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Learning paths help guide employees at HK

January 24, 2017

By Kathie M. Rotz, CPTM, Director of Learning

Any professional graduating with a bachelor’s degree is coming out of college with technical knowledge. However, is it enough for the industry in which they are working? As accountants, our employees are taught audit, tax, and accounting theory and application during college. However, we do not hire one person for all three disciplines. We hire employees to focus in one of these disciplines to eventually become an expert. Therefore, training is a necessary component for all employees’ growth – new or seasoned.

The younger generation of employees is credited for wanting a learning plan or path available to them. In reality, all generations appreciate a learning path. There is a benefit to looking at a map, choosing your direction, and understanding the purpose. So, where does a company start in creating a learning path?

A full training curriculum will include technical, technology and soft skill learning opportunities. Technical skills are related to duties within a position. Technology skills are related to computer and software tools. Soft skills are personal and people skills such as time management, communication, conflict resolution and leadership. These opportunities could be live classes, online learning tools, quick reference guides, and/or on-demand support and coaching.

While creating our technical paths we consider all types of learning opportunities and all learning styles. Our current learning path template is in the shape of a pyramid. The pyramid has five levels with the starting point at the base of the pyramid and working up. At the base is “foundations.” This level could take three to five years to complete and master. On top of foundations are “advanced, content focus, supervisor and leadership.” Details of each level include:


  • New Hire Orientation (1.5 days)
  • Structured department classes
  • Internal live classes (soft skills, technology)
  • Online courses and tools
  • Department mentor
  • Learning ladder tasks


  • Structured department advanced-level classes
  • Trainer of foundations classes
  • Online courses and tools
  • Be a mentor

Content Focus

  • Specialize in a niche (such as estate planning, 401(k) audits, event planning, etc.)
  • Attend a conference yearly related to your niche
  • Provide training to the firm related to your niche
  • Study to become certified


  • Supervise projects
  • Supervise people/project team
  • Attend internal leadership classes


  • Attend external Leadership Academy
  • Understand the entire firm and all services
  • Promote to a leadership position within the firm

Within this pyramid are a variety of tools available to every employee. Some tools are custom created to support our firm. For example, learning ladders are a visual list of duties expected to be completed within each position. Attached to each task is the documentation to successfully complete the task.

Each department customizes their pyramid and learning tools according to their needs. For example, the training team hosts multiple Adobe classes (Adobe for Tax, Adobe for Accounting, Adobe for Admins). Each class has similar content and examples related to the department’s needs and experiences.

These learning tools are designed to be fluent and flexible. All tools are a template to be grown and expanded within each department and are a starting point for all learners.

Facilitating these learning tools requires a partnership between the corporate trainer and a technical trainer for content creation and training employees.

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