By Vincent Araujo
Recently, I was asked to share my thoughts concerning the value that a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) brings to a corporation or organization. When I thought about this, what came to mind was the standard of work that we all produce when assigned a project. You see, any time a CPT is assigned to a project, leadership knows they can expect a CPT to RSVP.
One of the requirements for the CPT designation is the demonstrated work showing how we applied our 10 performance standards. The first four standards are what we call our principles, and standards five through ten are the systematic process that we follow. An easy way to remember our principles is by the acronym RSVP–results, systems, value, partnership.
A CPT in our organization brings a level of work that we all come to depend on. Folks know that whenever they assign a CPT to a project or have one join their work or come to a CPT with a request, they are going to get a lot of questions about the results they are looking to achieve. This is where focus on results comes into play. We ask questions trying to understand what results they are trying to achieve, how will they know when they have reached the goal, and how would they define success. These are just examples of some questions we would ask the project owners prior to proceeding with the work.
We then look at all levels of work to determine all factors related to the request. Project owners know that we do not provide a one-trick pony for solving any issue. We know there are usually many factors that cause the issue; therefore, we will be looking at providing multiple solutions. This is where we take a systemic view.
We make sure before proceeding with any project that the work we do will bring value to the organization. We look to see whether it worth us doing this work. Will it give us a return on our investment? With all of the cutbacks and need to do more with less we see in corporate America today, we need to make sure that our time and effort are put into initiatives that will add value to the bottom line.
Finally, we know as CPTs that we are not going to solve this on our own. We know where to get the experts we need to help us support our initiatives. We know how to work in partnership with clients and stakeholders. Too many times we ask for help in solving issues or with providing a solution but are then left alone to come up with that solution. When working with a CPT, you can expect to have folks from all areas of the business and support groups involved in the project as deemed necessary.
So as you can see, when working with a CPT, you can expect we will bring RSVP. Here is an example of a project that came to our group, and I was asked to represent the group in this initiative.
A request was made to look at shortening our new-hire programs across all business groups. They were trying to save some costs and thought there was an opportunity to reduce some of the cost associated with how long our new-hire training programs ran. So they asked each group to take a look at their new-hire program and come back with recommendations on how much they could cut. I was assigned to represent our group and to participate in this project.
We set up a call with our partners within our university to discuss this project. We started to hear what some of the other groups were already doing to meet the objective of this project by taking a look at their curriculum and looking for items they thought were either outdated or could be shortened or eliminated. I made the following statement, “If this is just about cutting training by a certain number of days, I am sure we can do that, but will that mean the agent will be able to do everything you want him or her to do, probably not.” That led the discussion to: What are we expecting a new-hire agent to do once he or she leaves new-hire training? No one could answer that. So we went back to the business owners and asked that question. We were able to get clarity around what they expected a new hire to deliver both in terms of performance metrics and what they expect a new hire to deliver at the outcome of every call. As you can see, this approach started focusing on the results the business owners were expecting from the outcome of this project. They did want to save cost but not at the expense of the performance they required a new hire to deliver.
Once we knew what results we needed to deliver and how we were going to measure success, we then started looking at all factors that could affect this work. Once we understood the behaviors necessary to perform the new-hire agents’ job, we were able to start working on the new-hire curriculum needed to build that skill set. We also looked at how we were hiring our new hires and noticed our hiring profile did not exactly match what we were looking for in a new-hire applicant. We knew we had some work to do there. We saw additional opportunity in the support tools we were using and with some of our processes that did not provide the right information for our new hires to be effective. There were several other areas that we looked at to ensure we were taking a systemic view for this initiative.
When we first looked at this initiative, we asked ourselves, “Will we be able to add value to the bottom line taking on this initiative.” There are times when we all have no choice in what work we are able to take and what work we are able to push back on. This initiative was not a choice; we had to participate and come back with our recommendations. Although this came in as a request to reduce new-hire time, we were able to gain understanding of the true measurement of success for this project, and, by working on this project with that understanding, we were able to deliver a set of solutions that not only met the results the business owners were looking for, but also shortened the training by one week. That one-week reduction did not come at a cost of our new hires coming out of training not able to perform their job.
This accomplishment was possible because of the partnerships we established with the university folks, which included the development group, the delivery team, and the support tools group. We also brought in other folks from HR including employee experience people and our recruiting group. We partnered with the business group as well, including those who were responsible for the systems we use, and we brought in the owners of many of our processes. We engaged with representatives from the agent pool and support pool in our call centers to get them involved in the final product and solutions. This partnership allowed us to not only come up with a better new-hire curriculum, but also put in place solutions that outlined what happens when new hires leave training and transition to a team on the floor.
This is just an example of the value a CPT brings to an organization and the set of standards that he or she brings to any initiative. The approach and results we saw from this work caused the other groups to review their recommendations and they eventually adopted our approach and thinking and made the necessary adjustments to focus more on RSVP.
About the Author
Vincent Araujo is the manager of performance delivery at Sprint. Vince and his team of performance specialists are responsible for identifying opportunities and providing solutions to improve performance at Sprint’s call centers and for ensuring consistency in product and service rollouts. A longtime ISPI member and supporter, Vince is a tireless advocate for the tools of our trade and takes a pragmatic approach to placing improved performance within easy reach. Vince was a past member of the Certification and Accreditation Governance Committee and is on the CPT Subcommittee and was part of the group when they participated in the work to validate and update our standards.