Fresh off a record-setting year in terms of revenue, Lithium Technologies was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in May last year.
The deal helped Lithium accelerate the rollout of its digital customer experience software for enterprises — and jump-start a makeover of its new hire training experience.
“Vista Equity Partners brings a certain discipline to the hiring and training process,” said Owen Holt, who joined Lithium’s Austin team to head its new training initiative. “Lithium is at a point of transformation, and training will play a critical role in our future success.”
The core of Lithium’s new onboarding program is six weeks long with a five-week, activity-based boot camp and continued development post graduation. Holt said specific metrics and tests along the way ensure Lithium’s employees will be successful upon graduation.
We caught up with him to learn more about the program.
What first attracted you to Lithium?
I’ve been in the learning and development space for more than 25 years. The past 13, I’ve spent driving project and business transformation programs for Dell. I was looking to get back into more of a training leadership role. When I discovered Lithium, they were embarking on a journey to bring a high degree of focus and discipline to the onboarding and professional development processes.
Before the new boot camps, what was Lithium's onboarding experience like?
There was an hour-long introduction to our company and our history, an hour-long systems and access overview with our IT group and 90 minutes with our HR benefits specialist. Beyond those three formal programs, which we still hold, new hires learned everything else on the job alongside mentors.
Lithium is at a point of transformation, and training will play a critical role in our future success.”
Why the boot camp approach?
The idea is that you recruit based on talent and then provide the experience through these immersive boot camps. If you’ve correctly identified talent in your new hires, they can achieve the same success as a more experienced hire because you’ve provided them with the opportunity to develop their abilities. Everything is activity based and aimed toward meaningful business metric improvement.
What preparations went into launching the first bootcamp?
All of our boot camps begin with an impact map that is driven by key business results identified by the organizational leadership team. The results are broken down into critical on-the-job behaviors, which are further split into key learning objectives. From there, we identify the right subject matter experts and teach them how to “reverse engineer” course content.
What makes Lithium's training experience different than at other companies?
five weeks of deep, activity-based, outcome-focused training makes a great springboard for success. I’m also working on a continuous development program that will rely heavily on the socialization of good content. We will be leveraging our community to identify and promote quality training content. I don’t know of any other companies currently taking a similar social approach to learning as we are.
What are some key moments during the five weeks?
We hold a scenario-based midterm and a final that typically takes the form of a client or potential customer meeting. They have to do their research and be well prepared for these exams to pass. Additionally, they are rated by the various content facilitators on other levels of participation, engagement and general attitude. If they can’t meet the measures, they likely won’t be successful in the role.
What have the major takeaways been from leadership and the attendees?
Leadership commitment is critical for success, and we are fortunate to have it here. It takes their input to define the right business metrics and behaviors. It takes their support to have access to the right subject matter experts to design and deliver the training content. It takes their involvement to administer and grade the midterms and finals, and they have to be there to support the graduates as they transition from the boot camp to the job.
A five week face-to-face program that often involves international participants is more than just a logistical challenge, it can be a financial one as well. We believe that investing in our people is an investment that pays off. We are seeing this as our boot camp participants graduate to their roles and hit the target metrics they’ve been given.