness” to the video that is currently being viewed.

Together, the Overview, the Virtual Store and the ASK System provide new learners with a comprehensive, risk free learning environment in which they can hone their skills. And because the content is kept up to date, learners are encouraged to return often to use it as reference and to learn about new devices and sales techniques as they are introduced.

It’s another great example of how virtual tools are creating incredibly robust learning solutions at a price point that wasn’t possible even five years ago. The world of learning is changing fast. At Blueline Simulations, we’re committed to staying on top of it, and bringing you the very latest and best technologies.

We’ve got a few more learning tricks up our sleeves. We’d love to show you, and then help you imagine the incredible levels of efficiency, engagement, retention and organizational change that are available to organizations like yours.

Taken from The Words of That Great Orator Paul Harvey: And Now, The Rest of The Story.

We’ve shared with you in recent posts about our overall work with onboarding and specifically our onboarding work with our client partners at Booz Allen Hamilton. In this post we want to disclose the results of our combined efforts there and the tools that we are utilizing in our current and future work in the onboarding space.

Since the onboarding program at Booz Allen Hamilton launched in November 2009, more than 8,000 employees have participated. Survey results both objective and subjective reveal that the more engaging and interactive program has netted positive results in many areas:

1. Reduction of risk and better adherence to compliance starting in week one. New hires have an improved awareness and understanding of critical firm compliance policies which enhances decision making that could vitally impact the firm’s credibility and legal culpability.

2. Productivity gains attributed to the job readiness of new hires going through the program. Data collected from internal surveys reveal higher (6% average increase) levels of perceived job readiness and impact among new hires participating in the enhanced onboarding program relative to the legacy program. When asked if new employees receive the onboarding they need to perform their roles effectively, employees rated the program a 4 out of 5 or higher 75% of the time. This is a full 23 points above the benchmark norm.

Booz Allen Hamilton estimates that for each day the organization’s new hires are not productive, the firm could lose up to $1 million dollars in potential revenue. Clearly the new program has contributed significant monetary gains.

3. Attrition rates for employees with tenure of 6 months or less have been reduced by four percentage points since the launch of the enhanced onboarding program. This is six percentage points below the norm of similarly-tenured staff at other benchmark companies.                                                                                                                                                            When new hires have a good understanding of the organization and the culture they are joining, in addition to insights about their journey ahead based on immersion into simulated real life situations with real life decisions, they are more grounded and well-suited for what lies ahead – not surprising.

4. The firm has experienced increased levels of new hire affiliation and engagement. A few of the most revealing facts include:

* Greater than 95% of participants acknowledge the program had a positive impact on their impression of the company. This has contributed to the decline in attrition as mentioned above.

* Interactivity and networking components are two of the most commonly mentioned positive attributes of the enhanced onboarding.

* Program surveys indicate that the firm’s enhanced onboarding program is outperforming the legacy program in 6 out of 7 survey question categories, including environment, logistics, guest speakers, instructors, objectives, and ROI.

* 96% of participants have rated the enhanced onboarding curriculum, ROI, instructors, and program logistics higher than comparable components of the firm’s legacy onboarding program.

The complete and immersive approach to onboarding at Booz Allen Hamilton promotes accountability while creating value for new hires, their managers, and the firm in a variety of ways.

But we haven’t stopped with this success. At Blueline Simulations we customize solutions to meet the unique needs of our clients. And those needs are varied when it comes to onboarding programs. We want participants to be engaged. We want attrition rates to be low.

We want the solutions that we create to be the best that have been experienced and we have lots of creative solutions for accomplishing that.

Gone are the days when live classroom training that involves travel, meeting space and logistics are required.

By making the most of remote meeting technologies such as GotoMeeting and Adobe Acrobat Connect, the possibilities are limitless! We are taking advantage of these tools and others like them to facilitate training remotely.  The use of storylines and journals, live and archived interviews, individual and team assignments completed remotely or live, chat, polling, remote whiteboard and breakouts all ensure that the level of engagement and retention remain high.

We look forward to sharing more with you about our successes and ideas in future blogs.