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Training Results You Can Measure: Why Conducting Secretarial Skills Assessments Is Worth Your Effort. March 13th, 2009 Corby Guenther Senior Technology Training and Development Manager Bingham McCutchen LLP [email protected] Bay Area Legal Trainers Organization

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training results you can measure why conducting secretarial skills assessments is worth your effort

Training Results You Can Measure:Why Conducting Secretarial Skills Assessments Is Worth Your Effort

March 13th, 2009

Corby GuentherSenior Technology Training and Development ManagerBingham McCutchen LLP

[email protected] Area Legal Trainers Organization

http://groups.google.com/group/baltorg

some quotes from secretaries
Some quotes from secretaries:
  • No, honestly, how is this going to affect my job/bonus/review?
  • We’ll form a union, and then you’ll be sorry!
  • We’re friends, you can give me a copy of the test!
  • I just want you to know that we hold you responsible for anyone who jumps off the bridge
skills assessment really is a worthwhile project
Skills assessment really is a worthwhile project
  • Assessments help you take some of the “gooshiness” out of training
  • Bingham was forced to come up with standards for document production for the first time
  • Secretaries have taken more responsibility for their training
  • We now have hard data that we can use to design our training programs
  • We have been able to show our follow-up training is effective
but it s far and away the hardest project i ve ever had in this job
But it’s far and away the hardest project I’ve ever had in this job
  • You have to get your firm’s administration interested in the idea of skills assessment
  • You need to make sure that the right group has ownership of the project
  • The skills you want to measure need to be decided on by a group that is fair and credible
  • The firm has to have a communication plan that speaks to the secretaries honestly and with one voice
  • You must be prepared to deal with the emotional fallout
a brief ish history of our long project
A brief(ish) history of our long project
  • Bingham McCutchen has approximately 1000 lawyers and has been formed through a series of mergers
  • Secretaries in various offices had widely different levels of experience with our document production tools (Office, MacPac, iManage)
  • Our goal was to standardize document production across our diverse offices (11 US offices and London)
  • Our New York office had previously done an in-house assessment
a brief ish history of our long project9
A brief(ish) history of our long project
  • We started talking about using an outside resource to conduct a firmwide assessment more than four years ago
  • It took us almost a year to get administration on board and the project off the ground
  • We conducted two rounds of training and delivered a second round of assessments
  • Did anyone lose their job?
a brief ish history of our long project10
A brief(ish) history of our long project
  • We hired Theresa Lundquist (then at Perfect Access/Speer now Profisciencē Partners) to help us with this project
  • We chose to focus on Word and MacPac for this assessment (no Excel or PowerPoint)
  • Theresa helped us put together a list of “Core Competencies” we expected of our secretaries
  • Our NY document production department participated up to this point, but much of the work fell on trainers because of our “technical” expertise
  • Our assessment required secretaries to edit and format an actual Word document based on written instructions (not a simulation)
a brief ish history of our long project11
A brief(ish) history of our long project
  • D-Oh! While we were in the planning stages we announced a merger and needed to roll out Office 2003
  • Assessments were put on hold and we developed Office 2003 training that also incorporated all our core competencies
  • Our plan to conduct assessments wasn’t announced to the secretaries until the week before training started in the first office
  • We had several meetings to talk to the secretaries about what the assessments would be like
  • Our timing wasn’t ideal
a brief ish history of our long project12
A brief(ish) history of our long project
  • Theresa Lundquist and I worked to create the actual document we would use in the assessment so it included all the skills we wanted to measure
  • We decided that we wanted to use one document across the firm for consistency– we chose to use a business agreement
  • Our trainers took the assessment as a pilot and we revised it accordingly
  • We started the “live” rollout in our small Walnut Creek office
timing
Timing
  • Secretaries were given Office 2003 training office by office
  • We conducted assessments about four weeks after the secretaries were trained
  • In the meantime we offered refreshers and drop in sessions
  • We also gave the assessment to Help Desk staff
  • Eventually we were training, rolling out and assessing in several offices at once
  • Secretaries were told to expect their results in about three weeks
logistics
Logistics
  • Assessments were held in the controlled environment of our training rooms
  • Trainers proctored, sometimes with help from HR
  • Secretaries were given a set of instructions, a partially formatted document, and an example of how their final product should look
  • We limited the assessment time to 90 minutes
  • Trainers were there to answer questions about the instructions, check computers afterward.
  • In some offices we tried to have an HR person around in case emotions got out of hand
after the first assessment
After the First Assessment
  • Theresa evaluated assessments emailed to her by the secretaries
  • She sent us back detailed results for individuals, offices and the firm overall
  • We chose not to give the secretaries scores, just put them in courses they needed to attend
  • Tasks were divided into seven categories
  • We set a “passing” threshold at 85% for each category, so secretaries had to take between zero and 7 classes
  • Theresa and I met with HR people from each office to explain and discuss the results
after the first assessment16
After the First Assessment
  • HR people handed out confidential results by hand and let secretaries know they were available to discuss them if desired
  • I took Theresa’s results and imported them into UniversitySite as learning plans
  • We scheduled follow-up training for each office
  • Secretaries could go into UniversitySite, see their learning plans and sign up for class
  • Anyone who receive more than 85% in every category did not have to take the second assessment
  • We could track the progress of individuals and the firm overall
the second round
The Second Round
  • Secretaries completed Learning Plans
  • We revised “refresher” training to make it more focused
  • Trainers taught with a document similar to assessment
  • There were lots of “Ah-ha!” moments where you could see people finally understanding a concept
  • Assessment instructions were simplified for second round
  • Attitudes were much improved the second time
what s next
What’s Next
  • No further plans for Word assessments
  • We did not require new learning plans for secretaries
  • We need to come up with a plan for assessing new hires and people brought in through mergers
  • We’re considering what applications we might do next
  • Our next assessment will probably be a simulation
  • Hopefully the secretaries will get used to the idea of needing to keep their skills up to date
  • ...and we’ll get used to the idea of using assessments to evaluate our training programs
recommendations
Recommendations
  • Having an outside consultant is a huge advantage so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel
  • Decide what kind of assessment you want to do early in the process-- budget time and money accordingly
  • Make sure the project has a strong and actively involved sponsor
  • Involve other groups at each stage of the project
    • Secretarial representatives in defining core competencies
    • Local office representatives so they understand the entire process and have a stake in it
  • Keep attorneys informed about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it
  • Be clear about why you’re doing assessments
recommendations27
Recommendations
  • Do whatever you can to overcome differences between offices and between other groups
  • Don’t link your assessments to a new rollout unless that’s specifically what you want to assess
  • Think hard about how you want to assess people who perform different functions
      • Admin secretaries vs. document producers
      • Litigation vs. Business secretaries
      • Help Desk vs. “Real” users
      • Do you want to use one document type for everyone?
  • Don’t let this be a “secret” project. It just makes secretaries suspicious of your intentions
  • Try to set a casual, everyday tone whenever possible
recommendations29
Recommendations
  • Understand that– despite your best intentions– much of your communication effort will be lost because people won’t hear or believe what you tell them
  • Make it clear that you’re assessing skills that you expect everyone to possess
  • Keep the instructions for the assessment as simple as possible
    • Use language everyone will understand
    • Get as much input from others as possible
  • Make the space you use for the assessment as comfortable as you can and plan for complications
recommendations30
Recommendations
  • Keep assessment documents out of the hands of secretaries. Someone will try to get them
  • Give secretaries as much information as you can so rumors don’t get started. Squash them when they do
  • Deal with troublemakers immediately
  • Help your team to be as well informed as possible so you aren’t giving out different answers to questions
  • Make sure that the link between assessments and training is obvious
  • Have a plan for your next steps so that assessment becomes a regular part of training and development
what can assessments bring to your training programs
What Can Assessments Bring to Your Training Programs?
  • A model for further training efforts
    • Makes training an ongoing process rather than a one-time event
    • Gets your users to accept responsibility for their training
    • Gives you the potential for assessing other groups
  • Credibility- you now have numbers to impress people with
  • A chance to work on a common goal with several groups
  • The opportunity to define best practices and create consistency
  • A sense of accomplishment for users and trainers
training results you can measure why conducting secretarial skills assessments is worth your effort33

Training Results You Can Measure:Why Conducting Secretarial Skills Assessments Is Worth Your Effort

March 13th, 2009

Corby GuentherSenior Technology Training and Development ManagerBingham McCutchen LLP

[email protected] Area Legal Trainers Organization

http://groups.google.com/group/baltorg

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