How LinkedIn Learning Keeps These "On-the-Go" Consultants Connected and Engaged

November 12, 2018

See M2 Strategy's experience with LinkedIn Learning.

When the bulk of a business’s employees are consultants who spend their days at other organizations, it can be challenging for management to keep them feeling connected to the mothership.

For M2 Strategy, a 47-person Virginia-based technology and management consulting firm, building a mentorship program that gives employees a clear path for growth is key to creating and maintaining that connection.

“Our people are at client sites, day-in and day-out, and not in front of us,” said M2 Managing Director Steven Zatarga. “It is critical that we keep in touch with them, build a strong culture and make sure they are engaged and growing. That’s a top priority for us.”

Yes, a mentorship program that helps employees along their career paths is great; but a learning platform is needed for employees to realize that growth. Which is why, after researching multiple options, M2 invested in LinkedIn Learning 18 months ago.

The results – 100% activation on the platform, with the average employee using it for two hours a month. That’s largely because of the mentorship program that keeps employees engaged as they develop their skills.

“LinkedIn Learning is always a part of my conversations with my mentor,” Management Consultant Emily Brubaker said. “It’s an awesome experience.”

The Missing Piece of M2 Management’s Mentorship Program – A Learning Platform

The cornerstone to M2’s employee engagement philosophy is its mentorship program, called Mentorship, Advancement and Performance (MAP). The 4-year-old program embeds mentorship into its company culture, providing employees a clear path for growth.

As part of MAP, each employee is given quarterly goals that are tracked over time, with mentors provide feedback and guidance. The system creates accountability and also makes each employee’s growth a priority.

What was originally missing from MAP was a learning platform where employees could learn the skills they needed to accomplish their goals.

So, about two years ago, a committee formed by M2’s management team began to look at different learning platforms. Members did demos of each platform and put together lists of pros-and-cons.

They had a small group test the LinkedIn Learning platform – and were impressed.

“They came back and said the courses were challenging, the platform was user-friendly and it was a really positive experience overall,” Committee Member Alaina Groat said. “The team especially liked the expertise of the instructors and the fact that so many new courses were being added all the time.”

That made the decision easy – invest in LinkedIn Learning for the organization.

“Our people needed to be able to learn at their own pace, do it online or via mobile-apps, and have access to a wide variety of courses,” Zatarga said. “LinkedIn Learning was the perfect fit for us. In addition to meeting all those other needs, we’ve recruited a lot of our employees through LinkedIn, so we knew our employees would be comfortable with the platform right away.”

The Employee Reaction: Increased Confidence That Anything Can Be Learned

Employees at M2 are realizing the platform can help them learn virtually anything, from something specific to complete a project to a soft skill needed to advance their career.

“It universally fit all my needs,” says Management Consultant Taryss Mandt. “I’ve taken classes on interview tips, time management, and Microsoft Excel. The time management one was great, it taught me how to block time and the importance of taking downtime. It gave me insight into how to actually be more efficient.”

Brubaker agreed.

“For example, I was tasked with creating a new project schedule, and so I wanted to learn about the different scheduling systems there were out there,” she said. “LinkedIn Learning was easy to search and I found exactly what I needed.”

That’s created exactly what M2 Management wanted LinkedIn Learning and MAP to create: an employee base that feels like it can grow within the organization.

There’s no better example of that than one of the people leading the program, Zatarga. He himself worked as a Managing Partner in the hospitality industry for years until he came into his new role at M2 Strategy in January – and he’s used LinkedIn Learning himself to aide in that transition.

“That’s a big change, coming from opening and running all operations for high-end hospitality establishments with hundreds of employees, to now running operations for a consulting firm. I needed to know how to have different kinds of conversations here that related to the consulting industry,” he said. “LinkedIn Learning helped me understand how to coach the executive team at M2 and it's been an asset I regularly utilize.”

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