Level 3’s Baseline Training

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The Result Is Engaged Employees

Can all of your employees rattle off your company’s elevator speech? Can they clearly explain what they do for a living to their son or daughter’s grade school class?

For global telecommunications provider Level 3 Communications, the answer a few years ago was maybe not. Recognizing an opportunity, Level 3 seized the chance to transform its workforce into promoters of the company through the implementation of a baseline training program.

Level3_Fig1_022016Today, more than 800 of its new employees around the globe have undergone Baseline Training, creating an army of advocates that understand the company, its value proposition, how it serves customers, and are equipped with the tools to explain their work.

The Problem
Some years ago, I was in a meeting with a few folks from procurement asking for help with purchasing software tools to develop training for simulating proprietary software used by our network engineers. As the meeting progressed, I got a feeling the team didn’t understand why we needed to train these engineers, nor did they understand what the company did with its network. I started wondering how this lack of information affected their ability to perform their jobs.

My team started asking more questions. We soon discovered the company, at one time, held a class called Network Fundamentals that reviewed telecom 101, but also covered the company’s products, vision, and pioneering technology. The training had been deemed out-of-date and far too time-consuming to maintain.

Level3_Fig2_022016The Solution
This discovery started the ball rolling and resulted in the initial design of a basic curriculum for the Network Operations Center (NOC) personnel. While the initial design covered broad company information to benefit NOC employees, the solution didn’t fit the overall goal of providing a company and telecom overview to the entire company at a reasonable training length.

Our next step was to revise the training with an eye toward developing materials in line with cross-departmental goals, objectives and the overall needs of the organization in mind. Baseline Training was born!

Level3_Fig4_022016Over the next few months, many folks contributed to content development efforts. Along the way we decided delivering it virtually would accommodate Level 3’s global audience and allow for flexibility since each day’s content didn’t depend on lessons from the previous day. This delivery method allowed employees to attend each virtual session over a time frame that worked for their schedules.

Trainer Tom Shallenberger became the Baseline Training Czar, owning the program and serving as the sole trainer. For the next 30 months, in 2-hour segments across 5 days, Tom taught more than 800 employees the fundamentals of our business and how they could tell our story. His training plan includes:

Day 1
• Roles, responsibilities, and purpose of the training program.
• Brief description and introduction to Level 3’s Learning Management System.
• Overview of the Level 3 network, introducing terminology used at Level 3, providing the knowledge necessary to describe the network and base technologies supported.

Day 2
• Introduction to telecom acronyms and reference material locations.
• Presentations from peer leads or designated training leaders, from around the business.

Day 3
• Overview of quote-to-cash-order process including the departments, systems, and processes an order touches as a quote becomes a service.
• Overview of Level 3’s products and solutions.

Day 4
• Overview of the Customer Portal, a one-stop-shop for current customers, including log on and utilization of the portal, and introduction to the team that handles all crisis situations.
• Emphasize Level 3’s customer-first mentality.

Day 5
• Deeper dive into the software tools used by different departments during the quote-to-cash process all orders go through.

Trainer Tom Shallenberger is Level 3 Communications’ Baseline Training Czar.

Trainer Tom Shallenberger is Level 3 Communications’ Baseline Training Czar.

Tom has a few nuggets of insight from those many sessions:
• Do introductions in the class, even when the attendee numbers are large. It helps employees, especially new ones, start to build an internal people network.
• Start each daily session with questions. It teaches participants how to find the information they’re seeking. Teaches them to fish.
• When a vice president, director, or manager joins the class, it’s a sure bet their teams are in the next class. The leader always shares how valuable the training was with their teams.
• Attendee comments are useful, and always indicate this class was worth the time investment.

Employee survey results reveal that over the past 3 years, Level 3 has increased employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention rates.

Engaged employees are safer, happier, and more productive. Baseline Training isn’t taking all of the credit for these improvements but it is doing its part.

A wise person once said, “If you think education is expensive, consider the cost of ignorance.” Educating employees gives them the tools to be your biggest advocates.

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About Author

Jack Goad is the Senior Director of Global Learning and Technology at global telecommunications provider Level 3 Communications. He has more than 30 years of experience in training design, development, and delivery. For more information, please email customercare@level3.com or visit level3.com.

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