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Leading the Global Workforce provides a handy guide for international organizations that must achieve results in managing and sustaining a global workforce. The fourteen illustrative cases outlined address the major concerns—recruiting and developing global leaders, global organizational learning, cross-cultural communication, outsourcing line functions, and managing global careers and transitions—from sixty of the world’s best-practice global organizations. Each case shows how the organization advanced a global business strategy with a new initiative in the areas of global leadership development, cultural change, career transition, succession planning, change management, outsourcing, and global performance. In addition, Leading the Global Workforce also describes the overall strategy, planning, and implementation of the initiative; feedback from participants; and overall evaluation of results. Many of the cases contain competency models, practical tools, instruments, and materials that were most effective.
Global Leadership Training with an On-the-Job Focus
Teresa Roche Cal Wick
Agilent Technologies' innovative approach to global leadership development redefines the "finish line" of training from the last day of class to on-the-job application. An Internet-based system is used to encourage and track follow-through, with positive impact on the roles and responsibilities of participants, managers, and the learning organization.
Agilent Technologies is the world leader in the test and measurement market. Agilent delivers innovative technologies, solutions, and services to a wide range of customers in communications, electronics, life sciences, and chemical analysis. Agilent is truly global, with more than half of its revenue generated outside the United States.
Agilent was formed in 1999 as part of the strategic realignment of Hewlett-Packard. Following its successful initial public offering in 1999, Agilent became a fully independent company. Becoming a stand-alone company provided Agilent with the rare opportunity to redefine its core values, vision, and strategy.
In doing so, Agilent recognized that "winning innovation" was core to its overall strategy of being the global technology leader. Innovation has been central to Agilent's success, reaching back to Hewlett-Packard's beginnings in the garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard began. Innovation is truly part of Agilent's "DNA." Agilent's success as a corporation depends on ensuring that innovation permeates every product, every department and function, and every process. This strategy requires a never-ending search for new ways to deliver new products to customers better and faster than anyone else. These concepts of "winning innovation" and the challenge of continuous improvement apply as much to global leadership development as they do to designing and manufacturing new products.
A strategy of "winning innovation" in a global marketplace requires real commitment to employee development. Innovation thrives only in an environment of enlightened leadership in which continuous learning is supported, expected, and rewarded. Agilent's executive leadership regards employee development as a cornerstone of its strategy for winning at innovation.
Strong support from senior management does not mean a blank check, however. Indeed, strong support leads to high expectations. Global Learning and Leadership Development is, as is every department at Agilent, expected to deliver results and to innovate. Simply continuing to do what has been done in the past is not sufficient. This has been especially true in recent years as economic challenges have put unprecedented pressure on training and development budgets.
This chapter describes an innovation in global leadership development: redefining the finish line for leadership training and development. It is still very much a work in progress; Agilent's Global Learning and Leadership and Development group continues to innovate and learn. The best practices and insights that have been identified to date are presented here to help accelerate and improve the impact of development in other global organizations.
FOLLOWING THROUGH BEYOND TRAINING
The core concept is simple: "The course is not the finish line." That is, a leadership development program cannot be considered complete-and therefore "successful"-until its teachings have been taken back to the workplace and applied regularly so that they become part of the culture. This is the problem of learning transfer. While much has been written about the importance of assuring learning transfer, most programs and most learners continue to operate as if the last day of class is the end of the process-the finish line. Contact between the learning organization and the learner ceases as soon as the last class is over, at least until it is time to recruit attendees for the next program. Follow-through, coaching, and manager involvement are left to individual initiative. This can be especially true for global organizations like Agilent, in which both instructors and learners are dispersed across the world.
Agilent realized that the postcourse period was fertile ground for innovation. Improving the rate of knowledge transfer is vital to increasing the return on the investment in training and development.
To help ensure that the application of learning continues after the course itself, Agilent introduced a systematic approach to postcourse follow-through. The impact of thinking about skills development beyond the last day of class has been positive and profound. It has created new partnerships and opportunities, compelled us to reexamine many roles and long-held beliefs, and opened new opportunities.
Redefining the finish line from delivery of courses to delivery of results through transfer and application is a true paradigm shift. It challenges many of the tacit assumptions about the role of training and development. It affects how Agilent approaches development, how it invests time and money in training, and how it measures success.
As Agilent began to focus on transfer and application, rather than just delivery of courses, it became clear that most of the traditional measures of development were not relevant. For example, the number of programs delivered and the number of attendees are measures of activity, not productivity. It does not matter how many people attend a program unless there is evidence that attending is followed by new and more effective behaviors on the job. Likewise, course evaluation measures have little meaning unless they are correlated with enhanced learning transfer and business results. Table 1.1 summarizes the basic difference of perspective.
Redefining the endpoint of a development program creates new opportunities to partner with the business, as well as new responsibilities and accountability. Managers play a key role in supporting or impeding the transfer of knowledge following a development program. Once Agilent began to focus on results, it became apparent that Global Learning and Development needed to do a much better job of preparing, engaging, and supporting managers in their roles in facilitating knowledge transfer.
Likewise, Agilent realized that facilitators had to stay engaged with the participants after they completed the course. Most programs drop learners like "hot potatoes" as soon as the course ends. Instructors start preparing and thinking about the next program sometimes even before the current one ends.
Agilent realized that this is suboptimal. Facilitators are selected for their superior knowledge and teaching ability. During the program, participants come to value the facilitator's knowledge, opinion, and advice. Yet, historically, teaching ended when the class ended; communication was cut off. As a result, there was no support for learning transfer from the facilitators-the very people with the greatest insight into the material and whose opinion the learners value most.
To address this issue, Agilent redefined the finish line for its facilitators as well as for the participants. Facilitators are now expected to stay in touch with the class during the weeks immediately following the program and to provide ongoing guidance and encouragement.
To make the process scalable and efficient, Agilent is using a commercial follow-through management system called Friday5s(r). Each time a program for new managers is offered, an account is created for each of the participants in Friday5s. The participants' learning goals are transferred to the system, where they can be viewed by the facilitators as well as participants' managers and other course members. Participants update their progress every two weeks over a ten-week follow-through period. Facilitators can review participants' goals and their progress using a special access key. They can respond to queries directly from the site as well as provide online coaching and encouragement.
The results have been impressive in three respects:
1. An ongoing dialogue is created between learners and facilitators so that facilitators achieve the Robinsons' vision of moving beyond training and become true performance consultants. In the ten weeks following a recent program in Penang, Malaysia, for example, the facilitator provided sixty-nine separate comments and suggestions to participants to assist them in the application process.
2. Participants are more actively engaged in applying their learning. As one commented, "This is probably the first time that I have really taken action after a training course." Since the new process was implemented in March 2003, more than six hundred managers have attended programs in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. They have filed nearly 1,800 updates of their efforts to apply what they learned in the ten-week follow-through period after each program, an average of three per person.
3. The program is truly global. Because the program manager can review the ongoing coaching that is occurring anywhere in the world, he is much better able to create a common understanding and approach among facilitators, even though they are dispersed across four continents.
What Agilent is doing is compelling and unique. It serves as a practical model for moving beyond training to true human performance enhancement on a global basis. Although the process has already yielded positive results, the leadership of Global Learning and Leadership Development at Agilent believes that the company has only begun to tap its full potential.
SYSTEMIC CHANGE IS NEEDED
An important caveat: Introducing follow-through and moving the finish line cannot succeed as an isolated initiative. It needs to be approached strategically and systemically. At Agilent, this depth of approach has been facilitated by a process called the "6Ds(tm)" and by a Web-based management tool.
A Six-Discipline Model
Figure 1.1 illustrates 6Ds, a model of disciplines that has proved useful in turning corporate learning into business results as Agilent has thought through all the factors that affect learning transfer and business impact.
Looking at the 6Ds, Agilent's global learning group realized it had done an excellent job on the first three disciplines: defining the needs of the business, designing the experience, and delivering a high-quality program aimed at application. However, they also saw they had not given enough thought to the last three in the value chain: driving follow-through and application, deploying active support following the program, and documenting results. Accepting the adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, Agilent focused on ensuring follow-through, providing support, and tracking results in order to strengthen the overall chain and increase the program's impact.
Another important component of Agilent's approach is an innovative Web-based Follow-Through Management(tm) system called Friday5s, developed by the Fort Hill Company in Montchanin, Delaware. An overview of the process is as follows:
1. On the last day of the program, participants are asked to write two objectives for how they will apply what they have learned in the program to their jobs. Unlike most programs, where these objectives are simply retained by the participants, Agilent collects each person's objectives and has them entered into the follow-through system database.
2. One week after the program, the follow-through system sends a copy of each participant's goals to his or her manager with a request that the manager provide feedback and support for each achievement. The manager is provided with a link to an online form to provide written feedback on the goals as appropriate.
3. One week after the program, and then every other week for a total of five times, participants are asked to complete a brief update online, reporting on the progress that they have made as well as what they intend to do next.
4. Each time a participant completes an update, he or she can forward a copy to his or her manager or coach for feedback. Participants also have access to the updates of other members of their cohort. The facilitators who lead the class have access to the updates of all the group members and are able to monitor progress and provide coaching electronically.
NEW ROLES AND NEW RESPONSIBILITIES
As part of the mission of Global Learning and Leadership Development, encouraging follow-through and providing ongoing support have had a profound and potentially revolutionary impact on Agilent. It has taken the company to a whole new level of thinking about what and how training and development should contribute to its health. It has changed the way Agilent thinks about partnership with businesses, managers, and participants.
In particular, it became apparent that learning must become "part of the work" of the participants, rather than taking place "apart from their work." The old paradigm at Agilent was to take people off to an experience where they talked about how they would apply what they had learned. Agilent even had them write action plans, but the whole process was mostly lip service. Without a system to encourage follow-through, the actual application was low; once the course was over, people tended to put their notebooks on the shelf and return to business as usual.
Now Agilent is committed to ensuring that development experiences are tied to actual accountabilities, that program participants' goals for applying what they learned are things that they are already accountable for, as opposed to something separate from their work. This commitment forces participants to better align learning with their own personal goals. While this change sounds simple, it is actually a profound change, and a best practice skill.
Agilent's Global Learning and Leadership Development group finds its approach much more powerful than much of what passes for "action learning," which can quickly deteriorate into "just another project." In the group's experience, the ability to track the program follow-through by documenting its application to work, behavior change, and results provides much greater insight into the impact of Agilent's programs than what can be seen in other learning organizations.
The vast majority of learning programs conclude with an evaluation of the course as participants walk out the door. The learning "dashboard" in such companies consists of a single instrument labeled "how they liked the course," an unreliable indicator as to how well the learning will be applied. The follow-through system that Agilent has implemented provides a much richer "instrument panel" with which to guide the program and make course corrections and improvements. The system includes reports and graphs that make it possible to analyze the quality and distribution of learning objectives; the frequency and thoughtfulness of updates; the quality and frequency of coaching; the most important "lessons learned" in the course and on the job; and the examples of achievement that are a direct consequence of the program.
Redefining the finish line from the last day of class to the delivery of results has altered virtually every role in the learning process, from the employees who participate and their managers to program managers, facilitators, and sponsors.
Employees become more responsible for their own development when application and results are clearly expected and when the learning organization follows through in a meaningful way. They realize they are expected to use what they learn rather than just attend and listen. Because program participants are reminded and supported to turn what they learn into action after their course, they become active doers rather than passive receptacles. Learning is integrated with what they are accountable for, rather than being a distinct and disconnected exercise, and results are achieved. Exhibit 1.1 provides three examples of how participants view their achievements.
The expectation of results and the purposeful engagement of the manager in goals and feedback changes and deepens participants' relationship with their managers. Comments from managers to participants take place at a whole new level, as Exhibit 1.2 illustrates.
Excerpted from Leading the Global Workforce by Phil Harkins Excerpted by permission.
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1. Agilent Technologies: Global Leadership Training with an On-the-Job Focus (Teresa Roche and Cal Wick).
2. The Boppy Company: Optimizing a Global Workforce (Brian Wilkerson and Teresa Mead).
3. Colgate-Palmolive Company: Globally Valuing People (Donna B. McNamara, Mitra Chappell, and Robert S. Browning).
4. The Dow Chemical Company: Recognizing and Developing Top Talent (Robert E. Tucker and Marcia L. Thomas).
5. InterContinental Hotels Group: Aligning Leadership around a Single Global Strategy (Andrew Simpson and James Dowling).
6. Johnson & Johnson: Training Global Leaders for Supply Chain Innovation (Maya Hu-Chan, Charles Bergman, and Michael Frugé).
7. McDonald’s Corporation: Improving a Global Leadership Talent Development and Management System (James Intagliata, Neal Kulick, and Donald Crosby).
8. Motorola University: Transferring Skills through Strategic Alliance (Xiaozhen Yan and William J. Rothwell).
9. Pfizer Inc: A Behavior-Based Approach to Training Leaders in Transition (Betsy Blee, Joe Bonito, and Robert E. Tucker).
10. Tower Automotive, Inc.: Global Relocation of Technical Services (Kishen Kavikondala).
11. UNICEF: Globally Developing In-House Careers (Rudolph Messinger and William J. Rothwell).
12. Verizon Dominicana: Empowering Leadership Teams (Mark Sobol and Jorge Iván Ramírez).
13. Volvo: A Global Shared Learning Program for Three Brands (Nilou Sardari, Ulf Jeverstam, and Greg Zlevor).
14. Wyeth: Evolving Forms of Global Leadership Training and Follow-Up (Tim Fidler, Jeffrey Peris, and David Giber).
Appendix: About Linkage and the Summit.
About the Editors.