Staff Training Systems

  • 15 July 2022
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  • Sr. Karbon Community Guide
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@Rebecca Williams, here’s what I’ve been thinking about as far as building a training and development platform for my staff. I would love to get your (and everyone else’s) feedback and suggestions.

Goal

Create a self-sustaining system of training that brings entry-level staff from no knowledge to baseline proficiency in all aspects of the firm within one year.

Rough Draft

I believe in the value of deep (focused) learning and have also read and experienced the benefit of scattered or randomized training. Deep learning develops specific skills while scattered learning helps with synthesis and understanding the impact on complex system in which one skill resides.

We want to design 40-hour training weeks (deep learning) and 8-hour training days (random learning) to teach one of each of the eleven specific skills we utilize in our firm. After their first year, they will start specializing in areas of interest and/or in the areas needed in the firm.

The first 52 weeks would looks something like this:

Week Training Schedule
1 100% Onboarding/Culture
2 100% Bookkeeping training
3 100% Bookkeeping training
4 20% Random Training | 80% Production
5 20% Random Training | 80% Production
6 20% Random Training | 80% Production
7 100% Sales tax training
8 20% Random Training | 80% Production
9 20% Random Training | 80% Production
10 20% Random Training | 80% Production
11 20% Random Training | 80% Production
12 100% Payroll tax training
13 20% Random Training | 80% Production
14 20% Random Training | 80% Production
15 20% Random Training | 80% Production
16 20% Random Training | 80% Production
17 100% Misc. compliance training
18 20% Random Training | 80% Production
19 20% Random Training | 80% Production
20 20% Random Training | 80% Production
21 20% Random Training | 80% Production
22 100% Individual income tax training
23 20% Random Training | 80% Production
24 20% Random Training | 80% Production
25 20% Random Training | 80% Production
26 20% Random Training | 80% Production
27 100% Adjusting journal entries training
28 20% Random Training | 80% Production
29 20% Random Training | 80% Production
30 20% Random Training | 80% Production
31 20% Random Training | 80% Production
32 100% Schedule C training
33 20% Random Training | 80% Production
34 20% Random Training | 80% Production
35 20% Random Training | 80% Production
36 20% Random Training | 80% Production
37 100% Partnership tax training
38 20% Random Training | 80% Production
39 20% Random Training | 80% Production
40 20% Random Training | 80% Production
41 20% Random Training | 80% Production
42 100% S-Corp tax training
43 20% Random Training | 80% Production
44 20% Random Training | 80% Production
45 20% Random Training | 80% Production
46 20% Random Training | 80% Production
47 100% C-Corp tax training
48 20% Random Training | 80% Production
49 20% Random Training | 80% Production
50 20% Random Training | 80% Production
51 20% Random Training | 80% Production
52 100% GAAP Financial statement training

The concept is that on about every 5th week, staff are taking a deep dive into a new skill area. On all the other weeks, staff are taking one day to participate in a randomized training day focused on one of the 11 skill areas. In one 5-week cycle, they will complete 4 collective random training days and 5 back-to-back days of training a new skill.

As staff progress through the year, the skills to learn become more and more difficult, but they have increasingly more randomized training under their belt. With 39 randomized training days in their first year, staff will have already had 3 or 4 training days on the most difficult subject.

After the first year, all weeks switch to 80/20% production/training time with staff using their 20% training time to specialize into specific skills for their current-role or to prepare for a move into a new role. The 20% is also used by second-year staff to cover the 80% capacity lost to the full training days of new in-coming staff.

Learning Styles meet Training Approaches

We are working on a training model that recognizes seven learning styles. We have five potential ways to present content. I’m a visual and logical learner, so here’s a graphic for you 😉:

 

Written and Video

We will use LinkedIn training when it’s available and in-house written training when LinkedIn is lacking (because written is easier for us to produce than video right now). I am looking for pre-packaged accounting training if anyone knows a good source.

Observation

We have decided that learners observing work is not highly valuable from a learner’s perspective relative to the other tools available. We are not building that into the system at this time. However, I believe that trainer observations of learners in sandbox and lean cell work is invaluable.

Sandbox

We tried sandbox work with great success in the past, so we have decided to commit more resources to build a collection of client files for staff to work through as if it was production work. The work will go through the regular review flow. It will also have the benefit of allowing the learner to check their own work. The original production work papers along with everyone’s work papers who completes the sandbox training will be housed together. We think this is a powerful way to do solitary learning.

Lean Cell

A lean cell brings together all staff involved in work on a video call (usually admin, prep, and review). The staff work through several items together in tight sequence. The work is passed directly from admin to prep to review to feedback to admin (processing) all in real-time. Work goes from planned to Waiting for Client Pickup all in one sitting.

Production and sandbox work will flow through without distinction, so learners and production staff are able to work at the same time and learn in the same context. Feedback from any step is heard by the rest of the staff on the call. We have seen this become another powerful part of our system and think that it lends itself to bringing a learner up quickly.

Summary

Taken together, the approaches above cover all the learning styles. We hope to organize all of these training approaches into a designed 40-hour (for deep learning) or 8-hour (for random learning) chunks.

This is our rough draft of a learning system designed to bring new staff up to speed quickly and make it easy for them to become productive members of the team. We also think that it will drive engagement if we are continually encouraging staff to learn new skills. Nothing here is authoritative and we will adjust the system as we give it a try for the first time and every time going forward.

What do y’all think? What gaps do you see? What’s in here that doesn’t need to be here?


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