I had never taught a group of people before that position, but I was a voracious student, and after I started teaching I discovered that I loved it in a way that I was born to love it. Loving my position was an excellent opportunity in more ways than one--not only did I have lots of people to train, I had lots of people to train alone. The day shift of training instructors had two instructors and an average of 25 people in classes on any given day; I was the only instructor on the night shift and had an average of 75. I learned to improve my time management skills in a hurry, not to mention my patience and my ability to develop talent within the groups that I taught to help teach each other.
Bass Pro had three levels of training during that time in the 90's:
- Order Training: A 3-week course with an introduction to call centers (many new hires were new to the industry) and tutorial, lecture, and practical application of taking calls around sending customers free catalogs and placing orders for them
- Non-Order Training: A 1-week course that the employee completed after having 60 to 90 days of experience in order training with their teams on the phones. Applications involved taking problem calls and finding lost orders for customers
- Specialty Training: A 1-week course that the employee completed after having 60 to 90 additional days of order training and 60 to 90 initial days of non-order training. Applications included taking Australia and New Zealand orders, and processing sports licensing for select states across the country
When I first began teaching, I taught from a list of topics that the training department had found appropriate for that level of teaching and conveyed the topics in the order suggested because it "had always been done that way." After a few sessions of training and playing with the order a little bit, I was able to come up with a curriculum that would not only cover the topics needed but enabled the student to learn the most effectively for what was being covered. Over time, I was able to convince my manager and the day training staff to utilize this curriculum so that training would remain consistent across the board and so that if schedules required, students could take a class during the day for one day and be taught the same information that they would have been taught in the night class. Over the course of my tenure at Bass Pro I developed similar standard curriculums for the non-order and specialty sessions, as well as assisting the quality assurance department with reviewing calls of agents for supervisors.
Bass Pro was my favorite work experience of any that I've had in my career. I was empowered to make changes to improve the experience of those in my care, as well as encouraged to utilize my creativity to improve the performance of everyone, regardless of whether they had been trained by me or not. I worked independently since the rest of the training staff, management staff, and quality assurance staff worked during the day, and I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of teaching because of the wide variety of things that it taught me as a person. I had to leave Bass Pro due to financial reasons (my mother had been recently ill and I needed to find a job with greater compensation, which I was not able to gain, even upon inquiry at Bass Pro), but I believe the company and the position contributed the most to my growth above any of the employers that I had the privilege of working for.
In my next post I will explore my higher education (beyond high school) and how it contributed to my experience as a manager and communicator.