Inside Wholesale: Interview with Craig Forster, Training Supervisor
“A learning organization is an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.” – Harvard Business Review
At Wholesale Screening Solutions, training our staff to deliver accurate, timely public records research is critical to our success as an industry leader. But we want to do more than just build a training program. We are working to create a living, breathing, learning organization. Craig Forster is Training Supervisor for Wholesale Screening Solutions and he is helping to lead our way along the path of learning.
We sat down with Craig to get his perspective on the link between training, quality, and ultimately, learning.
Q: How would you describe training’s role in quality at Wholesale Screening Solutions?
A: First, it is important to recognize that the entire training function at Wholesale is centered on quality. Our training team is always represented and involved in weekly “State of Quality” meetings so we can get direct insight into how our efforts are translating into business results. There’s a perception that training is all about people and soft skills, but to me it’s about supporting business performance. Whatever the business is trying to measure, that’s what we support.
Q: How do you help people balance quality and productivity?
A: Those two goals, quality and productivity, are tricky to balance. Since we are so deeply involved in the outputs of the quality team, we focus a lot on defects. When there are defects, the training team steps in to provide additional training and coaching to close the gap and eliminate the source of the defect where we can. So, in our training around quality, we train our researchers to double and triple check their work and take their time.
Meanwhile, if an individual or team is underperforming or not meeting productivity measures, we work with them individually to observe and offer tips, advice, and feedback. Furthermore, if we are seeing a common defect arise, we will look for the root cause to determine if it was people, where we would then find a solution to ensure the defect is not made again. Or outside forces causing the defect and learn to adapt to the change.
In a nutshell, the training team is here to support the balance, so we can get as close to perfect as we can, while at the same time hitting productivity marks.
Q: Where does the concept of a ‘learning organization’ fit into your training approach?
A: Our ultimate vision as a training team is to create a learning organization. It is shown that 20-30% of actual learning happens through training, and 70% is informal learning. These are the conversations, real-time feedback, and the gathering and sharing of information that take place over time. The process of formal ‘organizational learning’ is to gather knowledge and share it more effectively–making sure everyone has access to the knowledge. For example, we work with people who are performing at a high level, so we can learn their habits and share those tips with the people who are struggling. Sharing best work practices is part of how we encourage learning across the organization. This learning organization model, where everyone takes responsibility for their own learning, is in a constant process of learning, and is open to share that learning. This is where we are headed.
At Wholesale Screening Solutions, we understand that the quality of our work has a direct impact on people’s lives. As such, training and learning are critical to success. Stay tuned as we continue this journey.