Enabling Your Workers to be Trainers

In 2007 Iron Mountain (records  management company) was suffering from over-expansion (it had acquired 250 companies in 10+ years) and needed a way to get everyone performing in a similar manner. Training started with the drivers and couriers since they were closest to the customer and, after designing a curriculum, the training was implemented via a peer-trainer-coach approach.


Frontline employees have to apply and pass an interview for the training-coach positions. These positions are in addition to their “regular” jobs (although they do get additional pay).  Once chosen, coaches spend a week in training in Atlanta GA learning everything from lift-gate operation to how to speak with customers.


By the end of 2013 Iron Mountain had 400 certified coaches; coaches must recertify each year. Some of the organizational benefits realized since the inception of the peer-trainer-coach approach:

  •  Turnover has fallen 15%
  •  Worker-compensation claims dropped 4.5 million in the first year
  •  Document scanning errors have dropped 85% from their peak
  •  35 coaches have been promoted in their “regular” roles


TD Commentary: There are so many win-win outcomes from this case study.  First, using peers as trainers benefits the credibility of the trainer and the training curriculum. Second, using workers who have volunteered to become trainers means you have passionate trainers. And third, this approach is hugely cost effective – in addition to the fact that the trainer-coaches receive a “bonus” for training (not a salary), there is no way any organization would have a “workforce” of 400 trainers. Kudos to Stacy Henry, Director of Learning, and her team for coming up with this ingenious approach to getting training to the front line in an economical and expedient way.


Source: November 2013