BB&TOne of the nation's top financial holding companies, BB&T grew during one of the most challenging years in its recent history. Citing its commitment to employees, clients, and shareholders as the driving force for its success, BB&T grew loans by 8 percent and deposits by 14 percent last year, and was named one of the most admired companies in America in 2008 by Fortune magazine.
BB&T's learning function responded to the nation's economic crisis by teaching employees through a variety of online and classroom sessions about the issues affecting the financial industry. Following staff reductions and organizational changes, BB&T's university implemented the "Leading Through Continuous Change" course to provide tools for employees to succeed in new roles, and to retain crucial talent.
The university launched its Financial Center Leader (FCL) Academy in January 2008 to provide a comprehensive learning experience for FCLs, whose varied job responsibilities include leadership, sales, and credit underwriting. The academy uses a "learn-and-do" approach by blending four weeks of classroom training with four weeks of interim on-the-job assignments, including action plans and coaching opportunities. Despite the economic downturn and decreased company production, the FCL Academy graduates boasted 10 percent higher performance than employees trained prior to its implementation.
BJC HealthcareBJC Healthcare, a large not-for-profit healthcare organization in the United States, depends on its learning group to attract talent, develop current employees, and train the next generation of healthcare professionals. In 2008, the learning group was strategically aligned with other functions to focus the organization's efforts on transformation and process improvement. A learning and innovation center was built, with the tagline, "Where learning and innovation come together for better health and better health care."
This year, the new learning group launched its mobile learning program, MP4U. By providing a variety of on-demand "chunks" of information via computer, cell phone, or MP3, MP4U customizes learning opportunities for employees who want learning on-demand, don't have direct access to computers, or work in departments where lengthy classroom or online training is not practical. MP4U teaches employees about medical terminology, service skills, environmental health and safety, and academic opportunities through podcasts and video casts, which participants can access at their convenience.
The learning group created an online resource center with additional content, job aids, and online games per one department's request, and added role-playing scenarios to MP4 players for another hospital's training needs. After completing courses via MP4U, one department's performance ratings improved 22 percent, and another's employee engagement scores increased by 16 percent.
CbeyondMaintaining high customer satisfaction, developing leaders, and growing its salesforce to support national expansion are the three most critical business issues for communications and IT firm Cbeyond. Cbeyond's senior team includes four leaders dedicated to executing these strategic goals with help from the organization's learning and development function.
With executive-level buy-in championing the learning efforts, last year Cbeyond implemented a university program to expand training at the corporate headquarters and within each of the company's 11 national branch offices. The university was developed in part to provide a new 10-day training course for the company's increased salesforce, which grew 35 percent in 2008. Improving new salesforce employee training contributed to Cbeyond's 25 percent increase in 2008 revenue.
The university launched an online training application called Q, which delivers training content in five- to 10-minute increments. Employees receive the content via an instant message-type alert. Q also delivers certain classroom training elements using an on-demand format, which works especially well for the company's outside salesforce.
Thanks to Q, Cbeyond has saved $14,000 in classroom facilitation costs, as well as approximately $250,000 in opportunity cost, or the amount of potential revenue at risk from the former salesforce training process.
CIGNA CorporationWhat could be more public-spirited than providing free expert advice about maintaining proper health such as diet, stress management, and early disease detection? Perhaps nothing, figures CIGNA, the Philadelphia-based health services company.
Last year, CIGNA created an elaborate Internet site to inform the public about a range of such topics, as well as related issues including healthcare reform. The site (www.itstimetofeelbetter.com) combines web-based education with viral marketing, social networking, and corporate social responsibility themes to encourage the public to make better wellness decisions.
Launched and maintained by CIGNA's learning organization, the project is the health insurance industry's first website of its kind. It uses learning tools such as audio, video, and interactive engagement to reach an audience that includes internal and external stakeholders.
The project has another purpose. It is a principal tool in a new rebranding initiative aimed at changing the image of the 217-year-old company from a rigid, top-down managed enterprise to a dynamic and decentralized organization bursting with entrepreneurial spirit. It's a message geared as much toward the company's own employees as its customers.
The executive at the center of both activities is CIGNA's Chief Learning Officer Karen Kocher, who might appropriately be dubbed one of the firm's leading change agents. Following the reorganization, "business areas and functions are becoming wholly responsible for their own results, activity, and strategic direction through portfolio management," she reports.
The training implications of the move are profound, requiring an array of formal and informal instruction and mentoring at all levels, Kocher states. Not only must new methods and procedures be taught, but a radically new culture of urgency and innovation must be conveyed throughout the organization.
"Instilling competencies such as risk taking might sound obvious, but when an organization is hierarchical and driven from the center, employees simply aren't accustomed to making decisions, let alone those that are risky," she says.
The message for external audiences is that CIGNA is a proactive, creative, customer-focused organization concerned with all areas of healthcare, not just paying claims and verifying coverage. "We're trying to make it clear that we're focused on benefiting people," she says. Delivering that message also represents a dramatic expansion of the learning organization's scope beyond employee education.
Another component of the new culture is a multifaceted learning program of career development support aimed at increasing retention of high-performing individuals and valued leaders. Thanks to the program, annual turnover of the highest-performing employees has been cut in half from 7.6 percent in 2007 to 3.8 percent in 2008.
The focus on career development is in addition to ongoing work performed by the learning organization to make employees as productive and proficient as possible in their current roles. This work, accomplished through holistic learning solutions that leverage formal training, manager coaching, performance support, and peer mentoring, has reduced time to competence for key roles by a month or more.
At CIGNA, the focus of the learning organization and CLO Karen Kocher is on bringing the mission to "help the people we serve improve their health, well-being, and sense of security" to life through cultural reformation, career development, role proficiency, and customer learning - a great challenge with great possibilities.
DatatelDatatel provides technology solutions and professional business services to higher education institutions in North America. The company holds learning as a core value and establishes building a learning culture as a top strategic goal. This year Datatel initiated an upgrade of its software development tool CS, used by employees to develop software for clients and by clients to customize their software.
The learning function was involved in the software upgrade and focused on creating reusable content for both employees and clients. Employee and client advisory groups tested the new software and suggested features to enhance learning and development.
A larger sample group of employees then tested the new software. The group had access to the software's internal performance support team site, which was designed as a collaborative learning tool for employees. The site published information on new software features, collected user feedback, and posted class schedules and training materials. In the software upgrade's final stage, all employees could access the site and participate in the training.
Datatel's software upgrade process simultaneously increased client and employee learning. Ninety-six percent of employees reported acquiring the skills needed to perform on the job, and Datatel doubled its client trial participation goal for clients to adopt and learn how to successfully use the new software, from 10 to 20 percent.
Deloitte Touche TohmatsuDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTT) believes that the more it develops its professionals' skills and capabilities, the more value it delivers to clients.
DTT's commitment to developing its people begins with new hires. Last year, its U.S. member firm, Deloitte LLP - which, along with its subsidiaries, hired approximately 9,000 people in 2008 - developed a new onboarding experience. This program was initiated in response to a 9 percent loss of recruits in 2007 and attrition costs of more than $8 million each year.
DTT LLP's new signature experience provides access to a pre-hire website that houses all administrative paperwork for candidates to complete at their convenience. A potential new hire is assigned a peer advisor who makes contact with her before she joins the organization. This mentoring relationship continues through the new hire's first year of employment.
Onboarding continues with a two-day interactive training session using gaming, videos, and case studies within a virtual environment that simulates on-the-job challenges. The experience also gives new hires an internal networking site and personalized coaching opportunities.
As a result of this program, 89 percent of new hires surveyed said they felt welcome, and 87 percent said they knew how to access the information they needed. DTT's U.S. member firm's percentage of new recruits lost in 2008 fell by nearly a full percentage point.
G4S WackenhutThe security industry is plagued with high turnover. Although G4S Wackenhut's turnover was on the low side of the industry at 40 percent, the company was not satisfied with the rate and therefore, conducted a survey to gauge employee satisfaction. The three main issues that surfaced were a need for more access to training, supervisory skills training, and communication.
A comprehensive learning management system was put in place with more than 200 interactive courses for all employees, from entry level to top management. The e-learning courses - 41 Harvard-sponsored management courses, 25 interactive technical programs in security, 110 Microsoft Office courses, and 42 safety programs - were available to all 38,000 employees through the Internet.
G4S Wackenhut also forged a relationship with Thomas Edison State College to offer fully accredited degrees in criminal justice and other related fields at reasonable cost and flexibility. All courses can be completed online, tuition rates are below in-state rates for New Jersey residents, and the academic programs are built around the needs of the employed adult learners.
Other training initiatives that have been implemented include an 80-hour leadership program that all supervisors and managers must complete within six months of promotion and an employee concerns hotline that allows all employees to report dissatisfaction in their job or workplace using a toll-free number, email, or postal mail.
Grant ThorntonThe global public accounting and consulting firm was challenged with rolling out the first phase of a tax services methodology and tool suite called Tax Symphony to approximately 1,400 tax professionals in more than 50 offices. The musically themed blended-learning solution included three-day national and local-office classroom programs, web-based performance support, and introductory webcasts.
The methodology was initially introduced during the Tax Leadership Conference. After the conference, the content was taught locally using avatars presenting prerecorded audio clips coupled with group application activities.
Results showed that 86 percent of the target audience completing the post-test passed it, with an average passing score of 85 percent. Approximately $72,000 was saved by using avatars versus real instructors in local office sessions, and average post-test scores improved by 11 percentage points over national classroom post-test scores.
The company also redesigned its onboarding program BRIDGES, which is organized under a university campus concept, with each building representing a different aspect of the firm. Originally a two-day classroom program held nationally three times a year, the new program includes virtual elements and more activities at the local level. Elements include welcome phone calls and emails, a national transition team, local networking opportunities, virtual learning such as leadership videoconferences and webcasts, and technical training programs to get users up to speed on the client service area's policies, procedures, methodologies, and tools.
Though too early for metric results (the program launched in December 2008), anecdotal feedback from both newcomers and human resources has been positive about the improved BRIDGES program.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue ShieldThis not-for-profit health services organization maximized the potential of its corporate library by designing a learning and library performance support system. To do this, the librarian and instructors identified library resources and mapped them onto relevant corporate learning course offerings and areas in the organization with related strategic goals. The librarian also periodically followed up with appropriate learning resources for students in courses. Currently, 11 courses are intertwined with the library's offerings. The usage increase of materials from 2007 to 2008 was 35 percent with no increase in spending.
The company's use of Oracle databases, one of the main database systems employed by the organization, was also given a training and performance overhaul. In July 2008, a training strategy team (made up of learning and IT team members) identified critical skills, evaluated existing self-study courses for content and use of company-specific customizations, and reviewed external vendor courses for appropriate topics. In addition, specific technical topics were grouped into short briefing sessions that are delivered by a subject matter expert.
Overall, two internal certification programs (one for DB2 and one for Oracle), each with its own set of requirements, were created constituting self-studies, mentoring, SME-led technical forums, and on-site vendor classes.
Expected results include that 50 percent of management will add the program to their staff development programs with 30 percent reduction in external vendor costs, as well as improved effectiveness in daily tasks as indicated by job performance surveys.
Infosys TechnologiesThis computer systems design company sets a high standard for its employees, given that less than 6 percent of its applicants meet the demanding technical requirements. Due to the scarcity of experienced talent, one challenge was to cross-train engineers from allied disciplines such as mechanics and electronics to work in aerospace, automotive, embedded, or product life cycle management technologies.
To ensure this outcome, the Centre for Engineering Competence & Excellence (CECE) was created. Throughout the last three years, more than 1,000 engineers have graduated from the program, which ties together collaborations with vendors to create design, development, and evaluation of certifications and foundation programs. Seventy of these programs have been created using input from SMEs, customers, and external partners.
Throughout the last two years, this unit has doubled productivity at Infosys, and the number of engineers certified in various technologies and domains has reached 88 percent.
e-Lecture Learning Solutions (e-LLS) is another recently created program designed to ensure synergy between instructor-led training and self-paced e-learning. The first part is a server-hosted e-lecture, projected onto a large screen in a classroom. Each e-lecture has a high interactivity factor, including peer-to-peer discussions, class polls, quizzes, demos, and hands-on exercises. A non-SME conducts a post-lecture discussion, and any unresolved questions are recorded and then handled and facilitated by an SME.
The cost savings on this program is $375,000 per year, and e-LLS could contribute up to 100,000 additional trainee hours that were not previously feasible due to unavailability of SMEs.
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation LimitedTake one public-sector company in a mature industry, carved out of the nationalization of two multinationals, and add new career planning software that automatically suggests job rotation opportunities for its officers. How's that for a dynamic recipe for change?
This plan is being executed right now in India's Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), and according to follow-up surveys, it is a phenomenal success. The vast majority of participants are satisfied with their new career opportunities, while the company's proud learning executives consider it a master stroke of innovation that benefits individuals and the organization alike.
"Enabling learning through exposure to diverse roles training is the best way to develop people," says Sunil Sanas, manager of performance management at this 35-year-old Fortune 500 Company. While the job rotation concept is not entirely new, efforts to customize the concept to meet HPCL's specific objectives and develop in-house the software to support the initiative have helped the company achieve the desired results.
Called the "e-Enabled Career Planning System," it was created to fulfill the company's goal of nurturing its officers throughout their journey up to the managerial cadre. In short, it helps develop them into seasoned professionals through holistic exposure to multiple businesses within the organization. In an industry buffeted by wild fluctuations in crude prices and other variables, management flexibility is paramount.
Roughly 4,500 employees operate within the managerial ranks at HPCL. The new system caters to the career aspirations of junior managers in 32 job families within the marketing division. The software selects officers who have completed more than three years in their current positions and establishes the current experience profile from their past career history data. That data is then churned through a complex web of commands and programs to recommend a proposed assignment. For the inaugural job rotation, 679 officers were selected by the software to participate.
The true measure of success is how the innovation is leveraged for organizational advantage. It was up to the learning organization to ensure that the participants were equipped with the skills needed to be effective in their new positions. It did so by creating teams of SMEs in each job family or domain of expertise. (Train-the-trainer instruction honed their delivery skills.) Comprehensive programs were designed for each job family, and an internal faculty member from the senior ranks was appointed to deliver orientation.
The Career Planning System is only one ingredient in a comprehensive learning scheme at HPCL. The design and delivery of a training initiative for its retail strategic business unit, which accounts for 60 percent of revenues, also deserves mention. "The Forecourt Salesmen," indirectly employed by HPCL in more than 8,500 retail outlets across the country, are the face of the organization for its customers. The program, jointly delivered by the regional human resource and sales executives, is aimed at sensitizing the frontline salesmen on customer-centric behavior. This program helped them to create a unique and uniform customer experience across all their retail outlets resulting in enhanced brand image.
InterContinental Hotels GroupIn 2008, the learning function, brand, and operations teams at this global hospitality group all united as part of the rollout of a new branded service culture platform called Stay Real. Stay Real's goal is to create and sustain a culture of service at each of the brand's 3,200-plus field units. Led by 23 field-based consultants who are members of the learning function group, training is cascaded across all function areas of each unit. Unit managers lead a series of regional workshops followed by onsite training of all associates. The workshops use a comprehensive change management approach, structured to provide a three-month learning process that allows the units to navigate the stages of change.
Results showed that at the end of 2008, customer satisfaction scores were up more than 1.2 points from the previous year, which translates to an annual revenue increase of nearly $77 million worldwide once full deployment is complete at the end of 2010.
The Leaders Lounge, a virtual leadership development community available through the company's intranet, was a program created as an on-the-job leadership development resource for leaders in the company.
The Leaders Lounge utilizes an attention-based model for behavioral change. Populated with rich, leadership-oriented content available in small "bites," the site is updated daily. Executives can customize their profiles, share information, comment on posts, and ask questions. The Leaders Lounge is available to about 800 company leaders, and average time spent on the site is eight minutes per day, per user.
La QuintaWith the goal of improving product and service quality, while simultaneously strengthening profits, the owners of the La Quinta hotel brand looked to the learning organization for guidance. In response, the team created and launched an innovative three-phase initiative called "PIRFect Management" to assist with developing its newly hired and newly promoted managers.
The cornerstones of the program (as encapsulated by the "PIRF" acronym) emphasize the need to "plan," "inspect," "review results," and "follow-up." In phase one, managers take part in "INNitiation," a three-week course designed to guide managers' focus on the kind of product and service quality that motivates guest loyalty, and ultimately, profit. Weeks one and two focus on product and service quality, respectively, and week three allows learners to practice and transfer their new skills on the job. A scorecard on learners' progress is provided to LQUniversity and operations executives at the end of each week.
Thirty days after trainees are assigned to their hotels, phase two ("INNspection") is conducted on site to ensure that knowledge and behaviors acquired during INNitiation are being applied. The final phase, "INNtegration," is a one-week program conducted at corporate headquarters that imparts some of the more advanced PIRFect Management techniques and allows managers to meet with La Quinta's executive teams. Program results, conveyed in weekly status reports and monthly balanced scorecards, indicate excellent performance among managers without any previous product quality training experience.
LarsonAllenIn 2008, the 56-year-old professional services firm wanted to maintain its long-standing priority of advancing professional knowledge and strengthening connections between all of its 25 U.S. locations. In the past, the organization held annual industry learning conferences. In June 2008, to keep travel costs low and effectiveness high, a virtual learning conference was launched.
LarsonAllen's learning and development team partnered with their healthcare industry group to host the conference. Using webcast technology, professionals could participate from five different office locations, enjoying high-quality video and audio. Learning sessions were designed to maximize small-group discussions and collaboration, and still allow for some face-to-face contact.
In addition to a $50,000 cost savings, the initiative drove exposure to and acceptance of virtual communication technology. Evaluations of the event revealed that overall, professionals were pleased with the ease of use, opportunities for collaboration, and time saved on travel. The approach was adopted to be used in the future by three of LarsonAllen's largest industry groups.
Mayer Electric Supply Co. Inc.The Alabama-based electric supply distributor ranks acquisition training and market diversification high on its list of business priorities. To get new employees engaged and tuned-in during a recent acquisition, Mayer's learning organization sought to learn from some of its previous approaches and injected just enough Greek mythology to help drive the message home.
Mayer's "Acquisition Support and Training" (MAST) team approach is an ongoing initiative that helps the company introduce organizational culture to employees of newly acquired companies in the most accessible way possible - via their own associates. In studying previous change-management programs, Mayer's learning organization found that introducing culture change and systems training at the same time was not a successful measure. With the MAST approach, systems and culture are introduced up-front, but the culture change is allowed to emerge over time, with a focus on leadership.
"The goal of our training department is to create solutions that will align our associates' needs with the vision, mission, values, and strategic goals of Mayer," says Bruno Neal, the company's senior instructional systems designer.
MAST's symbol pays homage to the Homeric lore of Odysseus' navigation past the Sirens. The MAST team's goals and that of Odysseus are one in the same, with Mayer's priority being to avoid losing newly acquired staff to the lure of pining over the old days or worrying about their futures. Team participants benefit from sharing and gaining organizational knowledge.
MTR CorporationHaving experienced a merger in 2007, the Hong Kong - based mass transit railway company needed to manage staff and costs, as well as create value, spur international growth, address work efficiency and effectiveness, and prompt meaningful skills transfer to cope with a vastly changed and expanded system.
So when the going gets tough, the tough get innovative. In addition to a broad operational, technical, and safety training solution, MTR launched the "Sunflower VMV" initiative - a campaign focused on permeating the company's "vision, mission, and values" (its "VMV") across all quarters. A sunflower icon was used to brand the initiative, with the flower's positive, friendly characteristics helping to symbolize MTR's four new values - excellent service, mutual respect, value creation, and enterprising spirit.
The company strategically placed the sunflower logo to create suspense, and rollout entailed a workshop and launch of a VMV website through which employees could access information on the initiative, as well as share their insights on what the values mean day-to-day. A "Living the Values" award was designed for all grades of staff to acknowledge each other for commendable behaviors.
So far, the learning organization has a lot to be pleased with in terms of results. Most of MTR's employees (79 percent) find the VMV to be clear, and 72 percent think that it sets a straightforward direction for the company.
Prescription SolutionsThis pharmacy benefits manager made a strong commitment to improving individual customer satisfaction in 2008 by launching its "Customer Advocacy" initiative. Championing the goal to change the culture among call center employees "from cordial efficiency to customer delight," the learning team led an innovative, multimodal project that immersed its agents, now renamed Customer Advocates, in an interactive curriculum. Advocates gained the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to produce a customer-centric focus.
Prescription Solutions introduced in-house media production, enabling the learning team to create visually appealing content that complements instructor-led modules. Video segments provide training on coming system implementations, model caller experiences, and demonstrate customer-advocacy responses to real-life call situations. Learners then have the opportunity to role-play the situations for themselves. In-house production also allows the company to update videos quickly and efficiently to reflect process enhancements while maintaining the advocacy theme.
Executive management made clear its commitment to the Customer Advocacy initiative by providing both resources and supporting communications. The company also revised its call monitoring quality guidelines to place additional emphasis on customer advocacy behaviors.
The initiative produced dramatic results as measured by substantial improvements, not only in the organization's customer satisfaction scores, but also in its call scoring quality metrics. Winning multiple awards for customer satisfaction underscored the success of the program.
TELUSWith more than 34,000 employees, Vancouver-based TELUS is frequently in search of that elusive metric, employee engagement. In 2007, the company's annual survey revealed a significant opportunity in the category of career development: The organization hadn't yet successfully made the shift to personally managing careers. In 2008, to affect that shift and foster greater personal accountability among employees, TELUS launched an interactive initiative known as "Play to Your Strengths." It focused on personal strengths to move one's career from good to great and on teaching employees to own their development and their careers.
These half-day seminars are held at varying locations two to three times per year and feature maximum face time with corporate executives. Employees are invited to question their higher-ups about career successes and challenges. These sessions are filmed and converted into discrete learning objects for discussion and blogging later on.
"We're trying to move our executives from 'sage on the stage' to 'guide on the side,'" says Dan Pontefract, senior director of learning and development. Pontefract has been with the company since November 2008 and says that his overarching goal is to transform corporate training and development into a "collaboration and learning office." To that end, TELUS has been focusing on learning that is casual, informal, and experiential. "It's not about numbers," explains Pontefract. "It's about the state of you as a person."
Learning and performance initiatives are directly linked to corporate and business unit strategic priorities. Organizational training teams deliver functional skills and knowledge training to frontline employees and managers to drive operational results. A centralized learning team provides development guidance, learning plans, and curricula, while learning consultants within the business units develop and execute strategic training.
After the implementation of Play to Your Strengths, TELUS' employee engagement score increased by 5 percent. "These results - higher than the industry benchmark for a single year - demonstrate our collaborative environment and approach to continuously improving engagement," says Pontefract. In a second wave, the company introduced engagement forums - thought leadership and learning platforms that enable leaders to understand engagement, strengthen team spirit, and develop the best talent possible.
TELUS has significantly expanded its e-learning offerings to realize cost savings through outsourcing, while decreasing travel and accommodation costs. Available web-delivered content stands at 6,000 courses and more than 20,000 books. Although the number of employees served in the past 18 months increased by one-third, the corporate budget for development was maintained at 2004 levels; web course completions numbered 220,000, and more than 9,400 users accessed online books.
The company is also experimenting with social networking tools. "With our geographical footprint and large employee base, it is essential to stay connected," says Pontefract. By introducing an understanding of social networking alongside such tools as wikis and blogs, teams can enhance information sharing about the industry, market opportunities, projects, and management best practices. The use of these tools within TELUS has taken off, Pontefract says, "like wildfire in a forest."
Reliance Industries Limited, Dahej Manufacturing DivisionPlant training coordinators serve in each plant, mentoring and helping employees achieve individual training goals. Validations are completed for employees before and after the training to verify that knowledge was gained through training.
Needs-based and plant-based training modules are designed so that the newcomers are prepared in the minimum possible time period. Experienced new hires and recent graduates are trained in different modules based on their training needs.
After recruitment, new hires spend time in an extensive cross discipline classroom and receive on-the-job training at different locations. Through the mentor program, the learning needs of each trainee are fulfilled through assigning them to one senior level executive who provides guidance and coaching to them and nurtures their talent.
Plant problems are solved through different improvement techniques such as Six Sigma, in which many employees have been trained. A condensed chemical engineering course is a unique example of training employees on cross-discipline jobs. Mechanical, electrical, and instrument-disciplined technicians have been cross trained in a chemical engineering course, and they are now working as process operators. There are different skill-based training modules for cross-functional activities, including an "engineering for nonengineers" program.
Reliance Industries Limited, Jamnagar Refinery DivisionThe organization has seven manufacturing sites, each with its own base of SMEs. Management began to take stock of the organizations skill inventory at various levels. They identified experts on various subjects and across all sites, to deliver training lectures most useful to all sites.
Using existing video conferencing equipment, a remote classroom infrastructure was identified and implemented without any additional expense at various locations within the group. Existing classroom infrastructure was used for tele-classroom setup using video conferencing facilities. Adequate physical space, voice, video, and data infrastructure were provided by management.
With the implementation of the new program, titled "Collaborative Next Generation Learning," it became possible to have live, interactive training between various manufacturing locations. Any location can be used as a trainer or participant site. Employees can attend live training sessions regardless of where they are based. Sessions are recorded for later retrieval by the participants.
Additionally, to staff the new refinery project, Reliance recruited more than 2,000 workers. To ensure safe and smooth commissioning, startup, and operation, a mentoring system and project health check was instituted. This tool ensured that operating and maintenance personnel were equipped with the minimum required competencies. Once all employees successfully completed the training, they were validated and certified. With the succesful unit startup, the Refinery Division became the world's largest refinery at a single location.
Robert W. Baird & Co.RW Baird's focus on developing their employees during a down market
centered almost exclusively on retention and engagement, knowing that keeping "their best and brightest" growing, committed, and satisfied would be key to riding out the economic storm. For example, in 2008, the organization launched inclusion training, an initiative designed to help individuals recognize how reaction to people's differences can influence the participation, productivity, and engagement of business.
Additionally, the new advisor training program meets a need to increase retention of the best new advisors, typically one of the highest turnover positions in the industry. All new advisors join a team with at least one senior advisor who shares candid advice on pitfalls to avoid and best practices. They complete exercises that simulate real interactions they will likely have with clients and tackle projects derived from actual client data that allow advisors to work off-line and create solutions with feedback from experts.
Gen Y interns work in different departments but come together to work on a project-based business issue, and jointly present their business solution to management. More than 20 percent of the 87 interns returned for a second term, an increase from past years.
Before the eight-week client service program begins, a "what's it all about" session is conducted to help managers understand course objectives and encourage them to coach and offer feedback to associates attending the course.
sanofi-aventis U.S.An important performance measure for sanofi-aventis' learning organization throughout the last several years was salesforce effectiveness scores, as measured by a market research firm. The data benchmarks the performance of sales staff versus industry competitors using sales effectiveness measures as perceived by customers.
Last year, the firm was beginning to lag behind its competition in sales effectiveness, particularly in the area of product knowledge within the diabetes salesforce. Sales professional test scores illustrated that a learning solution about advanced topics in diabetes could improve salesforce effectiveness.
A decision was made to use a self-paced e-learning solution, because many learners are highly tech-savvy. The concept for the e-learning was a virtual campus called Diabetes University - a fun learning environment tempered by the seriousness of the subject matter. Learners could be guided through the campus by a "professor" and engage in different learning activities, with some game-based and some traditional content such as video and narrated text. Learners who performed well were added to the "dean's list" and had their names announced each month.
A technological consideration was that learners could complete the program in the field or while traveling. A 2 percent increase in salesforce effectiveness scores was witnessed over six months. As a result, 88,000 incremental sales calls moved from "ineffective" to "effective," as characterized by their customers.
SCC Soft ComputerIn 2008, a global education and training project empowered employees to take ownership of their learning plans with several tools, including a "personal learning passport" that they can use to track their progress toward reaching competency levels for their positions. Managers work closely with their teams to ensure that team members are on track and to reassess their learning needs to keep pace with industry and regulatory changes.
The organization sought to get overseas partners involved in their own learning, and get all employees to develop a global outlook. A programmer in Poland needed to see how he affects a hospital patient in Michigan. Corporate employees needed to acknowledge the contributions of the company's overseas partners, while focusing on the ultimate customer - the patient - instead of looking at the software end-user as a customer.
The company began sending domain experts - medical technologists who write user requirements and test cases, as well as business analysts who have been tasked with working with the company's architects and strategic clients in developing SCC's next generation of laboratory information systems - to their overseas offices to train associates there on how clients use SCC products and give the developers insight into the U.S. allied healthcare industry.
This exchange of ideas and training methods, and sharing of domain expertise has benefited staff internationally and created new career opportunities for team members.
T. Rowe PriceTo help the company best serve its clients and sustain performance, T. Rowe Price created a focused talent management strategy, a change management initiative, and a consultative service training course that raised awareness and built skills on relationship building, effective questioning, and responsiveness.
In laying the foundation for its talent management strategy, the company reassessed and redesigned its management competency models to incorporate global and general management knowledge, skills, and abilities to help meet the strategic objectives of the firm. It also launched an executive development program to increase the bench strength of pivotal leadership roles within the organization.
To build leadership capability in change management, T. Rowe Price created a scalable and repeatable change management training program anchored by a building change capability planning session, a half-day change strategy session in which teams conduct high-level diagnosis and prioritize high-risk changes, and a change strategy toolkit - an online suite of self-serve tools applicable to any change initiative.
The Consultative Client Interaction course helped associates make personal connections with their clients, respond to clients' emotional cues, clarify questions to uncover a client's unstated needs, summarize and provide solutions based on facts and feelings, and build stronger long-term relationships with their clients. Targeting 149 associates, the course focused on on-the-job behavior change and the transfer of knowledge, skills, and attitudes about the work site.
University Health SystemDevelopment and retention of capable employees are two of the most pressing issues confronting any healthcare organization. At University Health System, the hospital district for Bexar County, Texas, an impressive record on both fronts attests to a superbly conceived talent management strategy and a savvy training organization eager to exploit every learning opportunity.
The institution's new era began officially in 2005, when George B. Hernndez Jr. was promoted from executive vice president to president/CEO at the San Antonio - based multifacility health system. Hernndez says he has always been impressed with the legal profession's dedication to continual learning, and decided to instill that culture at the 3,400-employee operation.
"I set the parameters of what I wanted in educating the workforce, and then relied on the system's experts to make it happen," he says. Enter Theresa Scepanski, vice president of organizational development, and Jacque Burandt, administrative director of staff development.
Led by the two executives, the organization created its Institute for Leaders, a multitiered leadership development program open to all supervisory employees, to create successors to fill the leadership pipeline. Programs operated by the institute are the Performance Leadership Academy (PLA), Management Development Academy (MDA), Directors' Mentoring Program, and Leadership Academy for Physicians.
Training initiatives provided by each program develop individuals with communications and leadership skills so that they can address the board, manage budgets and other financial matters, and master project management assignments, says Hernndez. "These are some of the biggest challenges in healthcare," he reports.
The MDA develops the skills of team leaders, supervisors, managers, charge nurses, and patient care coordinators through a competency-based two-year curriculum. The PLA even formed an alumni association to provide additional feedback to the learning department.
Other programs are designed to develop and retain employees at every rung of the institutional ladder. For example, entry-level hires are enrolled in an orientation program called "School at Work," which strengthens basic competencies in areas such as computer skills and communication, as well as medical terminology, ethics, and anatomy.
The two-hour-per-week course is delivered after work hours and lasts eight months. It also includes personal introductions to the facility's highest executives to help put a personal face on the large organization. The course also provides job advancement, retention, and career development for entry-level workers. Complete with a cap-and-gown graduation ceremony, it has dramatically improved morale and organizational skills.
In addition, ever-changing demographics in patient and employee populations creates a need for cultural competency throughout the organization. Classroom training and an e-learning module insert this topic into all system-level and job-specific competencies. The organization also draws on the knowledge within its multicultural community to leverage training resources and create alliances.
These and other programs have resulted in satisfying results in the key metrics, including time to employee readiness, compliance delinquencies, and satisfaction.
Perhaps the most satisfying result is improved management decisions at all levels. For example, cost discipline instruction from the PLA enabled one nursing director to recognize prescheduling as the root of the Rehabilitation Center's high overtime costs. She instituted changes in scheduling policy to realign overtime costs with the Center's staffing needs and saved the organization $30,000.
Trust Company of the WestThe launch of TCW University, the company's first-ever learning program, has proven to be a successful endeavor. In 2007, the CEO and the head of corporate development created the university to tackle the strategic need for greater understanding, coordination, and collaboration across this asset management organization.
The university provides all employees with timely information about all aspects of the asset management business, from portfolio management principles to trading and operational processes to supporting services such as risk management, compliance, and technology. The program also offers foundation introduction courses for those new to the industry. Taught by senior professionals, the classes are updated regularly to incorporate current events and market trends.
The university operates with an efficient "virtual" staff model, leveraging a cross-functional steering committee of senior officers to lead the program. Within 18 months, the university has offered more than 80 sessions and received an overall, average rating of 4.6 out of 5. Forty-four percent of the company's employees applied for class admission at the university's inception, and more than 71 percent of employees surveyed reported satisfaction with their ongoing training.
A general certificate program was created to recognize individuals who completed a minimum of four university classes. Three additional certificate programs are being created. Each will be tied to employee performance plans and to certain professional steps, such as promotion or transfer.
United Overseas BankDeveloping people, building customer loyalty, and managing talent have been identified as critical business issues facing United Overseas Bank. To combat these challenges, the company created two development programs that encompass training high potentials, providing quality service to customers, and managing talent.
Wealth management is a key driver of growth for the bank, so developing highly competent bank employees is critical. The bank is working closely with a local university to develop competencies for its bank employees. Together with the university, the bank launched the Advance Diploma in Private Banking program in 2007. Forty employees have graduated from the program since its launch. These comprehensive training efforts have helped the bank seize cross-selling opportunities in the region and work closely with clients to manage their portfolios in this highly volatile economy.
A leadership program that encompasses developmental initiatives for junior managers, middle managers, and senior managers was introduced in 2008 to help high potentials find success in different levels of the company. In each of these programs, participants are required to present a change initiative that they want to bring about in the organization.
Whirlpool CorporationTo deliver all elements of the company's global strategy - attracting and retaining consumers to their brands with innovation, providing excellent service and value to trade customers, and driving lower costs and higher product quality across global operations - Whirlpool's Global Leadership Development Group delivered a team-based leadership development program that focused on solving 23 key business issues that affect revenue and cost savings. The CEO and executive team prioritized the 23 key business issues, created clear long- and short-term goals and objectives, and identified a leader for each of the business issues.
The leadership teams contained members from various regions of the world and leaders representing three levels of leadership - manager, director, and vice president. All of the teams attended a four-day leadership program full of lectures, dialogues, and work time with Six Sigma and innovation tools, as well as time to analyze data from the Social Network Analysis.
On the final day, each group reported potential solutions to one of the 23 business issues to a panel made up of the CEO, CFO, regional executive vice president, two key stakeholders, and three to four employees. To date, the projects have delivered $700 million in revenue and $205 million in cost savings.
Wipro LimitedLearning solutions at Bangalore, India - based Wipro Limited are typically of two types: needs-based and capability-building. Whether driven by customers, organizational leadership, or environmental and market factors, programs are intended to build skills and competencies that fit into the company's overarching competency framework.
This framework is used to drive individual and organizational performance and is central to the entire talent supply chain. Within this framework, Selvan Dorairaj, senior vice president of talent transformation, and his team at Wipro are working to improve the performance of the division's 60,000 employees.
"The environment in which we work has completely changed; and the total capability of the organization has been refocused to proactively build capability in our employees, especially within their first six years with the company," he says.
A new unified competency framework launched in 2008 was created in partnership with the business units to build a solid base of technical capability through assessment-driven learning. The company employs more than 40,000 recent graduates hired within the past four years. The new framework is designed to upskill them, teach them to adapt to rapidly changing technology, and keep them engaged and billable for complex projects. Talent transformation designed the framework with four roles and eight levels for each of the roles; employees were mapped to it through an initial assessment. A wide repository of learning content, including more than 50 training programs, 200 study groups, and 300 mentors, supports the program.
Key metrics, such as productivity, have improved. One way in which Wipro measures productivity in software development is through kilo lines of code (KLOC) per week. After the implementation of the new framework, KLOC jumped 4 percent, and gross utilization of resources improved by 2 percent. "Productivity enhancement is a key theme for the lower rungs of our organization," says Dorairaj.
Newly graduated employees also go through a 10-week project readiness program. Wipro reinvented this program to reduce its environmental footprint and to better connect with its Millennial-generation workforce. The new program, "Green PRP," leverages technology-driven, multimodal, interactive learning. Its features include
- On-demand video content: an in-house content development studio that permits the rapid development of video-integrated content. Participants view these modules in a classroom with an instructor who interprets, expands, and answers questions. Video content development time has dropped from 10 days to one.
- Real-life case studies: participants examine a technical subject through case studies, where a single application is used as an example throughout the course, including lab exercises.
- Mobile delivery: 24 toll-free lines through three mobile service providers in India provide 24-7 access to audio recordings of learning sessions.
- Virtual handouts: talent transformation provides participants with programming code and access to training videos, saving thousands of sheets of paper.
The significant contributions of workplace learning and performance are well appreciated within Wipro. Dorairaj says that to date, his is the only department that has not undergone budget cuts or decreased headcounts during the economic downturn. "Talent transformation is a continuing investment in Wipro's future. This is a huge endorsement for us," he states.