Business 101

Zinner & Co. LLP had
been facing a staffing
crunch for several years, and Robin Baum knew it was
time to do something about

“One of our senior managers came to us and said we
needed to implement a formal training course to bring
employees up as quickly as
we could,” says Baum, managing partner at the accounting, tax and wealth management consulting firm.

Changes in the accounting
field, such as new education
requirements and the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, were
making it increasingly difficult to recruit employees. So
the company created “Zinner
University” to grow its own
employees up through the

“A training program makes
people feel like they are
valuable members of the
company,” Baum says.

To develop the training program, Baum solicited feedback from managers as to
what to include and gathered
information from exit interviews with former employees and feedback from
recent hires.

“They can look back and
say, ‘If you had spent more
time with me on this
process, I would have been
able to be more effective,’”
Baum says.

That information was then
used to create a program
that covered areas including
learning the Zinner culture
and acquiring technical skills
and expertise in various
areas, then putting academic
knowledge into practice.

“If you do a concentrated
amount of training and do
not follow up with the ability
to apply what you learned,
someone retains only what
they can apply and continue
to use,” Baum says. “We
were originally going to
spend two weeks and teach
them everything but found
that they only retained what
they put to use within the
month after training. We’ve
broken it into more manageable segments so that prior
to getting client assignments,
we make sure that element
of training is complete. You
have a better retention rate
by doing so.”

And throughout the
process, Baum keeps everyone involved.

“We do a monthly staff
meeting and talk about the
program,” Baum says. “A lot
of times, if people feel
they’re not being included in
something they should be, it
can cause a breakdown in

The results of Zinner
University have benefited the
company in more ways than
one. In addition to training
employees capable of moving up the ladder, it turns
trainees into trainers who
can move the program forward.

“It eases the burden that
one person isn’t accountable
for training within that area,”
Baum says. “It also gives
people a level of participation and recognition that
they are somebody other
people go to for information.
It’s engaging for not only
those who are training but
the participants because in a
short period of time, they
can become the trainer.”

Baum says for a training
program to succeed, you
have to be committed to
investing the time, effort and
resources it takes to make it
an ongoing venture.

“Recognize that a training
program is not close-ended,
it is something that should
continue and be part of the
culture,” she says. “Getting
people engaged and
enthused is the key to making a program part of your
culture. Enthusiasm is contagious, and the more people
that you have invested in the
program, the greater the success factor

A leader’s role in corporate training

When you establish a corporate training program, it’s important that you support it, says
Don Zinner, a partner at Zinner &
Co. LLP.

“We support the people in
charge, make sure they are
doing what they set out to do
and follow up on that,” Zinner
says. “We set the tone for the
program. If we don’t set the tone
or support it, it’s doomed for

Support a training program by
getting involved, communicating and getting feedback from
those involved to see what the
positives and negatives are.

“It’s one-on-one conversations
with people going through the
program and making sure we
are getting the commitment
from them, and then the people
who are doing the teaching,”
Zinner says. “Make sure the program is ingrained into the company culture and find out if there
are any problems with it.”

Zinner says it’s important to
keep tabs on the goals of the
training program, so that you
are reaching these within a certain time frame and that you are
staying on track.

“Getting feedback is important
— from the supervisors and
employees,” he says. “Make
sure there is continued communication and commitment to the

HOW TO REACH: Zinner & Co. LLP, (216) 831-0733 or