L&D Best Practices Strategies for Success (May/June 2017)

Training magazine taps 2017 Training Top 125 winners and Top 10 Hall of Famers to provide their learning and development best practices in each issue. Here, we look at Enterprise Holdings Inc.’s Management Training Program.

Fueling the Future: The Enterprise Management Training Program

Like many talent practitioners, I often am asked what experiences or attributes set a job candidate apart. At Enterprise Holdings Inc., we tend to focus on core competencies and abilities rather than experience. We can easily teach someone the ways of our business. But innate traits such as enthusiasm and a willingness to go the extra mile are hard to train.

That’s why the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Management Training Program is so valuable. It’s our way of pipelining raw talent into the company and teaching employees the skills they need to become future leaders.

Enterprise Holdings operates its flagship Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand through an integrated global network of independent regional subsidiaries and franchises. As a result, we keep our Management Training Program decentralized, local, and on a first-name basis. It’s a personalized experience. The structure varies by regional operation, but the core values and skills taught remain consistent. It’s really about learning from the people you work with and being accountable to your team.

A Structured—Yet Personalized—Experience

The origins of Enterprise’s Management Training Program go back to the beginning, when our founder, Jack Taylor, first started the company. He knew he’d have a competitive advantage if Enterprise hired motivated, customer service-oriented people and gave them the opportunity to grow.

Over time, the Management Training Program has become much more structured, but the founding values Jack Taylor instilled into Enterprise’s culture remain a guiding force for the program. In fact, the first things we teach trainees when they enter the program are our company history and founding values. It’s what keeps us aligned to exceed our customers’ expectations.

Trainees are taught how to empower teams and provide excellent customer service. The program also includes extensive training in a wide range of skills needed to run a business, including profit-and-loss management, business-to-business marketing and sales, and operational logistics.

To ensure trainees stay on track, they’re each given a “road map,” or a checklist of skills they’re expected to master within a certain timeframe. When a trainee masters a new skill, his or her manager signs off on it and shares it with HR to track each trainee’s progress for future promotion opportunities. It’s a structured process, but it’s proven to be beneficial for both our business and our employees. Not only does it promote accountability, it helps trainees continue meeting career goals.

Manage What You Measure

Just as we track each trainee’s performance, we base promotions in large part on managers’ ability to retain and develop their employees. Few companies evaluate that type of metric, but for Enterprise, it has proven successful in developing new hires into the next generation of business leaders. We’re constantly learning from each other and passing along that knowledge.

Our Management Training Program is largely grounded in the 70-20-10 philosophy of learning, which maintains that the majority (70 percent) of career preparation comes through learning on the job, while the remainder comes from mentorship (20 percent) and from courses and reading (10 percent).

That’s why we give our Management trainees real responsibility from the get-go, and we expect them to own it. In return, we reward those who rise to the challenge. It’s part of our promote-from-within philosophy. We reward our people based on performance—not seniority. As a result, Enterprise employees have a chance to advance their careers quickly.

While we set high expectations for our new hires, we also make sure they are supervised by and learning from the best. Our Management Training Program employs a blend of job shadowing and active learning. Managers play a crucial role in this process, providing on-the-job support and mentoring that are critical to getting new employees up to speed and prepared to take on new challenges.

This approach is supported by our company’s Show, Observe, Shape (SOS) Training, which helps managers effectively coach their employees by showing them how to perform a particular job, observing them as they complete the task, and shaping their behavior through timely feedback.

Buy-In From the Top

Our promote-from-within culture doesn’t just make Enterprise a great place to build a career; it’s also a real competitive edge. Last year alone, more than 16,000 employees were promoted or took on new challenges throughout the company. The vast majority of these moves originated from the Management Training Program.

It also has become a key recruiting tool. Entry-level hires learn and get promoted quickly through the Management Training Program. They then spread the word about their career path. In fact, employee referrals are our largest single source of hires.

It’s satisfying for new employees to know that their managers—from their immediate supervisors all the way up to our president and CEO, Pam Nicholson, and our executive vice president and chief operating officer, Chrissy Taylor— were in their shoes not long ago. Indeed, the level of buy-in from senior leadership continues to make the Management Training Program what it is today.