Benchmark was just honored with “Best Employee Training” at the 2017 Lenny Awards from Litmos.

We are thrilled as can be for this recognition.

Our training team works tirelessly to ensure that everyone here at Benchmark is prepared to offer top notch customer support. They also write and maintain our FAQs, which are a valuable resource to all marketers using Benchmark.

Congratulations go to our Training Manager, Irene Martinez, as well as Yamile Flores and Sandeep Kumar.

What those three accomplish is no small feat. Irene runs the show from our headquarters in the U.S. Yamile works from Mexico and Sandeep is on hand to work with our support team in India.

I want to share our journey that led to this point. Our training department wasn’t always what it is today. So, I’ll share the write-up Irene sent to Litmos to be considered for this award. There were over 100 nominees.

There is also a bit of a Q&A with our training department, there to help you learn how to improve your employee training. We also got some feedback from Litmos on great employee training.

A Story of Zero to Hero

Here’s what Irene wrote:

Benchmark Email was founded in 2004, and since then all procedures and how to’s were taught by providing a few manuals or by trial and error. It wasn’t until 2016, 12 years later, that we finally implemented a Training Program. We also created the Knowledge Base for all things our employees would ever need.

I’m not sure how our company had succeeded up until that point, with no actual training process, but it did! When I first came to Benchmark, I spent 30 days using our platform and experimenting. Those 30 days and manuals did help. However, I also spent a lot of time interrogating my supervisors and colleagues. As much as they were always willing to help, we knew this was taking time from both them and me.

When Litmos was first introduced to us, it was something out of this world! You mean to tell me no more group messages? And no more quick 5 minute talks to explain the new processes?!

I have to admit I was relieved. The training was easy to understand, and the best thing is the information never disappeared. We can go back and review if needed.  Best thing yet, we finally had a training department.

Not only has Litmos given us the platform to train and educate our employees, but it has also given us that level of accountability we never had.

Did I mention we are a worldwide company with over 140 employees spread across the globe?! Now all 15 countries can take the same training, and we can communicate the same goal.

We now have 117 training courses, ranging from sales to Understanding DKIM. Thank you, Litmos, for giving us the accountability our employees needed.

In Their Own Words

Andy Shore: What was your biggest challenge when you joined the Training Team?

Irene Martinez: My biggest challenge joining the training team was, and is, knowing that the training for all support and sales is mostly in my hands. But, who doesn’t like a little challenge?!

Let’s not forget this department was still relatively new, which meant the opportunities were endless.

Sandeep Kumar: When I joined the Training Team, I witnessed two major hurdles in the form of resistance to change and engaging the team.

Previously, training was a one-way process where employees were updated through online platforms (Litmos and FAQs), which I thought must be changed to a two-way road. Initiating live training sessions gave the teams a platform to discuss weekly issues and to find best possible solutions for the queries.

I also noticed a gap between the multiple teams, who should be working hand-in-hand.

Yamile Flores: Trying to make courses, that were not just reading, that adding more movement, colors, imagery and learning techniques.

AS: What excited you about contributing to this team?

IM: When I first joined Benchmark, I joined as a sales and support rep. This allowed me to learn the product and be able to sell it.

However, as time progressed, I found myself helping my colleagues and giving them solutions our clients can use.

So, when I was promoted to be the Training Manager, this meant I could do what I love most … which is lending a hand. Knowing the work I do makes our clients lives a tad bit easier is more than enough to be excited about.

SK: When one believes in and understands the potential of a product, it’s easy to convince others of the same. Right from the beginning when I joined Benchmark, I was confident in the platform we provide.

There were are many possibilities for employees to explore when supporting or pitching one of the best platform available in the industry.

I started with a keen observation of the tiny details and how to achieve them. Now, being on the training team, I’m happy to teach them to our teams.

YF: I love the design, and strangely, I always have kept in touch with the learning experience. I like being a teacher, and am always trying to teach, so this is easy for me. I like when someone learns something I was involved with.

AS: What was an unexpected challenge that presented itself along the way?

IM: I’ve had many unexpected challenges along the way, but not one specific moment I can recall.

One daily challenge I face when creating content is making sure it will fit for all regions and be understood correctly.

Another is answering questions in the content before they can be asked by our employees or customers.

As time goes on, I’ve learned what kind of things to include and what to leave out. Sometimes too much information can be confusing.

SK: With so much continuously changing in the industry, keeping deadlines was, and is, tough. Now and then, the training team faces a moment of decision on prioritizing what needs to be done first. With FAQs, a knowledge base, blog posts, Litmos courses and live training sessions, there is a very small window to accommodate more. However, working with such an amazing team allowed me to overcome all the hurdles.

YF: The Litmos platform was a new thing for me, and of course, I don’t know how to code. In the beginning, Litmos didn’t allow me to put into practice a bunch of ideas I had because as a designer I can think of a universe with no limits. However, sometimes a platform does has limits. ? I still don’t know how to code well, but I can center an image (with code) adding a video (with code), or change colors (with code too)! ?

In my latest courses, I said goodbye to that way of making courses. I started with a new design in a Google presentation, made it a PDF and then brought it to Litmos. Yes, it took more time, but I think it looks better.

AS: How have you worked towards continuous improvement?

IM: We are always looking for new ways to perform better. We ask our team on a regular basis if there is something we can do differently. We have surveyed our learners many times trying to find how we can improve. Also, attending Litmos C3 was one way of continuous improvement. I think I came home with improvements for the next year!

SK: Initially, I started with restructuring the content we already had available and categorized it under various sections. This helped to understand where to start for the continuous learning environment.

Next, was making sure everyone knows about the unique selling points of our product. This could be done by giving a human touch to the training modules that already existed.

Keeping the training sessions short enough, while still providing a wealth of information, combined with giving company-wide updates in Slack created an environment for learning. A knowledge base is handy for when our training team to keep note of all the updates. With updates posted on Slack, a routine was initiated that helped employee orientation and urged them to learn more about our product.

YF: As I said before, I’ve been learning a little little bit about coding, done research about constructive learning techniques and applying them and am improving the design all the time.

AS: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since joining the Training Team?

IM: My biggest lesson learned to date is that it’s okay to ask for help. There was a time where I felt ashamed about asking for help. Why would a training manager ask for help? Shouldn’t they have the answers to everything? Well, NO! We don’t, and we also must ask questions. Even if it means questioning your CEO. Now, how you approach that situation is totally on you. ?

SK: It is always good to ask questions. This is the one thing I learned being in training team. With queries comes solutions and with solution comes the confidence to convince our clients that our tools are the solution for them. A convincing resolution allows us to build trust, which makes for the foundation of a long-lasting bond.

YF: I’ve learned how to work in a team and not to let down the people who have given me their trust, like Irene. She always is trusting in me, so I want to make her feel proud.

AS: What advice would you offer to someone looking to improve their company’s employee training?

IM: My main advice to anyone looking to improve their employee training would be to start by asking what they need help with. Yes, I know there is much you want to teach, but you need to find out where they are having issues and start there. If you alone cannot do it, then be humble and ask for help. The trainers need training too.

SK: I would suggest improving communication in the company, and in turn, with the clients to which they’re providing service. I strongly believe in user feedback. This feedback allows a continuous development of the product regarding user experience and market value. Small and precise training modules are always better compared to a huge chunk of information.

YF: We’re not perfect yet, but we are trying to do the best we can. My advice is to always ask your team if what you are doing is working for them.

We Also Asked Litmos to Weigh In

Andy Shore: What are the characteristics or qualities of a Top Employee Training program?

Litmos: A Top Employee Training program provides deep employee engagement, gamification, blended learning, is easily accessible, and intuitive to use.  Top organizations make learning at the center of their company’s mission and culture; with widespread adoption across all departments.

AS: What are the biggest challenges for businesses today with employee training?

L: A big challenge employee training departments face is to keep learners engaged, proactively providing relevant and updated content,  and keeping up on trends and best practices. With the modern workforce ever-changing, it is imperative to deliver suitable content for all audiences.

AS: What pain points does Litmos solve for a business?

L: Litmos provides an engaging platform that users want to use. Litmos Learning Management System provides the solution to allow the company to build a learning culture.

AS: What are common mistakes you see a business make with their employee training programs?

L: A lot of organizations measure the wrong outcomes and focus on the number of courses and completions across the organization instead of driving engagement and tying that to learning outcomes and ROI. A big mistake organizations also make is searching for a platform that has the most features and functionality, instead of a platform that will fit their need.

AS: What advice would you offer a business looking to improve its employee training?

L: Initially, I would recommend an organization that is looking to improve employee training to take a step back, and understand the learning outcomes they want to achieve. Once the outcomes and objectives have been identified, then map this to the learning system.

Share Your Insights

What do you do for employee training that has worked for your business?

Have you learned any lessons the hard way?

Share with us in the comments!

Thank Yous

Special thanks go out to our Director of Design, TJ Taylor, for his wonderful photo of Irene Martinez and Bryndon Díaz for gracing the photograph with his incredible artwork.

Of course, from all of us here at Benchmark, thank you, Irene, Yamile and Sandeep for everything you do. We’re not sure how we ever got by without you … and never want to again.

Thanks to Dennis Le for starting the training department and laying the groundwork for us to build upon.