Scorecards, Strategies and Systems for Training to Support Business Goals

Peggy O'Brien

Peggy O'Brien, Vice President of the Learning and Performance Center at Covance, shares her company's strategies for aligning employee development with the business goals, how to measure the viability of learning programs, and more.

Can you describe the steps involved in your annual process of aligning talent development goals to long and short term business objectives?

The business strategy is reviewed on an annual basis. Once that is completed, the business goals are identified that will help achieve the strategy. Once business goals are identified the talent/people goals are created. Those are "rolled" up to help create the HR strategy. In our function, Global Talent Management, we pull from the HR strategy the objectives that we are responsible for. We have a mix of long and short term objectives based on the scope of the objective, as well as if there is an investment that needs to be made.

At what stage do you believe the onboarding and employee development process actually begins, and how does Covance focus their training and development efforts from the very beginning?

Our process begins at the time that the offer is accepted and runs through day 90. We have a training curriculum for the key roles in the organization (those roles that we recruit for the most frequently).

Another part of the process includes a check list that outlines what the manager’s role is with the new employee. A "buddy" is also identified to work with the new employee.

We are moving the learning plan to our LMS so that it will be ready to go when the new hire starts.

Can you tell us about your individual development plan and how this abets both employee and company goals?

Annually employees and managers sit down and discuss development needed for the individual. Goals are identified to address development needs. These are reviewed mid-year and year end. The Individual Development Plan (IDP) can focus on a current role or a future role. Employees are evaluated on progress made on both company and individual goals.

IDPs really focus on what the individual needs/wants to develop for their current role as well as for future roles they are interested in. By investing in what the employee wants to develop we will have a stronger workforce which is a very positive selling point for our clients.
Covance is a large global company—how do you reach people regardless of where they work?

We use an approach called 70-20-10. This approach puts the emphasis on how the most impactful development occurs. Most people learn best from on the job experiences (70 percent). The second best way to learn is by receiving feedback (20 percent) and lastly 10 percent related to training they take. This approach can be applied regardless of where the person works.

We are also increasing our blended learning approach (eLearning, WebEx, classroom) so we have more options to reach that global audience.

Can you describe your company’s Learning Management System (LMS) and how you selected which processes to automate based on your company’s needs?

We use Plateau for our LMS. The key driver to automating this process was because we work in a highly regulated environment we needed a more robust way to track training and reach our global audience.

We are still in the early days but we are evaluating how easy it is to pull training records when regulatory agencies or clients come in to review our work. We are also tracking how many resources are needed to run the process (we have reduced the number of people involved in tracking the training by centralizing some of the data entry).

The LMS allows us to more easily make content available for global audiences and that didn’t exist before (and track that they completed it if it was a regulatory requirement)

Why are your management development programs effective?

We started with the programs that have the biggest investment and targeted the managers of the attendees of those programs. We use data to show how important the application piece is to transfer of learning. We also try to highlight those managers who do this really well as a way to encourage this amongst their peers. We certainly still have a lot of work to do in this area but we continue to find ways to take small steps.

Our most effective management programs are those that have an application component and that have manager support and follow up as part of the process. We are building in more rigor on all of our programs as this has been a critical success factor.

How do you measure the value of the investments you are making in learning and development in the organization?

We have a comprehensive scorecard that outlines how our function is doing (NPS score, efficiency, and effectiveness metrics). I personally meet quarterly with our key executives to review their value story.

Our metrics are pulled from our LMS and captured in an Excel spreadsheet that feeds our visual dashboard. The dashboard is on our website and leaders can see this information whenever they want. We know that they may not always take the time to view it, so at a minimum on a quarterly basis I sit down with them and cover how the Learning and Performance Center did overall with customer satisfaction, efficiency (number of people we served) and how effective we were with the services we provided (level two and sometimes three). I also review our budget and if we stayed on target. Lastly, I review what is coming in the next quarter for their business and it gives them the opportunity to add and/or change things. We started with the programs that can have the biggest impact and targeted the managers. We certainly have a lot of work to do in this area but we continue to find ways to take small steps and invest in our leaders.

Interview conducted by Alexandra Guadagno.