Melissa Strong Aircall
Training & Learning

L&D in a Hybrid World: Aircall’s 4 Tips for Upscaling Manager Training to Drive Growth

At the moment, a lot of L&D leaders are supporting a rise in new hires within their organizations. Scaling this support is a fantastic opportunity to welcome people and help them hit the ground running–but in our new hybrid world it also involves some challenges.

How do you keep your onboarding as fresh and exciting as it was in the early days of your organization? And how can you upscale your training programs for key cohorts of learners, such as incoming managers? 

In my latest collaborative learning conversation, I had the pleasure of speaking to Missy Strong, Global Learning & Development Partner at Aircall, about how she’s upscaling her manager program and developing a learning roadmap for the world of hybrid work.

Read on to hear more about four pro tips from Missy and her team!

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40 new hires per month: why scaling onboarding is so critical

A growing player in the technology software sector, Aircall is a cloud-based telephony VoIP system that empowers conversations between business professionals. And according to Missy, Aircall is scaling like crazy right now.

“We're in an environment that's accelerating super fast,” she says. “There's a lot of growth headed our way, and we have a couple of challenges to overcome in 2022.”

“Our learning and development team has just celebrated our one-year anniversary,” she says. “I'm so honored and pleased to be a part of this team because we've really done some amazing things.”

One of the biggest challenges for Missy and her team? Aircall’s swift hiring pace. “We’re hiring around 20 new Aircallees every two weeks, including incoming managers,” Missy says. “We have a lot of expectations to make sure they’re onboarded in an efficient, scalable, and fun way. We also need to stay with them throughout their adventure and ensure that they are able to grow.”

As Missy explains, L&D teams are entering an era where people want to upskill from within and support their colleagues in their own learning journeys. “One of the most amazing benefits that we're able to utilize is 360Learning, which helps us to centralize our training resources, make that connection for collaborative learning, and create a strong community together.”

Melissa Strong Aircall

This makes it critical for the L&D team to have a single source of truth for new arrivals to get accurate information, so that people feel prepared for their adventure at Aircall. And because Aircall is welcoming so many new Aircallees, they also have a lot of people moving into management as their teams grow.

So, how are Missy and her team scaling their manager training program to help fuel this growth?

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Aircall’s 4 expert tips for scaling a manager training program

In addition to welcoming experienced managers, Aircall is also supporting people who may not have managed teams before. As Missy explains, this can lead to some steep learning curves.

“Now, you're suddenly equipped with having to learn how to hire the right people,” she says. “You have to develop people to learn how to maintain a team, and your team is all over the world because we're in the world of remote or hybrid working.”

So, how can her team scale their manager training program to support these new managers? First up, they start by connecting new managers with experienced ones.

1. Connect managers with different levels of experience 

At Aircall, a lot of the L&D team’s work is around decentralizing the learning system so everybody is able to participate in learning and collaboration. This also helps break down silos of communication that can arise as companies grow.

For Missy and her team, there are also some practical considerations. “As we're located in eight different countries and time zones, we need to be 100% sure that everybody's starting on the same page. They need to know exactly where they can go from here.”

And because there are a lot of different managers at Aircall ranging from the newly promoted up to the VP level, having a community of different levels of experience is a huge asset.

“That's the greatest thing about Aircall,” she says, “we have this community with all these different types of experience levels and backgrounds which allows us to work in a very fun kind of way.”

We have this community with all these different types of experience levels and backgrounds which allows us to work in a very fun kind of way.

2. Provide new managers with the right foundational skills training

Next, it’s really important that when a manager first starts at Aircall, they truly understand what it means to be an Aircall Manager. “What are the values that we want you to embody?” says Missy. “What fundamental skills do we want you to have, and then continue to grow over time?”

Right off the bat, Aircall’s new managers are coming in and having a welcome session with the L&D team, including an introduction to core tools and processes, and a rundown of who they can speak to if they need any information. 

Next up, Missy and her team add a little variety into the mix.

Related: The 360Learning Onboarding Playbook

3. Let managers choose their own learning adventure

“From here,” explains Missy, “it’s about allowing new managers to choose their own adventure. How do they like to be supported, knowing that managers are also super busy and time is really of the essence? It’s important for me and for Aircall to provide those different options.”

These options can include coaching, upskilling through courses or digital tools, or community learning where you can connect with your peers to share difficulties, insights, and tips. 

“We really try to build this community experience and offer a multitude of ways so that a manager can choose between different options. We want them to know what works for them, and also what is going to help them to be successful.”

4. Facilitate communities of peer learning by creating space for questions

Missy and the L&D team focus on recurring themes that come up again and again with new managers, and break those down into groups that are organized by region. Then, they make room for managers to share insights with each other on these topics.

“Some common topics that often come up are: How do I communicate effectively? How can I be a good coach? How can I manage my remote team? What are the best practices?”

The L&D team also tries to create the right opportunities for their managers to meet in person, connect with each other on a different level, and share in casual conversation solutions to problems that might come up.

“That's the connection we’re trying to create. It’s also what we want to achieve at Aircall with collaborative learning, and this is what we're doing every day.”

Aircall’s strategy for upscaling its manager training program is a great example of the advantages of collaborative learning. By connecting new managers with experienced managers they are able to create and deliver learning content that ramps up new hire skills at pace while capturing and celebrating Aircall’s distinctive company culture. 

So, those are Missy’s four tips for upscaling Aircall’s manager training program. But how does the L&D team know they are successfully supporting new managers in a way that facilitates the company's hypergrowth?

Related: Your Manager Training Wasn’t Working Before–Now It’s Really in Trouble

That's the connection we’re trying to create. It’s also what we want to achieve at Aircall with collaborative learning, and this is what we're doing every day.

Measuring the impact of Aircall’s manager training program

For Missy and her team, the most important aspect of any learning initiative is how the learner can apply it in their day-to-day job.

“There are some standardized KPIs that we use in the learning and development world, such as satisfaction rate,” she says. “You can always do post-event or post-learning surveys to collect that qualitative feedback.”

“And then we can use analytics and metrics in our dashboard with 360Learning, which is great. It lets us see engagement rates and course completion rates, which are all obviously really important.”

This allows the L&D team to take what they have learned and apply it to see if the team is getting better results, or if they have achieved a better score on their eNPS survey. 

“This year,” Missy says, “I'm really looking forward to being able to connect learning with upscaling or rescaling, especially with some more complex product and tech topics.”

When Missy speaks to, gives advice, or coaches managers on how they can use what they are learning, a really quick way to measure the success is for the manager to release the learning with their team and see how people are taking what they learned and applying it to their role. “It's really about being together and sharing in that aspect too and that really can show you a quick result.”

 

Related: 3 Data-Based Ways to Prove Training ROI (+ Free Training ROI Calculator)

We can use analytics and metrics in our dashboard with 360Learning, which is great. It lets us see engagement rates and course completion rates, which are all obviously really important.

A big thank you to Missy for sharing her insights with us! 

For more practical tips on driving growth with manager training, check out Tricon Residential’s three-step playbook for nurturing the next generation of company leaders, and Disney Media Entertainment and Distribution’s four-step mentor circle program.

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