Then we take them to "Leadership III," which is our course on retaining talent. It talks about how to make sure that you are
providing meaningful work for your representatives. We use a "Retention Action Planner," where you want to maintain your solid
performers. You have to pay attention to each individual person who works for you and help them get to where they want to
go. Subsequently you get to where you want to go.
These are simple concepts obviously, but I think the beauty is that with the feedback instrument and competency-based training,
we are able to pinpoint exactly what each individual needs. We use a variety of people to help us. We have some vendors, but
we are also blessed with a group of internal trainers in the management ranks that is one of the best in the industry, as
far as I'm concerned.
We constantly get a flow of good new managers moving through our organization. We bring them through the training department
and maybe move them into marketing from there or back into sales management. We have a nice mixture of experienced trainers
as well as successful people moving through our organization. The common ground is sound instructional design.
What do you think the impact of all of this is on retaining good people? Do you think it adds to their interest in staying
with the company?
Absolutely. That is something that we strive to do. But first of all we strive to practice what we preach. In the training
department, the people we bring in are all highly motivated, successful people. We try to get them to where they want to go.
And that opens up the doors for new people coming in.
We try to employ the same thought process out in the field as well, where district managers are working with their reps or
field managers, or Area Business Directors are working with their district managers, helping them to obtain their goals. They
are going to constantly attract more and more good people to their organization.
It definitely has an impact when you treat people the way they want to be treated. Not everyone wants to move to headquarters,
but everybody has a success point out there—be it in the same territory for 20 or 30 years or moving all the way up the ranks
to president of the company. There is something that motivates each individual. We have an entire program around career advancement,
career coaching, a number of different programs that help us manage talent.
One of the key success factors for district managers is actually being in the field. How much time are they spending out of
the field for this training?
In the scheme of things, not a lot. New reps spend about 19 days in the classroom—down from 30 five years ago. When you
look at manager training, you are probably talking about five to 10 classroom days at the most per year.
But we also have employed a lot of techniques that save time. We can do many things at a distance now. Today's learners coming
out of college are used to working on the Web. They are coming in prepared for different classrooms.
We have heard managers say, "You cannot take my people of out their territories too often." Personally, I don't think you
can take them out often enough. The more they learn from each other in some kind of group setting, the better they are going
to be when they go back out in the field.
It is not like we are taking them out 50 percent of the time. It's not like we are even taking them out 5 percent of the time.
Yes, we want to protect their time in the field. We try to maximize that. But again, I do not think you can invest enough
in training. The payback should be there, so that for every day they invest, they get five days back. Those are some of the
things we have looked at over the last five years of becoming more efficient in what we do.
Technology is important. We have a learning management system (LMS) that does a lot of things for us, from providing curricula
to transcripts to scheduling classes and taking tests. It helps you organize everything you do.
Is that something that you bought from the outside?
Yes. We bought the software a number of years ago, and we use it as our training platform. Everybody in the organization,
from reps to marketing people, knows that it is the place to go to engage in all the aspects of training. Their curriculum
is there, the coursework they have taken, the test results they have seen. And not only can they see it, but their management
can see it, and we can roll up the information. That has really helped us organize what we do.