In academia one takes classes to enrich the mind and replenish the spirit. Enterprise learning is similar, but the bottom line must be fulfilled as well as the individual brains that drive the business. At Medrad Inc., a global leader in innovative medical devices, learning pushes forward the business objectives that impact the organization.
Medrad has a balanced scorecard featuring five top business objectives: financial growth, continuous improvement and innovation, company growth, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. A variety of training delivery methods are used with a focus on effective e-learning, but most learning is classroom-based.
Keith Young, director of learning and development, is responsible for educating 1,300 employees, and Medrad has a separate applications group that instructs customers in best clinical usage practices on a global scale. “If we do an internal design of a program, we have a fairly rigorous and robust analysis, design and delivery process that’s well defined, and we work with that process to develop and drive toward meeting our internal customers’ needs. We use our process to gather information for analysis, then we use it for the design phase, the development phase and the follow-up phase. After that we get feedback from those primary customers on how we’ve done,” said Young.
The feedback is then used for the next process application. Young uses Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation to test specific courses, especially courses built around Medrad products. “A lot of our work is project-based. Someone comes and says, ‘We need training on how to improve the clinical acumen of people dealing in cardiovascular.’ When that becomes a project, we follow our process, and at the end of that we utilize a STAR survey. The STAR survey goes to that particular customer, not the people sitting in the class. It goes to those folks who we actually did the work for. The STAR survey follows our process, and people give us feedback,” said Young.
To achieve optimum levels of customer satisfaction, Medrad aims for what it has coined “Top Box” ratings. “It’s a five-point scale, and we want people to check that Top Box for us in all of our questions,” said Young. “If they don’t, we ask, ‘What will it take for us to get the Top Box with you the next time?’ Then we take all of those customer feedback sheets, we have a database that we put it into and along with participant feedback, we take both sets of that data and we do continuous improvement. We do that every two months. We change courses, we change how do things, how we deal with our customers, all based on that. We have a set of what we call ‘STAR behaviors’ that we have identified that all people in learning and development need to use to ensure that we are doing the right things for our customers.” STAR stands for seamless, trustworthy, attentive and resourceful.
Medrad turnover is low, about 5 percent, and Young said that employee development is a contributing factor. Medrad employees are developed through learning, leadership and other soft skill development and a process involving job rotations. “Job movement is one of the most effective ways for people to learn new skills,” Young explained. “We select people and move them into jobs at all levels for a period of three to five months and they learn new skills. I’ve had three people rotate into learning and development over the last year and a half.”
One example of the job-rotation strategy put a director of finance into a field sales position for a year. The man became the sales rookie of the year, came back to the finance department and is now the executive director of finance. Success at Medrad means using a hands-on learning approach to create enhanced capability and to encourage new skills growth, which equals increased job performance.