On the Minds of HR and Learning Leaders

We recently completed our annual research conference and I had a wonderful opportuinty to meet and talk with 15 different HR and L&D executives in a special roundtable.   The theme of our research conference is The Business of Talent®, and as you will read, this theme comes through in almost every organization.  Talent management is a strategic business tool, not an HR initiative.

Commerce Bank and TD Bank:  Michelle Fetterman-Gaughan, vice-president and talent planning manager, discussed how her bank is going through a major merger with TD Bank – impacting 74,000 employees.  Commerce Bank developed a complete competency model for its commercial lending operation, which now must be merged and integrated into TD Bank’s competency models.  A key challenge ahead is the blending of corporate cultures and different competency models and systems.  Michele believes that Commerce Bank’s existing competency strategies will be extremely valuable during and after the merger, as new roles and responsibilities are defined.

Turner Broadcasting – Improving Competitiveness:  Michele Golden, vice president, talent management for Turner Broadcasting, discussed how this global media company faces intense competition in every market.  The company is putting together a three-year roadmap to create common processes, linkage of pay to performance, and new goal alignment systems to improve innovation and competitiveness.  She is collaborating with business leaders throughout the company to help craft these new integrated processes.

Aetna – Transition from Turnaround to Industry Leadership:  Deborah Kelly, head of Learning Services at Aetna, discussed how the company’s management-led turnaround was built on Aetna’s pioneering work in competency analysis, job analysis, and integrated management processes.  Now that Aetna is an industry leader, the challenge is how to take Aetna’s integrated talent management process and build processes and systems to foster innovation and leadership, not just execution.  Deb’s presentation is available to IMPACT attendees on the IMPACT 2008 Online community site

Verizon Wireless – Improving Talent Migration and Culture of Learning:  Lou Tedrick, Vice President of workforce development at Verizon Wireless, discusses how the company relies heavily on operational training and rapid development processes to keep its sales and service teams up to date on new products and services.  But as the company’s products continue to grow in volume and number, there is a need to drive learning down to the line manager level, simplifying the process and forcing individual managers to train workers on an informal basis.  In addition the company is now working to start migrating talent across the business entities to promote leadership development and deeper levels of succession management.

Boeing – Developing Technical Skills in the Manufacturing Workforce:  Ed Chang, senior project manager at Boeing, discussed how the average age of a Boeing manufacturing worker is 48 years old and as much as 15-20% of the workforce will retire in five to seven years.  One of his key objectives in attending the conference was to network with other attendees to identify best practices in building technical skills in newly hired workers.  The manufacturing skills required at Boeing take years to develop.  Ed’s challenge is to develop a wide variety of technical development programs to fill the anticipated gap.

Caterpillar – Global Model for People Management:  Fred Goh, director of strategic learning, Caterpillar University at Caterpillar discussed the company’s new integrated talent management model, which includes all elements of talent from recruiting to development to learning to diversity.  Caterpillar is building integrated career models throughout the company and using this new infrastructure to roll out Caterpillar’s new Global Manufacturing System.

Honeywell – Moving from Enterprise Learning to Integrated Talent Strategy:  Steven Teal, the former vice president and CLO of Honeywell, discussed how the company identified a tremendous gap in technical skills throughout its global defense and control businesses and realized that its enterprise learning function must migrate to an enterprise talent management function.  As he helped architect this new strategy, he realized that his existing role as CLO was no longer needed.  He helped the company define a new position, vice president of talent management, which will facilitate a more integrated approach to employee development, succession, and technical capability management.

Northshore Long Island Jewish Healthcare – Driving Performance through Leadership and Learning:  Kathy Gallo, senior vice president and CLO at Northshore LIJ, discussed how this well-known healthcare provider continues to be the largest and most profitable delivery operation in downstate New York.  Its talent development model, patterned after JetBlue’s flight training and GE’s leadership institute, provides deep levels of technical development for nurses and medical professionals, focuses heavily on leadership development and action learning, and focuses heavily on innovative learning techniques to drive the highest levels of patient care, employee retention, and performance.

Northrop Grumman – Retaining Talent in a Company of Acquisitions:  Kathy Thomas, vice president of learning and development for Northrop Grumman, described how this 120,000 employee organization operates as diverse business entities with loosely-federated model for employee development.  She described how the company uses a series of leadership councils to build consensus in its leadership development, executive succession management, and technical skills development across its broad and highly diversified businesses.

Yum! – Providing Consistent, Efficient, and Highly Focused Retail Training Worldwide:  Rob Lauber, vice president, YUM! University and global learning services, described how this one-million- employee powerhouse (Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, and other brands) is just now rolling out world-wide training systems and programs to provide consistent, sharable training programs in restaurant operations.  This complex implementation will give the company the ability to run brands independently yet provide tremendous sharing and efficiency in functional training, onboarding, food safety, and other important operational talent development needs.

Xerox – Implementing a New Strategy for Continuous Learning in Professional Services:  Gary Vastola, vice president, Xerox global services, discussed the implementation of a three-year plan to blend classroom, e-Learning, and Learning 2.0 tools to develop the knowledge and skills of Xerox services resources worldwide.  This operation will focus on promoting a continuous learning culture and has been incorporated into the overall Xerox global services strategy.

Aramark – Creating a Common Talent Scorecard among Broadly Distributed Operations:  Liviu Dedes, vice president of organizational effectiveness and development for Aramark, described how the company manages its widely distributed businesses in food service, prison operations, and other people-intensive businesses.  He discussed how he has instituted a standardized human capital scorecard across the corporation to facilitate operational reviews of talent, standardized processes, and global talent data to help his team implement focused programs to solve talent management problems throughout the company.

Wellpoint – Implementing an Integrated Talent Process and Performance-Driven Culture:  David Casey, vice president of talent management for Wellpoint, discussed how the company has been rebuilding itself after a major merger into a “leading innovator” culture by developing an integrated talent management strategy, centralized L&D strategy, and new process and systems strategy to drive leadership development, a performance-based culture, and faster response to talent gaps in the company.

The Business of Talent

These are only a few of the leaders who joined us this year at IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent®.  I was inspired and energized by the business focus and technical prowess of these leaders.  Enterprise learning and talent management is never easy and never a one-size-fits-all solution.  Each organization must use its skills in leadership, organizational development, and learning to build the right organization, processes, tools, and systems to drive business change.  Conference participants demonstrated that enduring organizations are “talent machines” – they focus on people first, and products and services second. 

We look forward to your comments.  And look for details on IMPACT 2009 coming soon.  We have even more planned for next year’s conference.