Companies that achieve Training magazine’s Top 10 Hall of Fame put a tremendous amount of time and effort—not to mention blood, sweat, and tears—into the process. The induction of two more companies in 2018 brings the total number of Hall of Fame companies to 16.
The competition gets stiffer each year, and the Top 125 application continues to evolve. Each application is scored both quantitatively and qualitatively, with a heavy emphasis on Kirkpatrick Level 3 and 4 results. To achieve Hall of Fame entry, organizations need to earn a Top 10 ranking on the Training Top 125 for four consecutive years.
Companies that accomplish this not-so-easy feat—and even those that just make the Top 125 list—would do well to use this recognition to build on their reputation as a thought leader, both internally and externally. Current Top 10 Hall of Fame members say the recognition has solidified Learning & Development’s importance among senior leadership; provided invaluable networking opportunities; and attracted new recruits, clients, franchisees, and vendors.
Some Hall of Fame inductees have described the Training Top 125 application process as grueling. Therefore, “if your company goes through the Top 125 application process, it’s important that senior leaders value the recognition,” stresses Lou Tedrick, vice president, Global Learning & Development at Verizon.
“When we first applied, our HR team said, ‘That’s nice.’ As we moved up the ranks, ‘That’s nice,’ changed to, ‘This is great!’” Now Hall of Fame inclusion has become a morale booster throughout the entire organization, Tedrick says. The effect is so great that leaders of newly acquired companies are eager to work with Verizon’s L&D organization.
The morale boost may be most evident within the L&D team itself. “This validation assures them that, while they strive to do better each today, they are pretty darn good and work within an elite group of companies,” Tedrick says. Not every challenge can be resolved with a learning solution, so “this gives them the confidence to push back on non-learning requests and to offer better, alternate solutions.”
The validation that comes from being a part of this special community of top-tier learning organizations “gives us enormous internal credibility. It helps set the stage for a deeper and more strategic partnership with our business leaders,” says Cyndi Bruce, executive director, KPMG Business School - U.S.
When Farmers Insurance Group started applying for the Training Top 125, bench-marking was its primary goal. Since then, however, “the broader community of L&D organizations has proven to be collaborative in sharing lessons learned and best practices,” notes Art Dobrucki, director of Learning Performance and Logistics, University of Farmers at Farmers Insurance Group.
The willingness to collaborate on best practices, for example, is partly because of the credibility associated with being a Hall of Fame L&D organization. Leaders know their potential partners have been confirmed as leaders in their field. Consequently, Tedrick says, “I’ve built a great peer network of trusted advisors I can reach out to for benchmarking, input, and advice.”
That includes Jiffy Lube International. The commonality between the two organizations may not be evident initially, but was based on the experience of both companies having brick-and-mortar outlets.
Having validated, top-tier L&D organizations with which to network “helps us calibrate with other companies and other industries to gauge our forward momentum…so we can continuously improve our capabilities and bring greater value to our business,” Tedrick continues. Gauging value against best-in-class organizations “helps us ask for help in closing any gaps. It’s also a good barometer for evaluating ourselves year-over-year. We always review the past year’s Top 125 application and Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiative submission to see how much we’ve changed.”
Vendors, Clients, and Franchisees
Vendors want to work with Hall of Fame companies, so inclusion attracts vendors while giving companies a stronger bargaining position. “It’s a source of pride for vendors (as well as Jiffy Lube’s leadership, franchisees, and employees),” says Jiffy Lube International Manager of Learning and Development Kenneth Barber. “This is a capstone accomplishment that has opened doors for opportunities to share our success story.”
As such, when Barber recounts Jiffy Lube’s experiences at conferences, he is quick to reference vendors and make referrals. “We show our appreciation by embracing them as a part of what makes us great,” he says. “The result is a true partnership rather than a typical company/vendor relationship.”
For franchisees, Jiffy Lube’s Hall of Fame status is seen as a competitive advantage. “Many come from outside the automotive industry and often aren’t knowledgeable about how to service vehicles, particularly as it becomes more complicated. Knowing they have a world-class training program for themselves and their employees relieves a lot of their concerns about taking on a franchise,” Barber explains. As an added benefit, Barber says, all employees and franchisees have unrestricted access to all online content.
Adds Bruce, “External recognition helps reinforce and validate our success stories.” Therefore, detailed descriptions of KPMG’s programs, initiatives, and successes often open or close “with mentions of our presence in the Top 10 Hall of Fame.”
In any organization today, success increasingly depends on attracting the right talent. Demonstrating that your firm is a great place to work and to build a career is vital, and receiving honors such as membership in the Training Top 10 Hall of Fame helps tell that story. At KPMG, Bruce says, “you’ll see the Hall of Fame logo prominently featured in our recruiting materials, Websites, and presentations. It helps us highlight our strong commitment to the development of our people.”
A similar commitment at Farmers Insurance manifests in its national advertising and recruiting campaign, “We Believe in Smart.” The campaign underscores Farmers’ belief in continuous learning and supports the idea that after each interaction with its associates, clients leave a bit smarter and better prepared to protect the things that matter to them.
Recruiting benefits resonate not just within L&D, but throughout companies. Tedrick calls Hall of Fame inclusion “a great advantage.” Internally, she adds, “we use our Hall of Fame status to promote development planning, and at key times of the year, to promote things such as ‘back-to-school’ tuition assistance, ‘summer reading’ through online books and resources, and similar programs.”
Learning Is a Quest
Learning is a quest that involves many people throughout the organization. To fully leverage the award, credit those who embarked on the quest with you.
“Thank all the people who helped win the award—and consider how big that list really is,” Bruce advises. “An organization can’t create extraordinary impact unless the learners themselves are fully engaged. Therefore, the learners—not just the developers and instructors—deserve credit for that impact.
“Sharing credit for winning the award means more people take pride in the win,” she continues. “To create the greatest impact on morale and employee engagement, share the congratulations as widely as possible.”
For Dobrucki at Farmers Insurance, the journey is as valuable as the destination. By earning induction in the Training Top 10 Hall of Fame—as well as being part of it—he says, “we learn what we don’t know and can use that to improve and achieve more with our training programs.” As Farmers gradually moved up the ranks in the Top 125 to the Top 10, “we saw the confidence and pride of our Learning team, our corporate team, our franchisees, and our store employees grow.”
“Even if you never make the Hall of Fame,” Barber says, “the quest to get into it is worth the effort a hundred times over!”
- Network, brainstorm, benchmark, and share best practices with other Hall of Fame members throughout the year.
- Learn about industry best practices and innovations through reviewing and judging Training Top 125 applications and Emerging Training Leader nominations.
- Identify gaps in the organization's current training programs and opportunities for future programs.
- Be perceived in the industry as a thought leader, resulting from contributions to white papers, editorial content, and Training magazine events.
- Utilize Hall of Fame status to obtain a stronger bargaining position with vendors and attract new business
- Use Hall of Fame status to forge deeper and more strategic partnerships between L&D and the organization's business leaders.
- Communicate the recognition throughout the organization to foster employee engagement and motivation.
- Leverage Hall of Fame status to help recruit and retain employees —being known as an organization that values its employees and recognizes the importance of training and development.
Of course, most Hall of Famers will tell you the biggest benefit is not having to fill out the Training Top 125 application ever again!