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Sylvan standardizing training & creating community across 750+ locations
Sylvan Learning created community across franchises, increased effectiveness of training, boosted customer conversion rates, standardized training, saved resources.
Since 1979, Sylvan Learning has been changing the lives of children by delivering personalized learning and tutoring. As a global franchise organization, Sylvan helps hundreds of thousands of children build critical skills and confidence. Yet a geographically dispersed franchise business model also made it difficult to standardize staff training and certification, as well as create a sense of community, across 750+ locations.
“We wanted to provide a consistent learning experience,” said Sherri Vaughn, director, Sylvan University. “Everyone was doing something a little different, through no fault of their own. Our LMS was very basic and cumbersome. Many directors didn’t want much to do with it.”
Creating connection between centers was also a priority. “Our directors felt alone in our centers,” said Matthew Honaker, Senior Customer Experience Manager. “We wanted to give them a stronger sense of community.”
Sylvan began the search for a new learning management system (LMS), one that would enable the company to deliver collaborative, interactive, community-based learning across all franchises. Vaughn’s previous experience led the company to take a closer look at Cornerstone. “I knew it was a good product. Cornerstone could do what we wanted it to do.”
Sylvan implemented Cornerstone Learning, Cornerstone Connect and Cornerstone Extended Enterprise to host “Sylvan University Now (SUN).” The solutions work in tandem to accommodate the unique training needs of Sylvan’s franchise structure, from enabling directors to assign training directly to creating learning cohorts, small collaborative learning groups that drive engagement and interaction.
Since rollout, Sylvan Franchisees, Directors and Teachers have completed over 28,000 certifications. In January 2016 a blended learning sales certification was introduced. Over 500 people from 394 franchise centers have completed training, and response to Cornerstone and the collaborative learning opportunities has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everyone enjoys the different aspects of the curriculum and the blended learning,” said Erica Ford, LMS/WebEx specialist. “At our annual conference, franchisees and directors told us how much happier they were with Cornerstone. They love how they can just log in and find what they need.”
Created community across 750+ locations. With Cornerstone, franchises are connected via learning communities, discussion boards and other tools. “When you’re a global franchise organization, it’s nice to get people from different areas talking,” said Matthew Honaker. “For our directors especially, Cornerstone has made a difference. They appreciate being able to reach out to their peers.”
Added Ford, “People used to feel isolated. Now we’ve created a sense of togetherness. That’s been one of the greatest benefits of Cornerstone.”
Increased the effectiveness of training. Delivering training with Cornerstone Connect and Extended Enterprise via cohorts has increased the efficacy of training. “Participants have told us that stretching a course over weeks, instead of spending 48 hours in a classroom, is far more beneficial,” said Honaker. “With Cornerstone, we can reach them twice a week, give them information and then let them practice those new skills. They can discuss their experience the following week.”
Increased customer conversion rates. With the launch of the Sales Certification, Sylvan has seen an uptick in customer conversions and has increased revenue to support continued initiatives. “Our conversion rates have increased because of this training,” said Vaughn. “We’re seeing significant increases for centers who have taken the training versus those who haven’t.”
Saved time and money. When a three-day, onsite sales workshop failed to meet approval for budgetary reasons, the team delivered the entire workshop via Cornerstone instead. “We realized we could create a cohort in Cornerstone and deliver training, discussion opportunities and a virtual classroom experience,” said Vaughn.
Standardized training. Sylvan’s previous LMS couldn’t sufficiently facilitate the standardization of training across franchises. “Directors used to have to assign 20 different courses. If an employee missed one or two, they weren’t having the same experience,” said Vaughn. “With Cornerstone, everyone is getting the same certification training and learning opportunities.”
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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development
There’s a lot of coordination that goes into a company’s learning and development programming, from identifying skills gaps and creating engaging content to scaling initiatives company-wide. And because there’s so much complex planning involved, organizations can sometimes get caught up in the details, and overlook how L&D fits into broader organizational goals. A recent survey—titled "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change"—from Cornerstone People Research Lab (CPRL) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) found that only 55% of organizations believe their L&D programs are well-aligned with their company’s overarching strategy. But CPRL and HCI’s survey reveals two logical ways to overcome this challenge. First, there’s a need for L&D executives to participate in strategic conversations around organizational goals to ensure that L&D planning aligns with broader business plans. And second, it’s important to share responsibility for learning effectiveness. If facilitating continuous learning is a part of everyone’s role, it becomes easier to integrate it organization-wide. Promote Cross-Departmental Collaboration and Responsibility To better align L&D efforts with overarching business goals, learning executives have to participate in strategic conversations about organizational direction. For instance, when business leaders gather to discuss goals and KPIs for the coming year or quarter, HR and L&D leaders should be involved in those conversations. And the opposite is also true: Business leaders need to help direct the learning outcomes framed against those goals. According to the "Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey from CPRL and HCI, only about half (51%) of learning leaders report being involved in these discussions. During these business planning discussions, it’s important to establish accountability, especially among people managers. CPRL and HCI found 67% of people managers report being involved in the creation of content, but only 47% are involved in the accountability for the results. By holding more people accountable to the success of L&D programs, it can be easier for a company to spot pitfalls or opportunities for improvement. It creates shared goals for measuring effectiveness, and establishes a process for making changes. For example, by getting people managers involved in L&D initiatives, L&D leaders can work with them to get a better understanding of a specific team’s skill gaps or what reskilling or new skilling solutions will work best for them. All leaders in an organization, in fact, should be eager to participate and own their team’s newskilling, reskilling or upskilling efforts. Ask a people manager in the IT department to reiterate the importance of learning to their team, and track the amount of time their employees spend on learning content. This approach will not only create a shared commitment to continuous learning, but can also help leaders outside of L&D and HR get a better idea of what content or formats work best for their teams and recommend adjustments accordingly. Continuous Learning Is Everyone’s Responsibility Aligning overarching business plans and strategy with learning and development efforts can improve each’s efficacy. The more cross-departmental collaboration that exists, the more information that HR and L&D leaders have about their workforce and its needs, strengths and weaknesses. And with more accountability, all stakeholders in an organization can become more involved in ensuring the successful partnership between L&D and a company’s overall strategy. To learn more about the findings from Cornerstone’s "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey and its recommendations for using cross-departmental collaboration and accountability to help with L&D efforts, click here to download and read the full report.
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Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today
When we think of diversity in the workforce, we typically think of it along the lines of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. But focusing only on those four is its own sort of constraint. To truly create a successful and diverse workplace, you need to ensure you're also embracing neurodiversity too. Understanding neurodiversity In the late 1990s, a single mother in Australia named Judy Singer began studying Disability Studies at University of Technology Sydney. Her daughter had recently been diagnosed with what was then known as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” a form of autism spectrum disorder. As she read more and more about autism as part of her studies, Singer also suspected that her mother, and she herself, may have had some form of autism spectrum disorder. Singer describes crying as she realized that her mother, with whom she'd had a tumultuous relationship throughout her childhood, wasn’t purposefully cold or neurotic as she had thought. She just had a different kind of mind. In her honors thesis, Singer coined the term “neurodiversity.” For Singer, people with neurological differences like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or dyslexia were a social class of their own and should be treated as such. If we are going to embrace diversity of race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc., then we must embrace a diversity of the mind. The following video is an excerpt from the "Neurodiversity" Grovo program, which is available in the Cornerstone Content Anytime Professional Skills subscription. Neurodiversity in today's workplace Recently, neurodiversity has become a trendy term in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging spaces. And many organizations are working to hire more neurodivergent people, as well as give them opportunities to thrive at work. That’s why, at Cornerstone, we recently produced a series of lessons on neurodiversity. If your organization hasn’t prioritized neurodiverse inclusion yet, here are some reasons why it both supports your people and organization. 1) Neurodivergent people are underemployed Neurodivergent people, especially people with autism, are widely under-employed, regardless of their competence. In the United States, 85% of college graduates with autism are unemployed. According to a 2006 study, individuals with ADHD have higher rates of unemployment than individuals without. However, there is no evidence that neurodivergent people are less competent or less intelligent than neurotypical people. Organizations are missing out on talented people. 2) Neurodivergent people are more common than you may think Neurodiversity manifests in many different ways. It can encompass autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette syndrome, and many other conditions. And as scientists have learned more about what makes someone neurodivergent, they're identifying more and more people. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 160 children have some form of autism spectrum disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in every 162 children have Tourette Syndrome, and roughly 8 percent of children under 18 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And that's just children. How many adults, like Judy Singer's mother, have struggled their whole lives without a diagnosis? People who are neurodivergent are everywhere. Diverse organizations are stronger Diverse organizations and teams not only have better financial returns than less-diverse ones, but they also perform better. Having the different perspectives presented by people who are neurodivergent can help your team solve more difficult problems. Different perspectives and different ways of thinking lead to creativity and innovation.
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Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated
Many organizations face a leadership gap and cannot find the talent needed to grow. We could blame the retiring baby boomer phenomenon, the free agent nation, or the lack of investment made in developing leaders. But since blame is a lazy man’s wage, I will not entertain that debate because there are too many options out there for developing leaders. There are many leadership development programs in the market. In minutes, with a simple Internet search or over coffee with your head of human resources, you can discover myriad high-quality leadership development programs that you could use in your organization to develop leaders. The problem is not finding a good program, but in choosing one. Answer the Right Questions So how does one choose? The problem we face in evaluating leadership development programs is that we get caught up in evaluating the content rather than asking a simple question, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Each organization is unique in how it answers this question. And that is where the secret lies. If an organization can select a program that matches the answer to the question above, the selected program will likely be the right one. After all, each leadership development program is very good in some way. It is not so important which one you select. It is important that you use the one you select. In other words, the key is to not let it become another un-opened binder on the bookshelves of your management team. Be An Effective Leader Let me give you an example: If an organization’s answer to the question above is, "We want our leaders to be proactive and focused on the things that drive results," your choices are narrowed down to only a few programs that would deliver on that answer. And if I had to pick one program that would deliver on that answer, without hesitation, I would choose, "The Effective Executive" by Peter F. Drucker. It is a classic, and all five of the behaviors of effective executives taught in the book remain vital skills that any leader should practice if he or she wants to be effective in his or her organization. In the book, Drucker teaches that effective executives: Know where their time goes Focus on contribution and results Build on strengths Concentrate on first things first Make effective decisions This is not a book review or a plug for "The Effective Executive," though I do believe if you had to choose one set of skills to teach your leadership, it would be the five from Drucker’s book. This is a challenge for every organization to simplify the selection of leadership development programs, and ask, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Answering this question clearly will help you choose the right program. After all, many programs are excellent. The secret to success is not in which program you choose, but that you get people to apply the program you choose. Photo: Can Stock