I originally wrote this for training seasonal employees but I also believe it applies to any nonprofit attempting to on-board a new board member, volunteer or staff. I would now use a digital flash system but the purpose and approach is the same. First it is important to know for a fact that those who say they understand governance also believe they fully comprehend quantum physics. They may really know their stuff but it is better to test first and rather than regret later.
One of the most rewarding roles I have played during my career was to develop the new Team Member “Service Camp” for the Coeur d’Alene Resort when it was named the number one travel product in North America by Condé Nast magazine.
Designed to be an experience instead of a training, Service Camp revolved around a set of new Team Member flash cards included in their hiring packet. One of the challenges of getting any seasonally-adjusted business up to speed is training.
How do you get everyone from new rookies to seasoned vets all on the same page? Instead of the typical employee handbook that most barely read and even less remember, try creating flash cards. I used this trick to survive Human Anatomy class at WSU. These are easy to create and update using micro-perforated card stock from any office supply store and a merge template to add the content. I like using business card sizes. Add a nice business card-size holder to encourage Team Members to keep them on hand. Contact a trade show or promotional supply company like Marco for the card holder. One year I used a box originally designed as a small first aid kit. This had the bonus advantage of being waterproof and turned out to be a great conversation starter with Guests.
The cards can include everything from products, services and schedules, to surprising facts about the community, history, environment and safety. Sources for good card content might include asking department heads or veterans what they wish other Team Members knew. Review the FAQ’s from your website or email communications and don’t forget to include your most frequently complained about features. The best time to handle a problem is before it occurs. If you can’t fix the problem (i.e. weather), you can at least develop the best response possible.
What are the biggest misconceptions about your products, services, industry or area? i.e. What is the Number One crop in the state of Idaho? See the end of this article for the answer.
This wide range of information not only helps break down inter-team barriers, but gives Team Members the tools to interact with your Guests/Customers in meaning-full and memorable ways. More importantly, the immediate and self-testing feedback (remember how you used to make a pile of cards for the answers you knew and those you didn’t) helps make new Team Members experts at information that it would have previously taken “experience” to attain. Best of all you will rediscover the power of play.
You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. Plato
By creating a playful learning atmosphere, you will be reminded of the importance of taking yourselves lightly and your jobs seriously. Remember the way you treat your Team Members will determine the way they treat your Guests/Customers.
Eleven Bonus benefits:
1. Cards are easy to update. By printing a whole page of one card you can add new information or replace outdated content.
2. Create a set of branded cards your Guests can use while they are with you, and better yet take home to share with their friends.
3. Contact your previous Guests for their contributions of ideas and experiences to add to the cards. They will often be happy to help, may be more likely to return.
4. Send the cards to potential Guests or those scheduled for arrival.
5. Provide bank cards and create a contest for teams to develop new cards.
6. Watch how new Team Members play the game. This is a hiring secret I learned from Rick Powers. Rick would observe how new Team Members or interviewees interacted with each other not to see how well they did individually, but how they treated other members of their team. If they were in it for themselves he would help them move on to a career more supportive of individual effort.
7. Include cards with employee benefits to be shared with family members.
8. Create incentives for Team Members caught carrying their cards.
9. Use a “pick a card” strategy for starting meaning-full meeting conversations.
10. Offer the “Guest/Customer version” of cards for sale or as a welcome gift.
11. Create a visual age-specific version to keep youngster engaged when adults are at play. (They sure beat crayons)
The more prepared your Team Members are the better they feel about themselves.
How we treat others is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves.
It is often difficult to trace ROI back to a single process or idea. Great companies often do many things well, but this idea expresses many of the values you will find at The Container Store. Opened in 1978 as a place to sell “weird, funky and multifunctional products”, The Container Store has ranked in Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” list for 11 years in a row.
Among their secrets to success: They include 260 hours of new Team Member training (compared to 12 for the average retailer) and that is after as many as nine interviews. If you are one of the lucky 3% to be hired, you will average $46,000 as a salesperson and everyone including part-time employees receives health benefits.
“We even put the employee before the Customer” If you take care of your employee better than anybody else, they’ll take care of the Customer better than anybody else.” Kip Tindell, CEO
This is part of their “Employees First” ideology shared by India’s “number one employer” HCL technologies, and Zappos which, despite an average entry pay scale, receives more than 1,000 applications for every opening. During the first year I instituted this program with the Coeur d’Alene Resort we reduced turnover in the housekeeping department by 50%. Giving Team Members the tools to interact with Guests not only improved the Guest experience, but enhanced the Team Member job satisfaction as well.
Would you like to include ideas like these wrapped up in package of laughter and learning? Add Randy to your agenda for top of the scale ratings GUARANTEED.
What is the #1 agricultural product in the state of Idaho?