Silicon Valley is undoubtedly enjoying time in the limelight right now. The area has become synonymous with technology, innovation, and pioneering companies. Millennials are flocking to these enterprises as they become the premier places to work in the world. From search engines to apps and even products like watches, it seems like tech companies in Northern California are on the cusp of everything new and exciting. That innovative spirit certainly extends to their employee management, and in particular how they train employees.
Perhaps no company is a better example of the shine of Silicon Valley than Google.
Google has become a worldwide phenomenon that consumes so many facets of most of our daily lives. At the same time as Google is leading the way in its products and services, it’s also an innovator in terms of how it sources, treats and trains employees. The Google corporate culture has garnered a tremendous amount of attention, as the company’s employees report being extremely satisfied with the perks, the environment and the distinctive way Google does business.
Google distinction certainly extends to their employee learning and development initiatives. One, in particular, that’s caught our eye is dubbed “Googler to Googler.”
Teaching Employees to Teach One Another
It’s a simpler concept than what it may initially sound like.
Fast Company profiled Google’s learning program in which employees teach one another. The program is officially called Googler to Googler, and it’s designed to bring together employees from various backgrounds, skill sets and departments and then have them teach one another.
The roles employees are fulfilling would be typically be undertaken by a member of the HR team, or perhaps an outside instructor.
Each class taught as part of the Googler to Googler program is designed by a company employee. Classes can range from the core curriculum, which is what you would expect to find in terms of employee training, such as management and public speaking skills, to the more unusual classes, like kickboxing.
Employees volunteer to teach courses, and these employee-teachers represent a large chunk of the learning and development options offered by Google.
Fast Company cites some reasons Google uses this method to teach employees, and it’s not all about cost savings. Reasons include:
- Promoting a culture of learning: Creating and cultivating a culture of learning is something we focus on a great deal at eLeaP. As LMS developers we understand the importance of corporate training and education, and there’s often a sense of inconsistency or a lack of support for business learning initiatives. The ultimate way to alleviate these issues is through a culture of learning, and that’s exactly what Googler to Googler strives for. This approach isn’t just telling employees to appreciate learning and development—it’s getting them involved in a first-hand way that’s going to make them feel more excited, more involved and more engaged. It’s unique that Google goes beyond the typical corporate training coursework with this program. Yes, the core curriculum is important, but by offering all sorts of varied classes that really don’t have anything directly to do with the workplace, it’s promoting the idea of continual learning for learning’s sake.
- Employees are empowered through this program—not just through the learning process, but through the teaching. By offering employees the opportunity to become an expert in their area, you’re giving them the ability to not only strengthen their knowledge and skills, but also to feel as if they’re making a difference in the company. This boosts the culture of learning, as well as employee engagement and morale.
- The collaborative element of Googler to Googler fosters the idea of innovation and free, creative thinking, which are the cornerstones of Google as a company. By bringing employees together in a peer-to-peer setting there’s the opportunity to explore new possibilities, serve as one another’s sounding boards and add a whole new aspect of collaboration and inventiveness to the training process.
- Feedback from employees is a vital part of Googler to Googler, in the sense that they’re really determining the course learning and development will take. They’re not only coming up with the ideas for the courses, but they’re also completely designing the structure and content.
How Any Business Can Model Training After Google
Even if you’re not a multi-billion dollar company, there are a lot of aspects to admire and emulate with the Googler to Googler program.
Through the use of a learning management system, you can allow employees to work with you to drive learning and development. Taking on a framework that’s similar to Googler to Googler is also an excellent way to cross-train employees.
Here are a few ideas:
- Position the development of training content as a reward. Allow high performing employees to work alongside business leaders to develop learning and training for fellow employees.
- Include feedback as an important component of training. Incorporate learner feedback within your learning management system so you can get an idea of what employees not only find useful, but also what they would find interesting as part of the learning process.
- Pair e-Learning with in-person learning. By leveraging a combination of technology and traditional classroom training your employees will enjoy an abundance of opportunities to interact with one another and learn on a deeper level.
- Let your employees guide their learning experience. Offer a variety of online training courses and let employees decide which options they will take, and which ones most interest them.
- Work with department leaders to develop cross-training that can be offered through a learning management system.
- Collaboration doesn’t just have to happen during in-person training. When creating online training add features for collaboration where employees can work together to solve problems or come to new and inventive solutions for workplace scenarios.
- Offer employees the opportunity to be discussion leaders in an online setting, for example in a webinar or forum. If you operate a small business, you can rotate opportunities for employees to guide conversations and training in the way they think is best.
Do you like the idea of Googler to Googler and putting more components of learning and development into the control of employees? Let us know your thoughts and how you see something like this working within your own business.