What results have you seen so far?
Salnoske: We ran a couple of pilot groups last year with a smaller number of people--six or so in one program, and about 10 in the other. The initial feedback, from the participants as well as their managers and customers, was all extremely positive.
The participants went in with some skepticism but came out impressed. There's always 'I like this' and 'I don't like that' feedback, but on the whole, they felt it was time well-spent, that the material was relevant, and that they could go and apply it immediately.
Managers were also positive. They also probably went into it not quite knowing what to expect but were happy with what they saw.
The most positive results came from the customers--the business. They saw a change in style, communications and overall capability.
Initially we didn't really communicate with the business about what we were doing. When we did, it put everything in context for them. We actually decided coming out of that, that we'd communicate in advance that people are about to go through this program and what they should expect to see coming out of it, so we'll do a better job of setting expectations and explaining what we're doing.
Why not communicate up front?
Salnoske: We just didn't really think of it. It wasn't the kind of thing where we said, 'Let's not tell the users.'
We viewed it as an internal program; we don't typically tell the business if we're sending someone out for a week's worth of technical training. But we learned our lesson, so now we're proactively communicating.
Now you have to deal with the planned Merck merger and integration. Will the training continue after the deal closes?
Salnoske: It's too early to say for sure. We've certainly had discussions with our counterparts at Merck. They're aware of the program, but in terms of how much of it gets picked up and adopted by the combined company after the closing of the merger, it's too early to say.