To say Procter & Gamble NA CBD Capability (P&G) is a learning organization aligned to the business would be an understatement. In a way, it is the business.
CBD stands for customer business development, a sales function within the company; the capability team is the unit within CBD responsible for training the sales division. That’s in addition to a companywide learning and development function driven through human resources. Any increase in development is likely to result in a sales boost, which in turn adds to bottom-line growth.
Further, the top L&D professionals charged with leading the team are sales people first. They managed customers early in their careers and then became L&D professionals. The other functional business divisions within P&G operate in a comparable vein.
Either way, the mission and values for the organization are the same as with many among the LearningElite: to deliver learning that is relevant, timely, targeted and measurable.
Walter Knox, P&G’s North America CBD Capability leader, said to ensure the function’s development goals are met its learning team follows a standardized industry framework of preparation, follow-through and evaluation — also known as “Prep up, step up and follow up.”
What sets the capability team apart in its approach to the framework, however, is the level to which it requires individual team members and managers to be engaged in the development process.
“The employee identifies what it is that he or she needs to learn in order to deliver his or her business results,” Knox said, referencing the brand of employee-driven ownership the capability team emphasizes.
Also important is the level of manager engagement in the individual development process. Once people identify the areas in which they need to grow in their sales role, their manager is brought in to map out a course for learning. Knox said this level of manager engagement is pivotal — and noteworthy — to the capability team’s approach to training.
The capability team then offers a blended approach during the actual follow-through, or step up phase of an individual’s development. Depending on the individual’s learning needs and path mapped out with his or her manager, Knox said content delivery could happen in a classroom, virtually, in a podcast or other medium.
The real nuts and bolts of the P&G capability team’s strategy come through its measurement and follow-up, said Beth White Marshall, the measurement and evaluations analyst for the capability team.
The first measurement benchmark comes after an individual’s learning plan. The employee fills out a training evaluation, and those results are then benchmarked against other global companies. Knox said the employee and manager also sit down to discuss what was learned as well as how the plans apply learning to specific business objectives discussed in the preparation phase.
Roughly 45 days later, the capability team does a follow-up. The team sends the individual a note asking how he or she has applied learning to the job. It continues to track learning effectiveness via an online tracking system, which monitors the individual’s progress and evaluates whether performance improvements led to increased sales.
The capability team continuously evaluates the effectiveness of each learning program. It does a comprehensive review after each program is completed — annually for classroom programs, but reviews are quarterly or ongoing for e-learning and other forms. Knox said the team also holds a quarterly meeting with senior leaders to present and review scorecards and metrics on each program.
In 2012, the capability team conducted an impact study showing sales are estimated to increase by up to 3.84 percent as a result of training. In terms of return on investment, the team said its values have exceeded its own internal standard.
“We are a culture of learning,” Knox said. “We are a learning organization. And so our overall objective is to make sure that we have an inspired and enabled agile group of learners, thinkers and doers.”