(One of the commitments we made at Legion this year was to discuss our annual strategic plan with the staff on a monthly basis. Every month, we take one section of the strategy we laid out last year and break it down in the weekly staff meetings, followed by a period of feedback and discussion so all the employees can give their opinions, suggestions, etc. Then we take one of those suggestions that we feel is actionable, and hold ourselves accountable for executing it. In May, that topic was training.)
At Legion, we pride ourselves on training our people well. One of the biggest complaints employees have when they start a new job is that they aren’t given the training or tools they need to be successful in their new role. We want to be sure that everyone who works at Legion has every possible opportunity to be successful. I never want someone to come to me and say that they could have been amazing at their job if only they’d had more training on the front end, or on an ongoing basis. To this end, part of our strategic vision for the company is “We Have Unbeatable Training.”
I’m not going to outline our entire training program in this blog post, because that would bore all of you to death and take up the entire post without making my larger point. (Spoiler alert: The larger point is that my employees are awesome.) Suffice it to say that we have worked for years to establish, tweak, blow up, rebuild, tweak some more and refine our training process. And we are never done. Part of any great training program is a constant feedback loop from the people who are being trained, and we build feedback into every single training class we have, both anonymously and in-person.
But sometimes it helps to take a 30,000 foot view as well. So this month, in our strategy sessions, I asked our employees what they would have like to have been trained on when they first started, or what one thing they learned later on that they wish they had known in their first few weeks. I expected a few of the answers, which got pretty deep in the weeds of 3PL-specific technology. And there was the one person who said he wished he’d had some self-defense training. (I think that was my brother – he’s the only employee I’m allowed to beat up, and I take advantage of that opportunity regularly. He also punches back, so don’t worry. We’re equal-opportunity here.)
The big surprise, and my baseball-bat-to-the-face moment (I don’t have lightbulb moments. Mine are much more violent than that.) was that many of our employees who work on the support side said they wished they’d had more training on the sales side of things when they started. Not because they wanted to be salespeople, but because they felt that if they had more training on how the brokerage works, they could have done a better job supporting the sales staff.
And this is where we get to the point about my employees being awesome. It’s not enough for my accounting staff to understand how to process payables and receivables. They also want to know how the salespeople work – how they talk to customers, what’s important to them – so they can be MORE effective at helping the sales team grow and develop. They want to understand the process, the struggle, the problems and the solutions so we can all work together more effectively as a unit, rather than separate departments.
As our actionable step, we’ve decided to put all new hires, not just salespeople, through our week-long basic training course, and allow any of the support staff who want more training now to sit in with new classes. I’m excited to see how the different perspectives and questions change our basic training course, and if any of the support staff decide they want to sit in on sales training in the future. I believe that the more perspectives we have, the better, in the classroom.