This case study explores how Kineo reduced the time to competency
from a 2.5 day workshop to a one hour e-learning program and a one
day workshop program, while engaging managers and building their
interviewing skills in the process.
How does a 255,000 person organization recognized by Fortune
Magazine as a Worlds Most Admired Company maintain a world-class
workforce? Through blended learning, and with help from Kineo.
ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing
award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and
career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school
districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world.
In 2008, ARAMARK conducted an in-depth analysis to define the
critical leadership competencies needed to maintain and grow the
quality of their organization. After rolling these competencies out
to employees in 2009, ARAMARK set its sights on integrating these
competencies into the interviewing process. ARAMARK recognized that
experience and skills were only part of the equation for success at
the company and that the intangibles embodied by their competency
model were even more important.
He seems like a great guy or I think Id really enjoy working with
him isnt the kind of feedback that can help you evaluate whether
someone has the business acumen to run a large facility. ARAMARK
needed a common language to evaluate internal and external
candidates, something that would objectively map back to these
leadership competencies and to the companys overall view of talent
ARAMARKs Global Talent Management group, led by Ash Hanson,
associate vice president of learning and development, formulated a
training plan to build the skills of hiring managers in order to
better integrate competencies into the interviewing process.
ARAMARK chose Kineo to lead the blended design of the program and
to develop the e-learning and instructor-led materials.
Working across segments
ARAMARK is a large, diverse organization serving 15 industries
across the United States. Each business operates in a unique
business climate and is guided by a distinctive management
philosophy. Individual managers must account for local market
conditions and modify content and approaches based on their own
individual business needs.
The challenge was to develop an approach to training managers in
hiring skills that would be generic enough to work across the
various segments of the business, but specific enough to equip
managers within business segments and geographies to apply their
new skills to address their specific needs.
ARAMARK was also fairly new to e-learning on the whole, with some
e-learning successes here and there, but also some resistance.
Previous e-learning had been mostly compliance-based and people
tended to see it as a means to an end, not an element of their own
In packaging the piece, ARAMARK wanted to be sure that this
distinction was clearso that employees could see the value of the
program and get something useful out of it.
Enter a blended solution
Kineo VP of Learning Design Cammy Bean worked closely with the
ARAMARK team to create a framework that provided a flexible and
sustainable approach no matter where the program would be rolled
out. The solution takes a blended approach, with e-learning used as
the pre-work for a one-day instructor-led workshop. The e-learning
introduces the core concepts of the five-step competency
interviewing process, while the workshop focuses on role-plays to
provide participants the critical practice needed to put the
process in action.
She explains: "We wanted the e-learning to focus on the basic
definitions and provide some realistic examples of the interviewing
process in action. This approach allowed us to jump more quickly
into the role-plays in the live workshop, giving participants more
practice and opportunity for mastery."
Tiffany Esposito, ARAMARKs director of learning and organizational
development, and team leader on this project, says of Kineos design
approach: "The e-learning gave participants a solid foundation
before they came to the workshop. By the time we got to the
workshops, they were ready to actively role play and make the
content their own."
Creating a foundation through e-learning
The e-learning pre-work is approximately 70 minutes, and is
mandatory before attending the workshop. The solution uses a
conversational approach to engage learners and challenge them to
consider the approach they used in their most recent interviews.
Through asking reflective questions, the learners connect more
closely with past experiences to make the learning experience
stickier and more relevant.
The program introduces each of the five steps of the interviewing
process through interactive scenarios that model best practices and
involve the learner by having them guide the process forward. Kineo
animated still photos with audio narration of both the interviewer
and the job candidate so the learner can hear how an actual
competency-based interview should go. This low-bandwidth approach
meant the program could deliver across ARAMARKs wide technology
At key moments in the sample interview, the simulated interview
program asks the learner to help the interviewer decide the right
way forward. It identifies key points in the interview process in
which interviewees tended to make mistakes. At these moments, the
program stops the sample interview and asks the question: What
should Sarah, the interviewer, ask next? Each possible answer
represented a plausible response, often exemplifying the most
common mistakes people tend to make.
This design approach prepares the learner for the workshop session
where theyll spend significant time practicing the interview
themselves. As the e-learning wraps up, the learner is asked to
consider a current opening or key position on their team and to
identify the critical competencies for success in that role.
Each learner brings this homework to the workshop and starts the
process of taking the general concepts covered in the e-learning
and making them actionable through workshop activities. This gives
the e-learning a strong call to action that connects with the
workshop, and of course with the learners day job.
Providing practice through live workshop
Having gone through the e-learning, all attendees arrive at the
workshop with a solid foundation of the interview process. Now they
have the chance to practice these skills through live role-play
Kineos design team worked closely with ARAMARKs experienced
facilitators to design the workshop and create the accompanying
materials. During the workshop, the facilitator reviews key
concepts with the group to encourage retention and provides an
active forum for discussion. Learners move back and forth from role
plays that provide practice and skill building to exercises that
give space for introspection about past interviews and future
Role plays are done in groups of three, with three separate
opportunities for extended practice. Each participant gets to play
the role of interviewer, interviewee and observer. This approach
allows participants to practice the skills and learn through the
process of observing and providing feedback.
Piloting and refining
The entire curriculum was created over a period of three months,
with an initial pilot program in June 2010 and a second pilot
session at the end of August. ARAMARK selected a group of managers
to participate in the first drafts of the e-learning and classroom
The Kineo design team took part in the live sessions as objective
observers, taking notes on participant responses and questions.
After the program, Kineo made adjustments to the curriculum to
accommodate feedback and improve classroom flow and delivery.
Steve Lowenthal, Kineos US CEO, notes, "Having the opportunity to
review the workshops in action was a key part of our design
process. Seeing how real workshop participants reacted to the
exercises gave us important feedback and helped us see what was
working and where changes were needed."
Feedback so far?
Kineos designers worked closely with ARAMARK subject matter experts
to create a highly interactive learning experience which helps
learners practice the concepts put forth in the e-learning and the
practical application started in the e-learning scenarios.
The whole package has been designed and documented in detail to
allow for a consistent and scalable roll-out across all of ARAMARK.
The first sessions officially kicked off in early 2011. In many
businesses and geographies the program is integrated into new
manager on-boarding activities that highlight the application of
the ARAMARK Leadership Competency Framework to specific Talent
Dale Wallace, Senior Director of Leadership Development at ARAMARK
says, "The program is a hit on all levels. This blended approach to
Interviewing Skills development has shortened the amount of time
spent in the classroom, while focusing that time on practice and
application. This is a stark contrast to the 2 day program we
used in the past. Additionally, evaluations show that people are
taking away actionable skills. ARAMARK is a very action-oriented
Wallace adds, "When we first rolled out the competency model people
got it and wanted to know more about how to use itthis program is
meeting that demand. Not only are we improving the interview
prowess of our managers, were also helping them improve their
overall understanding of talent management. Kineos project approach
and design expertise has helped all of us in the learning community
hone our skills too!"
ARAMARK has continued a gradual roll out of the program to specific
management teams. "We see ourselves as partners to ARAMARKs
Learning and Development team, notes Steve Lowenthal, and the
content doesnt just stop and go static." Kineo and ARAMARK will
continue to work closely to adjust content and fine-tune the
learning experience as additional learners go through the program.
Note: Contributed by Kineo