“I just don’t understand it,” said Pierre. “No one here seems to follow instructions, and no matter how many times I’ve told them how to do things they seem to do them their own way.” Jennifer believes that because LearnInMotion.com has no formal orientation or training policies or procedures, employees generally ignore the standards that she and Pierre would like them to adhere to.
For example, one of the jobs of the Web designer (her name is Maureen) is to take customers’ copy for banner ads and adapt it for placement on LearnInMotion.com. She has been told several times not to tinker in any way with a customer’s logo: Most companies put considerable thought and resources into logo design, and, as Pierre has said, “whether or not Maureen thinks the logo is perfect, it’s the customer’s logo, and she’s to leave it as it is.” Yet just a week ago, they almost lost a big customer when Maureen, to “clarify” the customer’s logo, modified its design before posting it on LearnInMotion.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. As far as Jennifer and Pierre are concerned, it is the sales effort that is completely out of control. For one thing, even after several months on the job, it still seems as if the salespeople don’t know what they’re talking about. For example, LearnInMotion has several co-brand arrangements with Web sites like Yahoo! This means if they are interested in ordering educational courses or CDs, other sites’ users can easily click through to LearnInMotion. Jennifer has noticed that during conversations with customers, the two salespeople often have no idea of which sites co-brand with LearnInMotion, or how to get to the LearnInMotion site from the partner Web site. The salespeople also need to know a lot more about the products themselves. For example, one salesperson was trying to sell someone who produces programs on managing call centres on the idea of listing its products under LearnInMotion’s “communications” community. In fact, the “communications” community is for courses on topics like interpersonal communications and how to be a better listener; it has nothing to do with managing the sorts of call centers that, for instance, airlines use for handling customer inquiries. As another example, the Web surfer is supposed to get a specific e-mail address with a specific person’s name for the salespeople to use; instead he often just comes back with an “information” e-mail address off a Web site.
The list goes on and on. Jennifer feels the company has had other problems because of the lack of adequate employee training and orientation. For example, when a salesperson left after barely a month on the job, there was considerable debate about whether the person should receive severance pay and accumulated vacation pay. Jennifer feels that other matters that should be covered during an orientation include: company policy regarding lateness and absences; health and hospitalization benefits (there are none, other than workers’ compensation); and matters like maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, personal appearance and cleanliness, personal telephone calls and e-mail, substance abuse, and eating or smoking on the job.
Jennifer believes that implementing orientation and training programs would help ensure that employees know how to do their jobs. She and Pierre further believe that it is only when employees understand the right way to do their jobs that there is any hope those jobs will in fact be carried out in the way the owners want them to be. Now, they want you, their management consultants, to help them. Here’s what they want you to do for them.
Jennifer took HR and the book suggested using a task analysis record form to identify tasks performed by an employee. Should a form like this be used for the salespeople? If so, what, roughly speaking, should the completed, filled-in form look like?