John Lewis & Partners wanted in-store customers to have the same choice and convenience as online shoppers.
So they decided to give a digital handheld device to shop floor Partners. If a customer couldn’t find the right size or colour, the Partner could check stock in another shop or order it online for them.
But there were major hurdles to rolling out this kind of technology. What’s the best way to train thousands of staff members who have different technical abilities?
John Lewis & Partners managed to tackle this challenge resulting in a 15% increase in online sales processed in-store, worth £1.5mil, and improved Partner satisfaction.
Here’s how they did it in five steps according to Learning Solutions Designer, Rachel Hanson.
1. Listen to staff
Hanson’s team conducted a Learning Needs Analysis.
They found that staff (which John Lewis calls ‘Partners’) wanted bite-sized, flexible learning.
So Hanson’s team developed self-paced learning that could be accessed whenever it was convenient.
And those who were less confident were given trained Digital Guides to mentor them.
2. Offer peer support
The L&D team chose Digital Guides based on willingness to learn, not baseline ability.
One example is Sarah. She was initially anxious about the technology, which made her the perfect candidate.
It meant that other apprehensive learners could relate to her.
Sarah said, "You need whizz kids to be Digital Guides, but you also need steady donkeys like me."
3. Get key people involved
L&D knew the programme would only work if key stakeholders were involved from the beginning.
A multi-team approach helped to create a holistic solution that put both Partner and customer at the heart of the programme – while aligning to John Lewis’s strategy.
The project team felt comfortable challenging ideas, which meant they came up with a solution that worked.
4. Treat people as individuals
Training 14,000 people is a huge task – especially when you need to factor in different skills, attitudes, and geographical needs.
So the L&D team made the training as tailored as possible, while still ensuring that it was consistent.
5. Track results
It’s typical to wait until a programme finishes to evaluate its success.
Instead, the L&D team used insights to make changes in real time.
The powerful combination of analytics data and feedback from Partners helped them make the right adjustments as the programme was in flight – ultimately creating a more successful outcome.
Improving staff satisfaction
The annual staff survey shows that those using the devices are happier and feel more productive.
That means that the programme helped Partners gain greater digital skills, serve customers better, and deliver increased profit to the company.
Most importantly, Hanson said that it has completely changed the way Partners think about training.
“It shifted their perspective on learning as classroom-based and centrally-driven to one where they have ownership of their learning,” she said.
Does your organisation have a great success story about training and development? Get recognised like John Lewis & Partners in the 2019 Princess Royal Training Awards delivered by the City & Guilds Group. Entries open until 29 March 2019. Find out more: www.princessroyaltrainingawards.com