Many of us have experienced being chucked in at the deep end when we start a new job – the so-called sink-or-swim training approach. You arrive at your new desk (possibly virtual at the time of writing) and you’ve not even learnt the names of your colleagues before your inbox starts filling up with emails – one more ominously important-looking than the other.
There is, however, an important distinction between being thrown in and learning on the job. After all, most of us learn best by doing. With Sandberg’s structured guidelines and buddy system, we make it through our first newbie weeks stronger, wiser, infinitely more caffeinated and, most importantly, ready to take responsibility for the important work we do.
Hitting the ground running ?
At Sandberg, we believe that by training and supporting our new starters, we’re setting them up to be the best they can be – for us and for our clients. A full week (!) is set aside for induction and training. New starters are introduced to the translation industry as a whole and Sandberg’s position in it, as well as our vision and company values. They’re acquainted with their role and their team, their accounts and their clients. It’s a chance to get familiar with the computer-aided translation (CAT) tools they might be working with, explore the oddly named internal systems (Wookie?) and, not least, have a crack at learning their new colleagues’ names from the get-go.
Ivan Gechev, a Project Manager at our Varna office in Bulgaria, was a complete newcomer to project management and the translation industry when he started at Sandberg in 2019. The induction week helped him wrap his head around not only his own role, but also where he fitted within the structure of his team and where his team fitted within the company.
He says: “I remember being amazed by just how detailed and hands-on the training sessions were. For example, the session with Anu [our Managing Director] was key to introducing me to the informal and personal nature of our company culture.” An introduction to project management with team leader Mihaela Ikonomova prepared him for what his actual working day would look like. “Every single training session,” he says, “provided valuable information, whether on ISO standards, a variety of CAT tools or, for example, the intricacies of translator selection.”
Your buddy’s got your back ?
After the induction week, training continues in-team. “Buddies” and experienced colleagues are on hand to offer advice and guidance, and crucially, feedback. When you’re ready to deal with most aspects of your role independently, it can be nice to take a moment to bask in the sweet glory of mastering something new.
Yet in a fast-moving industry, the ability to be flexible and adapt quickly is key. That’s why we continue to train our employees and encourage them to learn more about special areas they might be particularly interested in, whether it be learning about search engine optimisation (SEO), improving their Icelandic or diving into one of the guidelines, for example on translation quality, from TAUS, a language data network.
The name of the game ?
Another term for this is Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Required by translation service standards that Sandberg complies with such as ISO 17100, CPD boils down to life-long learning. Maintaining or acquiring knowledge and skills, and developing personal qualities that aid your work, means that you’re engaging in CPD. What sets it apart from more formalised training is that it’s self-driven and systematically documented.
Acquiring and documenting our skills through CPD is good for several reasons. Not only is it an opportunity for our employees to keep learning and be challenged, they also become more agile and can help with other types of work not directly linked to their own role when there is a business need. But ultimately, we believe that well-trained and confident professionals are best equipped to provide the localisation solutions our clients are looking for.
Learning never stops ⚡️
Many a Sandberg heart has skipped a beat upon first receiving their Learning Units (LUs), the core of Sandberg’s training structure and basis for CPD. It’s a bit of a wedge, to say the least. If you thought that promotion might be more easily within reach by schmoozing down the pub with your manager, you might want to think again. Our company culture reflects our Nordic values: consultative management, a focus on teamwork, transparency and equal opportunities. This means sharing knowledge, giving feedback, embracing technology and training continuously.
The LUs cover several topics such as project management, linguistic competencies, client/supplier relationships and teamwork. These topics are divided into sub-sections detailing various skills. Completing a skill is done by documenting, either through team leader observations, case studies or written summaries, how you have come to learn the skill and how you have applied it in your daily work.
Laura Karkimo, who just started her seventh year in the company, has been using the LUs to document her professional development while working towards becoming a Senior Finnish Account Linguist. Had the LUs been a physical document, hers would probably be pretty tattered by now. “Having trained and been a ‘buddy’ to several team members over the years,” Laura says, “I can see how the learning units give structure to training. They’re vetted, formalised and objective, ensuring consistent and fair learning opportunities across the company.”
However, even after so many years, Laura finds that there’s no shortage of new things to learn or, indeed, relearn. She says: “Continuously updated LUs, for example information on feature announcements in CAT tools, help to ensure that I do my work in a way that is the most optimal now, not in the way that was the most optimal, say, four years ago.”
Training – what (or who) is it good for? ?
The short answer: absolutely everyone. Setting our starters up with an induction week and buddy system isn’t just out of the goodness of our hearts. Neither is our focus on CPD, or why we encourage our employees to keep working on their LUs. Quality translations are at the forefront of everything we do at Sandberg.
We believe that trained professionals are better at understanding what clients want and setting out with a clear idea of how to achieve that. They will, for example, know what and why reference materials are necessary and how to make the best use of them. They can effectively apply and navigate tools that aid our translations, such as glossaries, translation memories (TMs) and, if the client wants, machine translation (MT).
Investing in our employees is a way of investing in our clients – only the best results will keep our clients coming back to us.