Agile Career Development: Lessons and Approaches from IBM, Portable Documents

Agile Career Development: Lessons and Approaches from IBM, Portable Documents

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Supercharge Performance by Linking Employee-Driven Career Development with Business Goals


How do you make career development work for both the employee and the business? IBM® has done it by tightly linking employee-driven career development programs with corporate goals. In Agile Career Development , three of IBM’s leading HR innovators show how IBM has accomplished this by illustrating various lessons and approaches that can be applied to other organizations as well. This book is for every HR professional, learning or training manager, executive, strategist, and any other business leader who wants to create a high performing organization.


“In the 21st century, there will be an increasing competitive need for any company to operate as a globally integrated enterprise that can effectively develop and then tap the skills and capabilities of its workforce anywhere in the world. In IBM, we have worked to enable a workforce that is adaptive, flexible, and capable of responding to changes in the marketplace and the needs of our clients. Agile Career Development shows how focusing on career development opportunities and guidance for employees is a key factor in our business strategy and a major source of value for IBM employees. This book can be used as a guide to any organization that is seeking to find practical ways to develop the talent of its workforce.”

J. Randall MacDonald, Senior Vice President, IBM Human Resources


“This book highlights tried and true best practices developed at a company known the world over for active dedication to their workforce. Mary Ann, Diana, and Sheila have captured the key issues that will enhance and streamline your career development program and, subsequently, increase employee engagement, retention, and productivity. I particularly like their practical, real-life understanding of the barriers to most career development programs and the manageable framework to bring career growth to life. They also teach us how to make a business case for career development–critical in creating the foundation for a sustainable program. This includes a good blend of benefits both for the individual employee and the organization as a whole. I only wish I had this book available to me years ago when I was managing a career development program!”

Jim Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., author of Implementing the Four Levels of Transferring Learning to Behavior

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780137042982
Publisher: Pearson Education
Publication date: 08/17/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Mary Ann Bopp, Manager of Career Development in IBM’s Center for Learning and Development, leads design, development, and deployment of numerous IBM global career development initiatives and related processes. She has 21 years of corporate education, training, performance consulting, and project management experience, as well as 10 years of management accounting experience.


Diana A. Bing recently retired as IBM’s Director for Professional Development and Enterprise Learning after 31 years with the company. She led IBM’s strategic efforts to plan and deliver programs that develop IBM’s employees and enrich the company. She currently is an executive and professional coach, supports nonprofits, and is involved in developing programs regarding women and diversity.


Sheila Forte-Trammell, Learning Consultant in IBM’s Center for Learning and Development, has held HR positions ranging from Placement Counselor and Recruiting to Multicultural People in Technology Program Manager. She has had responsibility as a Human Resources Partner and for several of IBM’s career development programs. She is now focused on expanding IBM’s Global Mentoring Program as a business imperative across the many borders of IBM’s employee population.


Sheila Forte-Trammell and Diana A. Bing are coauthors of Intelligent Mentoring: How IBM Creates Value through People, Knowledge, and Relationships.

Table of Contents

Foreword xvii

Acknowledgments xxi

About the Authors xxiii

Chapter 1 Having the Right Skills in the Right Place at the Right Time 3

Career Development? Who Cares? You Should. 4

Why Career Development Is Paramount to a Company’s Strategy 6

Change, Complexity, and Globalization 7

Career Development Impacts the Bottom Line 9

Models for Career Development 12

Develop Strategy 14

Attract and Retain Talent 15

Motivate and Develop 15

Deploy and Manage 16

Connect and Enable 16

Transform and Sustain 17

The IBM Approach: Essential Components of Career Development 17

Responsive and Resilient Workforce 18

Linking Performance Management to Career Development 19

Learning and Development 19

Collaboration and Innovation 20

Summary 21

Endnotes 22

Chapter 2 Enabling Career Advancement 25

Why Employees Leave...and the Connection to Career Progression 25

A Case for Change at IBM 30

The Transformation Begins 30

Career Programs Initiated 31

The Definition of a Career Framework 33

The Definition of a Career 33

Setting the Baseline for Expertise Management 36

Competencies and Associated Behaviors 37

Skills that Align to Specific Job Roles 39

Developing Capabilities 40

Summary 41

Endnotes 42

Chapter 3 Defining the Career Development Process 45

Introduction 45

What Is Career Development Anyway? 46

The Benefits of Career Development 48

Benefits to Employees 48

Benefits to Managers 49

Benefits to Clients 50

Benefits to Shareholders 50

Flexibility Needed in Career Development 51

Organizational Differences 51

Learning Style Differences 52

Employee Needs 52

Strategy as the Driving Force Behind the Career Development Process 53

IBM Values as the Foundation of How Employees Act and Develop Themselves 53

Traveling the Road to Career Development 54

Company Business Strategy and Goals 54

Personal Goals and Aspirations 56

Career Opportunities in the Company 56

A Partnership Between the Organization, Managers, and Employees 57

The Career Development Process: An Overview 58

Selecting and Developing New Employees 58

New Employee Orientation Program 60

Assessing Levels of Expertise 62

Growing Levels of Capabilities 63

Creating Meaningful Development Plans 63

Supplementing Development Plans with Experience-based Learning 64

Measuring Success 65

Summary 66

Endnotes 67

Chapter 4 Selecting the Best Talent and Developing New Employees 71

The Changing Landscape for New Employees 71

Actions for Onboarding Success 75

Selecting Talent 78

Onboarding New Employees 82

The Evolution of IBM’s Onboarding Program 82

Orienting and Developing New Employees 85

Pre-Hire 85

New Employee Orientation Program 86

Touchpoint Calls 90

Engaging Managers in the Process 90

Helping New Employees Beyond the Learning 91

Onboarding for Supplemental Employees 93

Measuring Success 93

The Journey Continues 94

Summary 97

Endnotes 97

Chapter 5 Assessing Levels of Expertise and Taking Action to Drive Business Success 101

General Overview 101

Assessing the Organization’s Expertise Portfolio–An Ongoing Business Necessity 103

Aligning Expertise Management with Business Strategy 105

Aligning Employee Interests and Career Aspirations with Skills Forecasting 108

Tools and Practices to Support the Development of Expertise 109

Employee Succession Planning–Strategically Important to the Business 111

Changing Workforce Demographics–A Factor to Be Assessed 114

Varying Approaches to Managing Talent and Skills to Build the Enterprise of the Future–What Drives IBM? 117

Incubating Talent for Business Success–The IBM Way 118

Removing the Mystery from Career Development–IBM Defines a Holistic Approach 119

Summary 121

Endnotes 121

Chapter 6 Building Employee and Organizational Capability 125

Changing Dynamics and Its Impact on Growing Capability 125

Building Careers 127

Considering Employee Needs When Creating Meaningful Careers 128

Flexible Career Paths as an Essential Element of Career Development 129

The Generalist Versus the Versatilist 130

Defining Job Roles as the Basis for Career Paths 132

Putting Career Paths into Action 138

Gaining the Right Experiences to Build Capability for Career Advancement 142

The Components of the Career Framework 143

Managerial Career Paths 145

Summary 146

Endnotes 148

Chapter 7 Creating Meaningful Development Plans 151

Having the Right Skills 151

Road Map or GPS? 152

The Purpose of Career Development Plans and Why They Are Important 153

Characteristics of Effective Career Development Plans 154

Personalizing Career Development Plans 155

Focusing on Specific Development Needs 155

Making the Plans Practical 156

Integrating On-the-Job Learning Experiences 157

“Owning” the Development Plan 157

Development Plans as a Living Process 157

Emphasizing Mentoring, Coaching, and Personal Feedback 158

Career Development Plans at IBM 158

Preparing for the Development Discussion 159

Holding the Development Discussion 160

Software Engineer, Richard Wang 162

Human Resource Generalist, Bonnie Lawson 165

Future Directions for Career Development Plans at IBM 168

Summary 169

Endnotes 170

Chapter 8 Linking Collaborative Learning Activities to Development Plans 173

Overview 173

Collaborative Learning–A Catalyst for Knowledge Transfer 177

Setting the Stage for Team Synergy–A Critical Factor in Collaborative Learning 178

IBM Values–An Anchoring Point for Innovative Career Development Options 180

Career Development at IBM 182

Employee Perspective #1 182

Employee Perspective #2 184

Exploring Ways IBM Uses Innovative Approaches to Facilitate Learning and Development 185

Looking at IBM’s Experiential Learning Portfolio in More Detail 186

Other Experiential Learning Options 191

Job Rotation 191

Stretch Assignments 192

Job Shadowing 194

Cross-Unit Projects 195

Patents and Publications 196

Summary 197

Endnotes 197

Chapter 9 Measuring Success 201

The Importance of Measurement 201

Measuring the Success of Career Development Programs 203

Initial Questions to Ask 203

Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges 204

Levels and Impact of Measurement 205

Measuring Career Development at IBM 208

New Employee Orientation Measurement Process 210

Program Overview 210

Phase One: Time-Series Evaluation Design 211

Phase Two: Steady-State Evaluation Stage 211

Post-Classroom Survey 212

Interviews with Participants, Buddies, and Managers 212

Sample 1: Participants 212

Sample 2: Managers 213

Sample 3: Buddies 213

Interview Protocols 213

Sales Training Measurement Process 216

Program Overview 217

Results of New Sales Training 219

Lessons Learned 222

Other Measurements at IBM 224

Experience-based Learning Measurement Process 224

Measuring Impact and Effectiveness 225

Global Mentoring Program 226

Collective Measurement of Career Development Programs at IBM 229

Career Development: The Difference It Can Make 230

Endnotes 232

Index 235

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