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Interviews
Office Snacks: Eric Grant

In our Office Snacks series we interview seasoned people and culture professionals to delve into their varied buffets of experience and come away with juicy insights and ideas.

Join us in our next installment below as Eric Grant—Senior Manager, L&D Operations—shares his insights with us.

Hi Eric! We’d love to get to know you a bit better, where are you based?

Brooklyn, NY.

How’d you get to where you are today?

Well, I followed my (now) wife to Brooklyn by way of Mexico City. I was there while taking a year off of work after I saved up from 8+ years of work. I had been in Chicago before that, working at Uber, and before that I was a remote L&D leader (before that was really a thing!) and traveling all over the world because I could. 

How does your typical day look, do you have a set routine?

Not a great routine other than trying to get a morning walk in before things start. No day is quite the same because of various meetings and deadlines, but I generally frontload meetings to the beginning part of my week and do more project work as it gets closer to Friday. Sunday afternoons are also a great time for projects.

All of this is depending on school schedule too. I’m getting my Masters in Analytics (Data Science) online, outside of work. All classes are structured differently so I feel like I recalibrate my schedule every semester.

How do you describe your job to others?

Before being laid off recently, I ran the learning program for a large customer service function. I tried to show that any time we invest in training agents helps both the business I’m working at and the customers we’re supporting.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

No question the best part are the teams I get to lead. They’re creative and determined people who work hard to create great training for our audiences. Every time I challenge them with an idea they are ready to challenge it right back or find ways to adapt what they’ve been doing to achieve great results.

We shouldn't just use data to prove the training ROI, we should also use data to help guide learners on the best path to learning a new skill, as well as the best method to deploy a training for a specific audience.

What’s the most challenging and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

There are several challenges—I was working in crypto and both its volatility, and the intense technological know-how it takes to approach this stuff, are a huge challenge for us. But I think the biggest was just helping our network find time for training, and this is a similar story across industries and organizations.

We want staff to handle customer contacts as soon as possible, and we know training takes away from that. For other workers, it’s just finding the time in their busy days.

You have to show people that it will be valuable to either take trainings, or have groups take trainings, and that is not easy, especially in fast-paced, high-growth environments (or when those environments experience hard downturns like the one we’re in now). 

The example is this—how do you present to Staffing teams that having agents take 30-60 minutes out of their busy day to take a Productivity training will not only yield back the production that those 30-60 minutes would have given that day, but yield higher production for the next three months after that?

How do you approach learning and development?

I like to think I take a data-focused approach. I have a few prevailing beliefs that dictate this approach—the first is that the best trainings are not the ones that you like the most (though I would like you to enjoy the experience), the best ones are the ones that make you better at a skill or your job. 

For this reason, I don’t use any customer satisfaction surveys in my trainings unless it’s pilot content. Instead, we focus on trying to show the change/improvement that’s come from them. 

The next belief is that every great training program of any kind (corporate, athletic, hobby, etc.) has to be individualized. This is not novel, but in the corporate setting it can be difficult.

Most L&D teams send out the same training to everyone. Why do they do that? Well it’s easier but they also probably lack the data they’d need to truly individualize. 

B2B content providers will come in and offer a big library and say they can help learners individualize through that catalog but we, as people, also lack some information on the best way and best content to learn from. 

We shouldn't just use data to prove the training ROI, we should also use data to help guide learners on the best path to learning a new skill, as well as the best method to deploy a training for a specific audience.

This means not just proving ROI (example of how here) but running experiments about the best method, best audience, and best deployment technique to maximize that ROI.

To be more specific, I think we should be training every person every day (bite-sized learning) instead of the traditional training model of rolling sessions/eLearnings out sporadically. But I have to prove that that would work and be more cost-effective.

What’s been your most successful initiative to date?

We ran a training aimed at helping agents solve customer queries on the first contact. Because we have so much data on how well agents are doing that, we were able to directly relate their work before training and after training (as well as compare those who had taken our training versus those who had not).

We could then annualize the savings by not having repeat tickets and compare that to the cost of the training. Our ROI was well over 10x. Great success for my team and for us to be able to show the value of what we do.

Which are your most-loved tools to help you with your job?

I’ve learned to love data, so my most-loved tools are the ones that help me aggregate, sort, query, etc… right now that’s Sheets at the most basic, and Looker and Snowflake. All great tools.

What’s your number one piece of advice for companies starting out with L&D?

If you’re just starting out, focus on onboarding new employees. Start your brand there. Record as much as you can so you have some starting data.

Do surveys to start to show that L&D is at least boosting confidence, but sell a vision to your business of proving business outcomes through training and then hunt down any piece of data you can get your hands on.

Lastly, and most importantly, what’s your favourite office (home or otherwise) snack?

Nothing will ever beat the first cup of coffee in the morning. Not a snack, I know, but totally worth mentioning. 

What’s your favorite office snack?

Work in People and Culture? Want to share your ideas?

Applications to be interviewed are open to anyone (yes anyone!) so don’t hesitate to fill in the form for an opportunity to share your knowledge and ideas.

By Finn Bartram