Advanced Banking Training at ESL

Before launch, the company’s learning and development team delivered a blended curriculum.

By Margery Weinstein

In September 2010, ESL expanded its financial services portfolio, adding not only Business Banking products and services but also small and mid-sized businesses to its membership mix. The new business processes, procedures, and offerings were foreign to front-line staff and support functions. So before launch, the company’s learning and development (L&D) team delivered a blended curriculum that included instructor-led training (ILT), post-ILT support resources, a custom practice database, and a comprehensive CBT module. Here is how the program has evolved:

  • Several months after launch, L&D began formally evaluating the effectiveness of the blended solution. Collaborating with key stakeholders and managers, L&D reviewed business results vs. plan, assessed current operational performance and specified the desired state, and identified skill and behavior gaps on Business Banking processes, products, and services.
  • Though the initial business results far exceeded plan, the rate of operational errors and confusion was higher than anticipated within certain processes and procedures. Also, calls to ESL’s Help Desk indicated where front-line employees needed additional support.
  • Along with Business Banking stakeholders, L&D determined an Advanced Training Workshop was needed for approximately 170 front-line and support staff. Rather than simply provide more training classes and support materials, L&D recommended an approach that would place greater accountability and responsibility on learners.
  • Stakeholders agreed the company’s intranet should provide access to all of the resources the front line needed to perform. L&D built the blended curriculum around a “fishing” theme. The underlying premise was the same as the adage, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
  • ESL believed this empowerment concept could be applied to teaching its front line to fish for online performance support resources on the company’s products, services, processes, and procedures.
  • After gaining stakeholder support, L&D designed a pre-work self-study guide that helped lead ESL’s front line to those resources. The company followed with a one-day advanced skills classroom workshop¾one specially designed for front-line managers and the other for select front-line and support staff.
  • ESL also enhanced the Business Banking CBT with the latest content as a post-classroom support aid. Six weeks after classroom training, the learning team conducted field assessments with front-line managers to evaluate their level of proficiency and ability to coach their direct reports to meet the established performance standards for Business Banking.
  • Figures from ESL’s Help Desk and Deposit Operations suggest this learning strategy has helped strengthen the front line’s performance on Business Banking and improved the company’s operational effectiveness.
  • For example, in first quarter 2011 (prior to the Advanced Workshop), the Help Desk fielded nearly 1,600 calls from the front line on Business Banking matters. As of late third quarter (post-workshop), that number had fallen to roughly 450. Likewise, Deposit Operations documented 479 Business Banking errors in the first quarter. In the second quarter (post-workshop), that number dropped sharply to 142 errors, less than one-third the first quarter rate. Though complete third quarter figures were unavailable, only 22 errors were reported in July 2011.

HAVE INPUT OR TIPS on this topic? If so, send them our way in an e-mail to lorri@trainingmag.com with the subject line “ESL,” and we’ll try to include your advice in an upcoming edition of the Training Top 125 Best Practices/Executive Exchange e-newsletter.

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