When Ferril Onyett and Mazen Albatarseh tackled the challenge of delivering impactful training to 150,000+ employees across the globe, they walked away with a case study that focused more about the analysis of their dispersed workforce needs, and less about the solution.
Their solution: to train Taco Bell's front line employees, which turns over at an astronomical rate of 140%, the company uses eLearning combined with on-the-job observation. This shouldn’t surprise us. Google "training dispersed workforce," and the use of some form of eLearning resource -- be it an online library or an LMS – will appear somewhere on the blog posts and web sites that populate the search results.
What resonated with our members, however, was the approach that Ferril Onyett (Director, People Development and Global Learning) and Mazen Albatarseh (Director of Management Systems and the Customer Engagement team) took to hone their program. Turns out, they were using eLearning before. It just wasn't effective.
"The most important take away for me was seeing the way that the Taco Bell team had graphed the behaviors/experiences of the customers, the front line workers, the assistant managers, and the managers into one document,” shared Laurie Reinhart. “This helped them clarify exactly what was valuable and what added no value in terms of what the company was requiring of franchisees.” Laurie appreciated that methodology so much that: “I have adapted and applied their grid-based analysis to the development plan for my own consulting group."
A key component of that grid-based analysis was a focus on Taco-Bell's customers. Mazen took great care to show that everything, from the training of the front line employees to the training of the restaurant managers, was tied to the customer experience.
Mary MacKey appreciated "how they detailed each step of the process for each level of participation (manager, team member, and customer and showed the relationship among them all) – work as a team. This was a good reminder to focus on in some current projects."
So if Taco Bell was delivering eLearning before the time period addressed in their case study, and continued to deliver eLearning afterwards, what differed? Training's focus on the essentials.
“The response from everyone that there are approximately 1000 acronyms and 200 some-odd amount of things a manager needed to do was a loud cry to how out of control things can become if you don’t look at the big picture," commented Mary. While neither Mazen nor Ferril did anything to assure us that the number of acronyms had diminished (indeed, Ms. Onyett added a new one during her presentation), they stressed multiple times that the key measurements that both the company and training were focusing on totalled 26. This reduction of information overload most impacted the new hire training program, reducing the time spent in front of eLearning content more than 60%.
Ferril and Mazen’s story showed that the key to training a dispersed workforce has less to do with the solutions you provide than everything else that comes before it.
"Hearing their story reinforced the importance of one's credibility and track record within the organization," said Laurie. "Because they had an established record and enjoyed the confidence of the organization's leadership, they were able to adapt their approach when they needed to do so."