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Developing and Facilitating a Train-the-Trainer Program to Support Onboarding for a Global IT Leader

Information Technology | Training and Education Services

TEKsystems designed, developed and delivered facilitation training in support of a large IT company’s new employee orientation program.

Our client is a global leader in information technology. This company designs, builds and sells networking products, services and solutions to businesses around the world. TEKsystems has partnered with this client since 2000.

As companies bounce back from the economic downturn of the late 2000s and early 2010s, they are finding themselves in a position that they have not been in a while: hiring. But instead of just adding headcount, organizations are taking proactive steps to make smarter IT hiring decisions. 

Hiring and retaining top talent is challenging, especially in the IT industry. Over 80 percent of IT leaders say it is extremely or moderately difficult to find quality candidates for open IT positions.1 Thus, once a successful candidate is identified and hired, it is extremely important for the new employee to become engaged and feel like a part of the company immediately. After all, the costs of losing a new employee are too high: hiring and training costs can vary from 25 to 200 percent of annual compensation.2

Having a strong, consistent onboarding program is a key component to achieving new employee engagement. Successful onboarding engages new employees by informing them about both the company's structure and culture; helping them build a support network that extends beyond their immediate department, colleagues and supervisor; and giving them the tools to be successful in their day-to-day work life and throughout their career with the company. 

Organizations investing in talent retention are looking to vendors like TEKsystems Training and Education Services to build and enhance their onboarding processes to better compete for and keep top talent. They are seeking support in defining an onboarding structure, implementing best practices and building internal staff competencies around facilitation of engaging, high-quality onboarding programs.

Our client was in the midst of a transformation. They were evolving from a product company to a services organization. During the economic downturn, the client made a significant number of layoffs. But by the end of 2013, the client was gaining market share and was in a hiring surge. Over a 12-month period, they planned to hire 7,000 new employees with advanced skills in security, data center and cloud/collaboration. As a top-tier IT company, our client has recently seen increased competition from other tech companies for highly skilled IT talent, both globally and at their Silicon Valley headquarters. To achieve their goal of becoming the No. 1 IT company in the world, the client needed to hire, develop and retain top talent. A key step to meeting that goal would be improving their onboarding processes. 

The client developed a new employee orientation program, an interactive two-day event with a high level of audience engagement that encompasses unique enablement tools, an inherent part of the client’s product line. It was critical that all new employees understood the company’s products and be able to provide excellent customer service, regardless of their position within the company, as well as become engaged with the organization right away. Because of the large number of new hires coming on board, the client needed to quickly develop a team of talented facilitators to deliver the new employee orientation program. 

The client’s human resources (HR) department had traditionally led new-hire training, but our client wanted to broaden their pool of training facilitators to include employees from across the company, such as engineering and enablement services. The idea behind this collaborative concept was for existing employees to interact with new employees and share their experiences, personal stories, expertise and insights for success. Leveraging an internal volunteer program and an overall culture of volunteerism within the company, several eager individuals emerged who wanted to share their time and experiences as facilitators. But these volunteers lacked a key element to lead a successful new employee orientation session: facilitation skills. 

The company reached out to TEKsystems Training and Education Services to design, develop and deliver facilitation training. TEKsystems was chosen because of our successful track record of delivering engaging, customized learning solutions for the client.
We recommended a two-day train-the-trainer custom IT training course to cover both facilitation skills and teachbacks, so each facilitator could practice their delivery and demonstrate their mastery of the content. We used a learning framework that included formal (instructor-led) education, as well as learning through exposure (e.g., participating in interactive booth demonstrations, acting as participants during teachbacks) and experience (e.g., leading teachbacks and activities). 

The first day of facilitation training focused on facilitation skills. We taught the concept of many-to-many learning (how to facilitate conversation and engage with an audience). The facilitators also learned about different personalities in the learning environment and how to engage the different personalities through role playing. We also covered key skills that make a great facilitator: planning, preparation and presentation. 

The second day of facilitation training was teachbacks, where each participant delivered a section of the new employee orientation and received immediate feedback and coaching, from both their peers and the TEKsystems facilitator. The other participants experienced orientation from the new employee’s perspective, including participation in discussions, booth demonstrations and games. Also, this portion helped the participants bond, which was important since they would be facilitating the new employee orientation in pairs. 

After completion of TEKsystems’ train-the-trainer course, the client’s new employee orientation facilitators were able to:
  • Demonstrate intermediate to advanced facilitation skills, including content delivery, questioning and feedback
  • Facilitate new employee orientation with confidence, energy and enthusiasm
  • Demonstrate the qualities involved in preparing and presenting new employee orientation 
  • Model the company’s values and culture as part of the learning experience
  • Relate content to the company vision and culture through their knowledge of the company personal stories and experience
  • Demonstrate ability to handle classroom logistics, including technology, transitions, guest speakers, props and visual aids
  • Coordinate group activities, encourage participation and provide constructive feedback

The course material was over a year old by the time TEKsystems got involved, and in that time the client experienced significant changes that were not reflected in the material (e.g., CEO retirement / new leadership, major product changes). Also, the content was challenging for new, inexperienced facilitators. We overhauled the content in the new employee orientation facilitator and participant guides and added features that eased the facilitation experience. These new features were a direct result of comments from the new facilitators, who were overwhelmingly pleased with the new design. 

Our client tracked metrics on each delivery, including a post-course survey where participants score the new employee orientation and the facilitator on a five-point scale. Success was defined by receiving a score of 4.5 or greater.

trainer writing on whiteboard

TEKsystems successfully designed, developed and delivered an interactive train-the-trainer course that included facilitation exercises, activities and best practices. To date, we have led train-the-trainer sessions in San Jose, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Krakow, Poland. We have trained over 50 facilitators who are now delivering new employee orientation worldwide.

The facilitators’ scores are meeting the client’s goals of a 4.5 score or greater on a five-point scale. In fact, 80 percent of the facilitators trained by TEKsystems have received over a 4.75 on their first delivery. To accommodate new employee orientation facilitators who did not meet the minimum score on their first attempt, we developed a coaching program to partner them with a senior facilitator to master the material and reviews lessons learned. We also incorporated this coaching into subsequent train-the-trainer sessions to ensure facilitators get the right support, coaching and feedback they need to achieve qualifying scores.

The program has received company-wide recognition, including high praise from leadership. As a result, new employee orientation is now mandatory to ensure all new employee receive a high-caliber, consistent and welcoming onboarding experience. In addition to leading the facilitator training, we implemented major updates to the material content.

Because of our successful partnership on facilitation training, the client has asked TEKsystems to revise the virtual new employee orientation training.

Leadership buy-in. 

Senior leadership recognized the value of the program and made the program mandatory for all new hires. They have also encouraged volunteer participation for facilitators, which has led to a waiting list of volunteers who want to become new employee orientation facilitators.

Long-term partnership. 

Our engagement on this project grew from designing and facilitating a single train-the-trainer workshop, to delivering train-the-trainer classes across the globe. The client has spoken highly of the value we have added to the overall program.

Respect and appreciation. 

New employee orientation trainers are volunteers, so it was important to our client that we transfer knowledge about how to lead new employee orientation, while being supportive of the volunteer’s individual ideas, experiences and style. It was a delicate balance of acknowledging their talents and contributions while providing guidance and coaching on how to improve their facilitation skills. We also wanted each facilitator to be empowered to bring their own flavor and personality to their delivery of the program, while remaining within the content parameters of the program.

About TEKsystems®

People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy over 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals—while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.

1 (TEKsystems, June 2015)

2 (CareerBuilder, December 2012)