Training Top 10 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (Nov.-Dec. 2020)

Each year Training magazine requires all Training Top 10 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that we share with our readers. Here are the details of how KLA Corporation drove growth and engagement through a company rebrand, Keller Williams Realty’s Command Training, and SCC Soft Computer’s CPP and SST (Start-Stop Timer) Training and Competency Assessment.


Two years ago, KLA-Tencor was in the process of being purchased. When that purchase fell through, KLA-Tencor chose to pivot and re-establish its business strategies and rebrand the company as “KLA.” This rebrand was designed to re-engage current and future employees in the company’s growth strategies, which include reaching $7 billion in revenue by 2023.

In May 2018, KLA senior leadership transferred the Employee Communications function into the Corporate Learning Center (CLC), at the request of the Learning team. None of the CLC members had experience in managing Employee Communications, so the entire team had to learn on the fly. The surprise global rebrand was set to launch on January 9, 2019. Every single element had the same delivery date and prioritization. All this work had to be conducted by a small team of 10 to ensure a surprise at the unveiling.

Content Development

There were three components to the rebrand:

1. The Rebrand Itself: The global launch included a surprise party for 2,500 people at Santa Clara Convention Center, similar surprise events at KLA locations around the world; videos that communicate and reinforce the brand (“CEO Message,” “We Are Optimists,” and “Optimistic People”); a global poster campaign; new global digital signage; intranet, Internet, and e-mail changes; swag for 10,000 employees; and more. While KLA’s external partner, Salt, did the design work for this rebrand, the Corporate Learning Center’s media team produced all the digital content (videos, photos, etc.).

2. Enterprise Leadership Program: To educate leaders on the growth strategy, the rebrand, and the “KLA Operating System,” the CLC worked with senior leaders to design and deliver an all-new “Enterprise Leadership Program” (ELP) based on KLA’s Enterprise Leadership Model (ELM). This is designed as a two-year program. Year one consists of modules on Enterprise Leadership, the KLA Operation System, Product Leadership, and Operations Leadership. Year two consists of Service Leadership, Customer Leadership, and Values in Action. The program ran in July and August 2019. Each of the five sessions lasted a week and consisted of 25 participants, for a total of 125 leaders. This year, there are concurrent sessions as the 125 participants from last year’s program return for year two, while KLA invites another 125 participants to begin their year one program. All content was created in-house with case studies, videos, and facilitated activities. KLA’s CEO and Chief Talent Officer hosted each session. Other senior leaders acted as guest speakers for each cohort and were filmed for distribution.

3. Ongoing Employee Communications: What made all of this possible and sustainable was the move to integrate Employee Communications with the Learning organization. The CLC reformatted KLA’s global all-hands meeting, rebooted its intent and use of digital signage, and has begun to treat every e-mail or blog as a training “event.”

Continuous messaging occurs through all-hands sessions, brown bag lunches with the CEO, e-mail and blog campaigns, and use of digital signage. All ELP sessions were filmed and distributed via KLA’s corporate media platform.


Outcomes were measured in three ways:

1. Engagement Survey: In September 2019, KLA conducted its bi-annual Engagement Survey. More than 84 percent of employees responded (a record for KLA), and all scores were equal to or higher than in the previous survey.

Three areas were of particular importance:

  • “Alignment,” which indicates whether employees are aligned with the business strategies of the company, scored at 83 percent. This is up 4 percentage points from 2017, and is 12 percentage points higher than the “Global High-Performing Company Benchmark” provided by KLA’s survey vendor.
  • “Engagement” scored at 78 percent positive (11 points higher than the “Global High-Performing Company Benchmark”).
  • “Business Agility” scored at 76 percent (14 points higher than the “Global High-Performing Company Benchmark”).

2. Revenue Growth: KLA revenue for the 12 months ending September 30, 2019, increased 17.51 percent year-over-year.

3. Feedback from the Enterprise Leadership Program: At the end of the ELP training, KLA surveyed all 125 attendees. For every survey statement, 100 percent of attendees responded with “Agree” or “Strongly Agree.” Statements included:

  • “I am better prepared to be an enterprise leader.”
  • “I established/enhanced important relationships.”


In February 2019, at Keller Williams Realty’s annual Family Reunion event, CEO Gary Keller and President Josh Team announced the companywide introduction of Command, a smart customer relationship management (CRM)-plus suite of apps hosted within a proprietary, artificial intelligence-fueled real estate cloud for Keller Williams agents. This was a major milestone in the company’s quest to build the real estate industry’s first end-to-end platform, provided at no additional cost to all KW agents.

From initial launch to the present day, Keller Williams University (KWU) has developed Command training to support the product’s evolution from a tool with limited functionality to one that is now a full-fledged technology solution, integrated into the operations of KW franchise offices and agent businesses.

Program Details

Command training is available companywide to all Keller Williams agents and franchise operators (more than 160,000) in North America. From the very beginning, KWU had to take into account the fact that agents run their business in their own unique way, whether they are new solo agents or high-producing mega agents with their own multiperson sales team. KWU also had to design training that is opt-in, not compulsory, and delivered outside of a centralized learning management system (LMS).

Since January 2019, the Training team has developed a sizeable body of just-in-time content to support associate engagement with Command, accommodating the fact that Command has been in a formative stage in its development since first launched, with associates in KW LABS groups (where the brand partners with agents in the development of core technology) continually testing it, breaking it, and providing feedback to drive new product iterations. To stay agile, the team has remained in regular communication and collaboration with executive leadership and interdepartmental stakeholders throughout the company. This has helped KWU deliver up-to-the-minute content that is aligned with a product that is updating weekly.

To address the stated challenges and establish an educational foundation with its associates in the field, KW started by rolling out a series of technology “Road Show” trainings throughout all 31 KW regions in North America. These instructor-led training (ILT) sessions, led by Command LABS leaders, helped to build momentum for the product through trainings and user LABS sessions. Additionally, KWU developed:

  • Thirty-eight new one-hour ILT courses to train on Command’s ever-growing list of features and functions, which are regularly adapted to keep Command content up-to-date for more than 200 individual live sessions on Connect Live, KW’s dual virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and livestream video platform. These daily interactive sessions are delivered by some of KW’s top agents and executive leaders live and made available to associates on-demand.
  • Twenty-five interactive, downloadable Command guides and job aids on everything from preparing an agent’s database for import into Command to walking them through the steps needed to run compliance processes.
  • More than 220 help articles and 120 how-to videos directly integrated into Command’s help function for just-in-time product support.
  • 50-plus hours of Command-related breakout content at annual KW events such as Family Reunion and MegaCamp.
  • More than 40 hours of live Webinar sessions, also available on-demand, to educate tech trainers and leaders in franchise offices on product updates and developments.


As of November 2019, KW had seen an increase in active users of at least 5 percent each month since Command’s introduction. Overall, Command training has supported more than half of the company in getting onboarded and trained. As of third-quarter 2019, Command had roughly 99,875 active users, almost 40,000 more users than from the end of the previous quarter. The adoption rate companywide stands at 61.5 percent.


In 2019, SCC Soft Computer formulated a global directive to automate its Accounting billing processes and procedures. The 11-phase project focuses on adding valuable time-saving reporting tools and mapping out the quotient differences between the five SCC internal systems utilized by accounting, support, software development, quotes, and contract personnel.

The first two phases of the project were completed last year. The keystone of those first two phases was a review of the iTMS, a task management system that is utilized to track and update purchase orders, business travel arrangements, client support tasks, client project management, product development work completed, and other relevant tasks.

For 26-plus years, daily time sheets were required of all SCC employees. Tasks were created for every aspect of an employee’s workday. Once the tasks were created by the employee, manager, or third party, the employee manually entered them into iTMS.

SCC developed a new micro-process to govern time sheets called CPP (Client, Product, and Project—the three classifications of tasks that need to be tracked via time sheets for billing and cost accounting purposes). To correct the problem of missing time sheets or erroneously entered tasks, Information Systems developed an automated Start-Stop Timer (SST) application.

SCC CEO Gilbert Hakim directed HR and Educational Services to be added to the project team. He requested key subject matter experts be tapped from each department to train employees on the SST application with a goal of rolling the application out within one month of the app’s availability. The success of the entire cost accounting directive was dependent on this first successful automation rollout.

Program Details

Phase I of the training focused on training the SMEs, while Phase II was the planned sessions in which SMEs trained their own department members on the use of the SST primarily through a PowerPoint presentation.

Phase III involved rapidly developing online learning and quizzes via iSpring for the CPP process and the SST.

Phase IV required everyone who would touch the SST to take the online training courses. Managers had to take both the CPP and the SST training. Employees who felt they were ready were allowed to move right to the quiz.

Phase V and VI included the evaluation of the pass/fail data and the next steps. Approximately one-third of the employees failed on the first attempt, which told SCC that the SME training wasn’t as thorough as it needed to be. The Professional Development specialist identified areas where the SMEs needed to retrain on the SST. Microlearning was developed and rolled out to help with some of the attitude changes that needed to occur and identify meeting and conference call best practices to help employees manage their client and time more effectively.

Managers are required to audit the SST and CPP process on a weekly basis. Managers must approve the time sheets and must immediately counsel employees who are not following the process. Failure to follow the CPP process can include repercussions for both the employee and the manager. Information is being fed back to Information Systems in real time, which is how they decide what enhancements need to be made to the system. These enhancements are communicated by e-mail to all SCC and overseas vendors who utilize the SST.


Some 1,841 employees have completed Timer Training, and 1,868 have completed CPP Process Training. To date, the CPP/ SST has saved employees 1,500 hours of time per month. Reporting accuracy has improved by 75 percent.

Accounting has already seen an improvement in the accuracy in the time spent (for billing purposes) by the client, product, and project cost centers, so SCC feels confident its goal of a 50 percent reduction in billing time will be achieved—if not exceeded—by the time the rest of the systems are automated in 2021.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.