Workin’ It Around the Circuit

Verizon’s full-day circuit training for all front-line customer service representatives—including home-based agents—was a big hit with participants.

Based on my recent experience, circuit training is all the rage—and I don’t mean gym workouts.  Although, if you think about it, for those who are not crazy about working out, circuit training at the gym allows you to get through a workout at a fast pace and not be bored. And it works out multiple muscles.

If you bring that same mentality into the world of learning and development, you get the same result. And if you do it enough, you create “muscle” memory—in this case, the muscle being your brain. Now we all know the brain is really an organ, but some describe the brain as a muscle because it can be trained to improve different cognitive functions, such as your memory. 

In my line of work, we have done mini-circuit trainings here and there, but many times, these are just quick hits or for a specialized work group. All that changed about earlier this year. We launched a full-day circuit training for all front-line customer service representatives, which included our home-based agents. Home-based agents generally participate in all training through Adobe Connect rooms, but this initiative enabled us to bring them back to brick and mortar for a day. 

We were able to mix and match reps from different teams and different channels (home based and brick and mortar) into table groups that moved together through the circuit training.

We kicked off the training with a group discussion activity in which learners obtained knowledge about how Verizon invests in our employees. 

The circuits covered many topics that helped them glean a new way of understanding. Instead of my role as trainer, I was more of a guide. This put a lot of the learning into the reps’ hands, which allowed them to draw their own conclusions and look at their day-to-day responsibilities in a different way. Of course, as their guide, I would shape responses as necessary. 

 Needless to say, the day was an eye-opening experience that brought the reality of what a customer can endure if we are not all on the same page and working as a cohesive team. After some more discussion, we ended the day with a competitive group activity. When you add a little friendly competition into the mix, fun is sure to ensue. 

Learner Reactions

We weren’t sure what to expect when it came to feedback. Would the reps be exhausted? Would the home-based agents be upset that they couldn’t do this through Adobe in the comfort of their own home? Would anyone be preoccupied with their cell phones instead of being actively involved? The answers were a resounding, No, No, and No! In fact, the representatives, including home-based agents, want more circuit training. They all agreed they prefer this type of training over classroom training. They enjoyed the live, interactive training and coming back to the center to see some of their old colleagues. Overall, the experience offered a positive impact from a morale standpoint. 

As a Learning and Development professional, I learned a couple of things myself: 

  1. You don’t need a lot of fluff to make circuit training exciting. Some thought-provoking activities, games, and small group interaction is enough. 
  2. If you create it, they will come and want to come back for more. I would say at least 98 percent of the reps in attendance said they wished all of our training could be circuit style. So I say, “Why can’t it be?” A little creativity can go a long way. 
  3. You don’t always have to have a virtual version of training. Case in point, the home-based agents wanted more training like this, live and in person! Who would have thought that actually having to get up, get dressed, and drive to an office would be so much fun?

All in all, it wasn’t just the learners who appreciated circuit-style training; as a Learning and Development professional myself, although it’s exhausting, I’d much rather get my workout in a circuit training class instead of at the gym.

Alaine Carrello is the manager of Culture and Communications at Verizon. She has been with Verizon Wireless for more than 20 years and has been in the Learning and Development organization since 2010. Carrello is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Bellevue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Adult Education. Creative writing is her passion and she recently published her first book.

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