In this episode, we are joined by Peter Greg de Villa as we talk about what is it like in the shoes of a trainer of an outsourcing company along with things to keep in mind to prepare your new staff members.
Adam: Hi there. Welcome to the Outsource HQ podcast. We have something special planned today as we're joined here by a lovely guest.
He has trained new staff for five years, two years in the office, and three years remotely from the safety of their own home. He'll also be receiving a diploma for Workplace Learning and Development mid-2023. And he is also certified in digital marketing from the Columbia Business School. So I'd like to introduce my friend and colleague, coach Peter Greg De Villa.
What's going on? Pete?
Peter: Hey Adam. Hey, thank you for having me in your podcast.
Adam: The pleasure's all mine. So five years. Five years working and training new staff at USource.
Peter: Yeah, like five years. It's, it's been a long time, you know, and a lot has happened. I actually started, yeah, a lot, in the past few years.
I started in 2017, and with the company as an advertiser then, moving forward I did some of the training and been doing it face-to-face, training, as you said. So we've been doing it in our training room and. You know, even at one point, you started doing the training, remember?
Adam: Yeah. I had a good run with it around pre-pandemic, I think.
I did it for probably a year and a half if, if memory-
Peter: Yeah yeah. And that was pre-pandemic times I remember. And like, you know, before that everything was done in our training room. It's done face-to-face and then covid happened and we had to transition everything to online training. So, that was a whole process in itself where, where we had to move most of our training program online.
We had to identify all of these tools that we're going to be using to be able to do remote training. So, but yeah, you know, we, we still manage, we were still able to get new staff, new team members coming into the company. And even until now, we're still going at it. And at this point, you know, we're reaching over a hundred staff already, with the company.
Adam: Yeah. In between the time of pre-pandemic and post-pandemic, I could see we have improved on a lot and USource has grown exponentially since then.
Peter: Yeah. And I'm surprised that, we were still able to operate. I mean, it was a difficult time actually. It was a very difficult time.
Adam: Mm-hmm, I would agree. I would agree.
I could say that the job of a trainer is to prepare new staff for these types of situations, as well as how to adapt to them. So with that being said, what do you think is the function of a training manager?
Peter: So, In my case, or should I say, in our case, we facilitate training for new staff and we keep track of upskilling activities that, our current staff are doing.
And, one of the things that we're also practicing is that we're trying to identify the gaps, you know, where, where training is needed. And once we know where the gaps or where training is actually needed, we would develop training materials or even improve on the ones that we already have existing. So in an outsourcing context, since, that's part of the question where you mentioned, what's the function of a training manager? So for outsourcing, it's getting our staff to become client ready, you know, for them to be able to do digital tasks for our clients. So with that in mind, we do have a heavy focus on training for active communication.
Productivity and platform knowledge because these are commonly the platforms or the things that are required by our clients.
Adam: Yeah, these types of things are pretty basic skills, but they are also hard to actually obtain. Not everyone could, just go up and talk to anybody, especially in a business aspect. What would you say is universal for any type of training regardless of the field though?
Peter: That's a very good question because we're starting from outsourcing and now we're going to look at training in a universal sense, regardless of industry. So the way I like to look at training is two points. The first one would be that, training is definitely an avenue for learning and development for employees, for them to advance their careers or be good at what they're doing.
The second one is that training is a business operation. In the end, the reason why we do training is to be able to contribute to the business. So training should be able to function and contribute to the overall business goals because it's a business operation, right? So, therefore, it should be goal driven. And I just wanted to share this quote from a professor from the Kellogg School of Management.
His name is, Fred Harburg. He states that you know, as per performance professionals, we are in the business of facilitating improved business results. So for training, there is an aspect where it has to be learner-centric, but at the same. It should be able to contribute to business results and attain the best return on the investment, of course.
So, you know, there's that kind of balance that we have to try to achieve that yes, you have to be contributing to the business end goals, but of course, you'll still have to consider the learners, right? What are they able to take away from the training? So there's that balance.
Adam: Yeah, I do see that type of balance whenever we get to train these new employees.
It is of course, actually seeing what do these new trainees needs versus what our clients need. And there's a lot of things that we have to look at. You mentioned return on investments, so let's talk about the investment. What is the main investment? Or let's just say, what is the main priority when training future employees?
Peter: Right, so this is where I like to talk about the aspect of training, where it has to be learner-centric, right? Nowadays, we should look at learners as having an active role in learning. So it's not like before, you know, when trainers, they push out learning, they push out all these materials and like, all right, you have to complete this.
You have to finish this. Learners or your participants or your trainers, they now have a more active role in learning, right? And we have to be able to make learners more involved in the learning process. So that's the priority when it comes to training future employees, is that we have to make it learner-centric.
We have to be able to make these learning experiences more centered toward the learners. You know, that's why there are a lot of learning methods that are coming up nowadays where trainers are creating interactive experiences. Where they're creating interactive experiences for their learners and you know, making use of digital technologies and self-based learning and microlearning, and that's giving the learners a more active role in learning.
It's not like how we used to do it before. It's not how training was done before where we would push out content now it should be about the learners. That would be the main priority whenever you're training for future employees.
Adam: Yeah, we always have to have an end goal when training new. That's always the forefront of our minds.
But what about for outsourcing? What is the end goal for that?
Peter: So we're going to look at it in the perspective of an outsourcing company. And with that, yeah, I'm going to rewind to the beginning, right? Pre-training or before the training actually happened. So, and then we can talk about the end goal.
So if we rewind back the roles of the trainers, right, is to identify where training is. Why it's needed and if it's actually needed at all. And that's the roles of trainers. Pre-training. You know, training, intervention happens when there is a gap. A gap in skills, expertise or performance. And that's where our trainers come in.
We provide the necessary training intervention within those gaps. So in the context of an outsourcing company, as a trainer, we have to identify what gaps do we have in providing digital services to our outsourcing clients.
Adam: Right. And it is our job to fill in these gaps itself, whether like you said, skills, expertise, performance, where they're lacking or where they're strong in.
And we have to let them know where they're strong at.
Peter: Yes, that's exactly correct. Like we have to understand. Those gaps, we have to be able to fill in those needs. And you know, it's, it's similar to like a SWAT analysis where you understand the strengths, the weaknesses, you find the opportunities of, of learning and development.
And then, you find the threats that would hinder the learning. And, speaking of the SWAT analysis, I just wanted to share something that I realized, you know, spending some time in both marketing and in training that, you know, there, there's a lot of parallel between training and marketing as a business operation, right.
So, you know, we've established earlier that training, it's a business operation and marketing is also a vital part of any business operation. So in marketing, we build up on the knowledge that some of the basic things that you need to do when you want to find success in digital marketing is that you have to consider your goals, your audience, and your content, and in training.
It's actually quite similar. It's the same. So we mentioned earlier that training has to be goal-oriented, in terms of filling in the gaps or filling in the needs of the company or the clients that we need, that we have. And then, we have to understand our audience. So like what we mentioned earlier, it's that it's about being learner-centric.
So who are your audiences? Of course, your audiences here are your learners or your participants, right? Or your, your trainees, and then of course we have the content, and that is where we start tailoring content or tailoring learning materials or learning opportunities for your participants or for your trainees.
So you see there's there, there are parallels. There're parallels to marketing and training, right? As a business.
Adam: I could totally subscribe to that type of ideal for the training where there are a lot of parallels of training and marketing, with the business goals in mind. The marketing itself, I could see it work like this.
We have the business goals, which is to get our trainees, our new staff members up to speed. Before they get, you know, client work. Right? Then once they get to the clients, that's the marketing that is actually seeing what they could do in a hands-on perspective. So the whole end goal of. Not only is it to prepare these new trainees, but it's also to sell your company to your employees.
Now, I'm not talking like where we sell the company physically. We're not giving them any, like, we're not giving them the rights to use the name, stuff like that. It's more like selling the idea of the company it is trying to get them on board with, Hey, USource is about outsourcing, right? We have to get them to understand what outsourcing is.
We have to get them to understand what do we do and our core values. Right?
Peter: Yeah. That's it. And you know what, if, if you really want to go deep into, how training and marketing is connected, you know, When it comes to training you, you develop courses, you develop, learning opportunities, and, you know, these are products you, you create these products for people.
And, you know, when it comes to developing or creating products, they usually solve a problem. It's the same sense when it comes to trading. It's that we develop these materials, we develop these, learning opportunities. I guess they're, they're more parallels. So we could talk about training and marketing.
Adam: Yeah. There's so many parallels that we could talk about. If allowed we could do that for hours on it. But let's go back to another thing that you mentioned. Different individual gaps, right? Like skills, expertise, and performance. It's all pertaining to the individual. It is all about the individual who needs that type of support, right?
So what is it like dealing with new and old workforce? Because of course, what I know from my experience is that you're going to meet a lot of different people. How do you identify what they need?
Peter: So the way I like to look at this is it depends on the individual, right? So this is where getting to know your audiences come in.
Just like you mentioned, you'll be getting all sorts of learners, into your training. I don't really like to look at it in an age sense or in a generational sense. Right. I'd like to look at it in a learner's perspective. So you have different kinds of learners. There are different kinds of learning styles.
Like some people, they might prefer visuals, right? Or auditory or maybe reading and writing. Then we also have the theory of experiential learning where you have those who learn best by actually doing the thing, right? Or through experience. There are some people who prefer learning when they get the time to process what they've learned or analyze what they've learned, to consume what they're learning now and have some time to reflect on their learnings.
And I actually count myself in that sort of group where, you know, I'd like to take my time in learning. Now if you put these kinds of learners on the spot, you may not get the best engagement, right? Maybe if you give them, or you allow them some time to think about the learning that they just done, that they would be able to engage more, or maybe they have more to bring out.
There's another set of groups or a set of learners where they prefer. working with each other or collaborating and learning from others through experience, right? They like working in the group. So it's the job of trainers to make learning programs that would fit these different kinds of learners.
You know, in our case, we're actually practicing a lot of these programs or different kinds of learning approaches or training approaches. Whenever we get new team members that are joining in, they would go through a certain set of programs and then once they join their specific teams, they get a different set of training.
And, you know, the experience is different overall, and it caters to different kinds of learning styles.
Adam: The thing about training is like what you said, we're going to meet a lot of people, different people, different personalities, some more talkative than. Some, more recluse than others, nontalkative types.
So with that in mind, this type of job is kind of tiring from time to time. Wouldn't you agree?
Peter: Yeah. I mean, you know, that's one of the challenges of trainers they have to, create these programs and make it engaging for different sorts of learners and, you know, they always have to find solutions or find ways that they could engage the differences between the individuals that are joining us.
Adam: Yeah. And this becomes one of the main hurdles that we have to. Look at whenever we're training each and every month. Some companies do training quarterly, some do it like every half year. But for us, at USource, doing it every month is quite a toll. And I'd like to ask you, how do you reset the training and go back to zero every month
Peter: The way our training is set up is that it happens every month with a different batch of or a different group of trainings that are going to be joining us. So how do we reset the training? I guess I would like to highlight maybe three points. The first point would be the structure, having a very reliable structure in training where.
I'd like to use the term recyclable. Like we could recycle the training, after every month or after a certain number of days we could recycle it. And the whole structure was purpose-built for that kind of setup where we could restart the training. So if you have a very good structure, if you have the training set up, well, then we would be able to reset every month. So tailoring your content or tailoring your training program to the need. So that's, one thing we talked about, the second one, my second point would be the tools, so yes, you have the training, you have the structure in place. Now, what about the tools? What about the processes?
Right? How is it able to help you achieve this reset that we do every month? Right. So in this case, we use different kinds of platforms or different kinds of learning platforms that enable us to do the cycle again. You know, it makes life easy as a trainer, you know, it, it helps us recycle the training. Back to zero, the last thing, and, I would say this is really the driving force for me when it comes to training. It's the idea that you're imparting knowledge to others that you are able to help in some way. The careers of those that you get in touch with. Right, because as a trainer, you'll meet different kinds of people and you're going to affect their lives in some way, in terms of their career, their skills, their expertise, and the things that they will learn. It may be something that they will be bringing into their future careers or their career paths. The thing that helps me go back to zero every month is meeting these individuals and knowing that I'll be able to impact them in some way, in their careers. And, you know, you get to see their progress throughout their training, all the way to joining their teams and doing client work.
Adam: Yeah, I believe the beginning part and the end part of the training is the main process. That makes it the most human.
Adam: Where we see these new people come in, we see how, eager they are to get a new job. They could be very knowledgeable in the field already, or they could just be a newcomer. And we get to see all that process throughout the training and we get to see what career path they decide for themselves.
Peter: Right. Yeah, that's, that's very well said, Adam. And you know, that spark or it sparks in me that yeah, we, we have to go back to zero because we're going to be doing it over again with a different person and you'll get to see again, their progress, as they move along.
Adam: Yeah. Like, it's just amazing just seeing all these new people.
And then the next thing you know, the next month has come and they're already part of a new batch of teammate. And then they're going to have mock calls, and then they're going to have their own clients after a few months. It's just, it's very enlightening in a way. But with that being said, I do have one more question for you, and it is quite a subject, it's very subjective.
When does the training end?
Peter: There's two ways to look at this. The first one would be achieving your end goals. So we've already established that training should be goal oriented. It should be able to achieve an end goal and that end goal is usually solving a problem or filling in the gaps or the needs of a company or the needs of our, outsourcing clients in our case.
So that's where I would say training ends. Another way to look at this is in line with the saying "Learning is a lifelong journey. And training can help you achieve that. There are a lot of training opportunities. There are a lot of training programs or experiences that would help you in your career, in your work, or even in life in general.
So just like in learning training can be a lifelong journey as well.
Adam: Well, there you have it. I'd like to thank Peter for joining us on this episode of Outsource HQ. Next time though, we'll be diving into some social media, so I'll catch you then.