All businesses that compete within a market have one goal in common: to be set apart amongst their competitors as one that consistently delivers their goods or services with increasing quality and service. It is this very thing that differentiates a business’ good or service from that of the competition. Ultimately, an organization seeks to build brand loyalty and long standing relationships with their customers. Within my personal experience working retail, I have seen the need to be able to differentiate the product we sell but also the way in which we sell it. It seems fairly obvious that the two correlate with one another but there are many businesses that lack the vision and follow through to keep these two inseparable principles together. Admittedly, I believe my company, J. Crew, falls into the category of a business that does provide good customer service but lacks the ability to really develop its people in a way that can surpass customer service as a standard and make it a part of the culture.
One of the strategic goals in our company is to increase customer service by providing a “customer-centric atmosphere”. I believe this goal can be accomplished with the right systems in place. Exceptional customer service is delivered by exceptional people. Before we can be sure that we are meeting the needs of our customers and providing quality service, we need to be able to retain, develop and invest in employees first. The programs and training that I would like to implement are employee incentives programs, which will consist of both financial and non-financial incentives, and a mentor program which in and of itself serves as a non-financial incentive in that it gives employees more responsibility while affirming their worth to the company. It also identifies key employees as leaders whose responsibility is to help develop other employees and stand in the gap where management may not be able to reach.
The mentorship program also bench trains potential future managers and helps cultivate the skills to be able to effectively and confidently manage a team. An extrapolation of this training can be illustrated in this order: Leadership training that both empowers and develops employees will further enhance employee’s attitude by upholding their worth which will lead to a higher quality and standard of customer service that ultimately will be the bridge in accomplishing the strategic objective of “creating a customer-centric atmosphere” while building brand loyalty and ensuring repeat business. This ripple effect can be applied throughout all businesses and as a future HR manager I believe it is important to be able to identify, assess and build solutions through training like this or comparable to it.
Training Needs Analysis
In conducting an organizational analysis it was found that not only are there increases in customer complaints in comparison to last year, but there is also poor employee morale in addition to a lower employee retention rate. These results were traced back to middle management where it was found that poor leadership and a lack of clear communication gave cause to these results. The purpose of this training will not only train managers in effective communication and leadership but will also provide the opportunity to develop potential leaders within the company. All managers will be held accountable in facilitating a successful implementation of this program. Leadership sustained by effective communication are the defining attributes that sets the rest of this training up for success. Missions and Strategies:
J. Crew’s corporate governance statement says that, “J. Crew strives to maintain standards that will provide our customers, associates, and shareholders with assurance that our excellence resides not only in the superior design of our merchandise, but in every aspect of our business” (J. Crew, 2014). On the organizational level J. Crew strives to “create a customer-centric atmosphere”. The purpose of this training plan is to better align our people with that objective. After conducting an analysis, it has been decided to move forward with not only a training program that develops and empowers the employees to better cultivate a customer-centric attitude but also incentives to initiate and bolster the training received. Resources and Allocation of Resources:
Capital Resources: J. Crew has decided to invest an extra one million dollars into this proposed training plan. The additional money will be
invested in payroll hours to complete all necessary training and will take place inside each home store. Human Resources: Each store will have one HR consultant for the management team who will be responsible for providing all training tools to be disseminated. The consultant and management team will work together to oversee all training processes. In addition, there will be two subordinates or “mentors” to the management team who will be developed by the managers and will actively participate in training as well as execute all other training needs. Organizational Environment
J. Crew’s goal is to create a place where work, individual growth, knowledge, skill enhancement and fun meet together in a blend to reflect the very employees it strives to create. Efficient communication is vital for the continual success of this program. Top and middle managers who can effectively and efficiently communicate with customers and staff are key to ensuring this training aligns with the company’s objectives. Operational Analysis
Several methods of analysis including employee feedback, job observation and job questionnaires were used to collect job data and identify training needs. One of the major issues that this analysis found was the lack of effective communication and follow through from managers to subordinates. This resulted in employees with underdeveloped communication and customer service skills, low morale, and therefore unmotivated to perform to the standard that J. Crew has set forth. The summary of the findings are as follows: Methods
Questionnaires were completed
Managers and associates
Large gap in communicating expectations from both managers and associates. Interviews were conducted
In researching all customer complaints within the last year, it was found in roughly 7 out of 10 complaints, customers felt neglected during their interaction with managers and/or associates. Job Observations
Managers and associates
Assessment of job satisfaction showed most managers and associates were dissatisfied with the current working environment.
Ability to support the operation of a profitable building through successful selling floor supervision and management of division of responsibility. Knowledge of customer focus: leads by example by providing quality customer service. Ability to take ownership of self- development
Skilled in training team on J. Crew standards.
Ability to sell the world of J. Crew with quality and commitment. Ability to represent a helpful, friendly customer focus at all times. Skilled in effective and professional communication which upholds J. Crew standards and guidelines at all times.
Some managers are lacking the necessary communication skills because they never received the proper training or mentoring. The gap in communication has created a lack of follow through in communication from managers to associates thus leaving associates ineffective in their ability to deliver J. Crew’s quality service standards. The success of any associate or manager will be contingent on the development of each individual from the start. To assist in the development of individuals, the mentorship program will provide support to management in communicating policies and expectations. Mentor’s will be able to bridge the gap in cultivating associate’s knowledge, skills and abilities. Performance Discrepancies
Lack of clear, concise information regarding quality and standards. Little to no follow through on development of associates.
Poor allocation of time and resources.
No feedback system in place to objectively measure performance.
Low retention rate.
Low employee morale.
Maximization of overall communication.
Measurement systems of employee progress and performance.
Daily coaching moments on standards, quality and customer service. Improved recruitment and selection strategies.
Larger focus on employee orientation.
Utilization of small group training techniques.
Better corrective action strategies.
The attitudes and motivations of the employees are an uncontrollable element in this training. However, effective follow through and communication of standards and expectations will greatly reduce the propensity for non-compliance with standards of employment.
Leadership and Customer Service Training Design
I. Method of Training:
Training will start from designated HR trainer within each store to management team who will then carry out the training to mentors and associates. Various methods of training will be utilized to maximize overall training. These methods will include monthly webinars, group presentations, small group discussions concerning the material in group presentations, role playing within small group setting, and videos for enhanced learning. II. Time Allocation
Training will occur on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two weeks. Training will be delivered to management first and will start at 7:30am and end at 9:30am. Training will then be disseminated to mentors every Monday and Wednesday from 7:30am to 9:30am for two weeks. After the initial two weeks, J. Crew will continue to do leadership and customer service webinars and send training tools the last Monday of every month for management to pass on to mentors and associates. III. Number of Trainees
During the two week training period for management, the amount of trainees will be dependent upon how many managers are in a store per training session. There will always be two trainees for every mentorship training session. IV. Mandatory Training
All training is mandatory for J. Crew employees, especially managers. Much of the management’s experience is not backed in the level of training that is necessary to be in alignment with J. Crew standards. The training is being put in place to set all employees up for success. Maximal success ultimately depends on the individual but the investment in our people is one of J. Crew’s focuses. The training being provided is also geared to help cultivate interpersonal skills that will lead to better relationships in every context. V. On or Off-Site Training
Training will take place on site at every J. Crew location inside of the store. B.) Training Objectives
This training is essential for all J. Crew employees to receive. In order to better align with company objectives this training will serve as the bridge to any gaps that are currently hindering that process. It is especially useful for managers who may possess good technical skill but lack communication and leadership skills. I. Training Reaction Objectives
After trainees have gone through the training they will know how to: Increase overall communication between management and employees. Identify “training moments” and know how to lead by example. Provide feedback to employees.
Cultivate coaching strategies.
Improve employee morale.
Know how to turn “negative” feedback into “constructive” feedback.
II. Learning Objectives
This training will provide trainees with the knowledge and tools to successful leadership and communication skills by: Identifying top talent through recruiting and selection training to build a team of the best and brightest (Managers). Communicating quality standards effectively to peers as well as associates. Understanding how to better track employee performance and create effective action plans. Demonstrating all of the training tools learned from training in daily interaction. Improving employee retention rates.
Understanding how to navigate through conflicts in the workplace with clear and concise communication. Analyzing different personality types within the team to understand how to best approach and teach individuals.
III. Transfer of Training Objectives
Once trainees have successfully completed this training program they will be able to: Manage turnover rates more efficiently
Improve overall store morale and environment
Be more aligned with J. Crew’s standard of creating a more “customer-centric” atmosphere. Effectively utilize hiring and selection tools.
Evaluate performance using feedback and evaluations.
Demonstrate leadership and communication skills that will ultimately impact the business. Be more people-focused and develop talent within the store.
Be successful and positive motivators of themselves and those around them.
IV. Organizational Objectives
The completion of the training will yield benefits to the organization in the following ways: Create brand loyalty through the delivery of J. Crew’s quality standards consistently. Increase employee retention rates thus lowering costs.
Provide bench training to mentors that will create manager-ready associates. Increase employee satisfaction.
Create a store atmosphere of quality and service that will noticeably affect our customers. Be in alignment with our organizational strategy of creating a “customer-centric” atmosphere.
Our vision and goal for this training is to fully empower our associates and deposit within them the training they need. We think the best way to accomplish this is to take a variety of methods that will bolster their learning and make it a seamless transaction from training they receive to their role in the store. Starting with the managers, all the way through the associates we want to create a team that is well rounded, knowledgeable, and empowered to make the right decision that’s best for the customer in every and any situation. Through their blended learning and training, J. Crew associates will have all the resources at their disposal to cultivate their KSA’s. Lecturettes
We will use lecturettes as the opening platform before every training session. The lecturette will consist of the training objectives for the day as well as a brief overview and summary of what the training will entail and what we hope to transfer to the associates. We will also explain what other training methods we will use that day and also use this time to give a summary of the training subject being discussed that day i.e. Customer Service: How to Engage the Customer. PowerPoint
PowerPoints will be used as a supplemental resource during the lecturette. The PowerPoints main purpose is to give a description, illustration, and visual representation of the training objectives. It will also serve to provide a summary of what training material we will be covering that day. Interactive Multimedia
Interactive multimedia will be one of the methods used to go over and train associates on situational strategies. Some of these situational strategies will include, situational leadership, in the moment and general coaching strategies, and enhancing customer service dialogue. The objective in this training is to psychologically immerse the trainee in the environment so that they will be equipped to handle any situation that may arise. Computer-Based Training
Computer-based training will provide an in depth look at the training topic being discussed. From J. Crew’s perspective, the trainee will learn what is expected and explain the importance of the training being administered. Also, CBT will include top level management’s vision and hope for the trainee to make for a more familial environment and hear from top executives why they believe in the training topic being discussed and how to it relates or the organization’s goals. Role-Play
Role-play will be used to increase retention and knowledge through interaction with other trainee’s and the trainer. All role-play will be used to put into practice what was gone over through the lecturette as well as the interactive media and computer-based training. There will be four different types of role-play used to maximize the training objectives. These four role-play types consist of spontaneous role-play, single role-play, multiple role-play, and role rotation. Spontaneous role-play will be used to give insight to attitudes and behaviors and will be used to start the role-play training. Next, single role-play will allow for one of the trainee’s to give a demonstration of what topic is being learned and addressed. Then multiple role play will be used for all trainees to interact together and play out scenarios that are in conjunction with the training objective or topic that day. Lastly, role-rotation will be used to provide a fully interactive training and provide time for questions and answers during each scenario.
All training will occur within each J. Crew store. The training will take place in the back of the store as well as the front before the store opens. The back of the store provides plenty of space for the lectures and e-training whereas the front provides enough for engaging in role plays and other demonstrations that offer real life scenarios for the associates. Doing the training on the sales floor allows the trainees to adapt to the knowledge and skills they are acquiring and makes for a seamless transition into their abilities. It also makes the environment familiar to be able to apply all of the training.
There will be one designated HR trainer per store. This trainer is responsible for the delivery of the training to all managers and mentors. Each trainer is experienced and qualified in their ability to effectively communicate and lead teams to become a team that is continuously improving. Each trainer has been certified in the company’s Training and Development Certification test and has to be renewed every year. Each trainer also has at least two years of training and development experience and have been with company for three years or more. Trainers are well rounded in their knowledge of the company, technical skills, and their ability to communicate diversely and effectively.
The following is a list of equipment that will be used to supplement and make provision for training: A “U” shaped table as well as chairs for small group discussions and for trainees to sit during lectures. PowerPoint to help supplement lectures and training content. Computers for E-based training and to provide PowerPoints.
Books, notepads, pens, and binders for all training materials. A trainer’s binder that contains all training subjects that will be covered. DVD’s that provide instructional video.
T.V. for the trainees to watch instructional videos.
Refreshments during various breaks for trainer and trainees.
The training evaluation is the final element of the training plan. Evaluations will be conducted throughout the training as well as after the training to better asses and measure the results. Trainees will not only be expected to retain all of the information administered to them but also be able to apply it. This will be accomplished through the use of questionnaires, quizzes, and performance evaluations. The training evaluation will occur across four different levels to effectively assess overall training. Each area of evaluation will also provide insight to the trainer to better assess where the training could be most effective or where emphasis is needed. Measuring Trainees Reaction:
This evaluation will be administered one to two weeks after the training which will score the training they received. Through the use of questionnaires we will ask their thoughts on the subject matter, the relevance of the training, as well as the delivery of the training from the trainee. This will also help shape feedback on where strengths and weaknesses of the training are. Measuring Trainees Learning:
An evaluation of the training will be administered after each training session. The trainees will be given a quiz over the material covered which will include true and false as well as short answer questions to better gauge measurable results. These tests will be geared towards overall retention and understanding of the material. They will also provide insight into where trainers may need to be more effective. All quizzes will be electronically based for to better track and analyze data. Measuring Trainees Transfer of Skills:
This evaluation will be a measurement of behavior and progress. This will be administered 2-3 months after the training and will gauge the transfer of training and how well the associate has been able to utilize the training that was given. The evaluation will also be administered every quarter to better track progress and ensure optimal performance. The results of these evaluations will also be measured against pre-training evaluations and training deficiencies described earlier in the training plan. Organizational Results:
Implementation and execution of training will provide the organization with the following results: Higher employee morale.
Increase employee retention rates thus lowering costs.
Provide the exceptional managers who will be well rounded in their technical and interpersonal skills. Deliver continual, ever-increasing personalized service to customers. Provide bench training to mentors that will create manager-ready associates. Better visibility in tracking performance and holding associates accountable thus increasing quantity and quality of productivity. Create brand loyalty through the delivery of J. Crew’s
quality standards consistently.
Blanchard, P. N., & Thacker, J. (2013). Effective Training: Systems, Strategies, and Practices. In P. N. Blanchard, & J. Thacker, Effective Training: Systems, Strategies, and Practices. Upper Sadle River: Prentice Hall. J. Crew. (2014). Corporate Governance . Retrieved from J. Crew Investor Relations: http://investors.jcrew.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=135311&p=irol-govhighlights&ver=jc