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Manager Advises Trainers on the Best Learning Solutions (Interview)

Michelle Marko has over 12 years of experience in the online industry and 10 years of experience in online advertising. Currently, she is the Ad Operations Manager for ImageShack Corp. Her main role is to maximize revenue and to develop, document and share ad operation processes. Prior to ImageShack, she spent 8 years at Yahoo! in Ad Operations, Training, and Finance.

Our readers can contact her on LinkedIn.

Q. What should a company do to prevent losing knowledge from employees who leave or retire? How do you convey their experiences to a new hire?

In my mind, the question isn’t “if” but “when.” An organization is wise to document as much relevant information as possible. However, that is only the beginning. The information must be kept up to date and well organized.

While at Yahoo! I faced this situation for ad operations training material. I ended up using a wiki page that permitted for a single storage location that anyone within the company could go to for information.

It was part of my job to maintain and publicize it whenever possible. I left the company knowing that employees could continue to find the information and that the knowledge wouldn’t be completely lost.

For the new hire trainer, it is a daunting task to flood a new hire with all of the experience and knowledge of a former or experienced employee. I found that by breaking things down into smaller sections or classes, providing a clear plan of what he or she should expect to know when, and creating a safe training environment where mistakes are part of the learning, new hires were able to have a smooth and successful transition in a very short time.

To be completely successful, I got manager support to have the new hire attend the two week new hire session within the first month of employment.

Q. What learning “solutions” have been especially helpful to you?

I’ve found wikis are a great and simple way to communicate, as well as track and maintain information. I am a firm believer in mentoring programs. It creates a win-win situation for everyone involved, provides a supportive environment, is a fantastic way to transfer knowledge and strengthen bonds internally, and it’s rewarding for many other personal reasons.

Formal training and workshops are critical to the long term success of a company. Expecting employees to figure things out or “just know it” is ridiculous, and sadly far too common.

For large organizations, having a clear and focused training organization that leads various types of training and workshops is a highly under rated benefit. I’ve found a learning management system can be hit or miss. For a large company, it is almost required as there are few options for collecting information on who has taken what otherwise.

However, the systems I’ve seen tend to be clunky, difficult to navigate, and were not consistently used as a result. Self included, I found it much easier to have employees sign-up for a training session via email or a meeting request than through the LMS.

Q. What advice would you give trainers of the present and future?

I think trainers need to embrace the change wholeheartedly. Understanding how blended learning fits with technology will be key to continuing to provide successful training in the future.

You can’t be afraid of the technology; understand that the traditional methods of students being talked at in a room have evolved. You either evolve with it, or cease to provide added value to the organization.

I always keep in mind that training is a customer service focused job, if the customer is online and using various technical methods to do their job, then I need to be doing that as well.

Q. Are there any resources you would recommend to our readers?

These are a few websites I’ve found helpful over the years:

As for books, I found this to be a wonderful customer service focused read and it has been very beneficial beyond the realm of training.

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