From left: The Vanguard Group’s Jacob Pantoja, senior learning and development consultant; Devon Miller, instructional designer; Ann Logan, senior manager; Tamara Ganc, chief learning officer; Krista Moyer, manager of learning and development; and Alison Young, instructional designer.
With the U.S. economic recovery continually gaining steam, The Vanguard Group’s business is moving faster and faster, and its energy comes from its 14,200 employees.
The U.S. investment management company has become the largest fund firm in the United States and a global force in less than 40 years. For the past six years, $1 out of every $2 invested in the U.S. fund industry has come from Vanguard. It’s also the only investment firm that is client-owned.
To understand the company’s overall business strategy, Chief Learning Officer Tamara Ganc said to consider a metaphor — a flywheel spinning in an engine. The flywheel effect is what happens when motion in a consistent direction creates momentum that drives sustained and powerful results.
“Our engaged crew are at the core of the flywheel,” Ganc said. “To keep our crew engaged, we strive to provide a great workplace that’s best-in-class in every dimension, including total rewards and the opportunity to develop and grow professionally.”
Ganc took over as CLO from Sherryann Plesse in July 2014 after more than a decade with the company in various human resources and learning roles. Her first responsibility was to head up a strategy session with senior leaders to look at the future of learning at Vanguard.
“So much of what we do can only be done because of the commitment we have from our leaders,” Ganc said. “One of the seven leadership competencies that all leaders are evaluated against is titled ‘Develop Crew.’ Because professional development is not just encouraged but expected, leaders actively support our culture of learning on a daily basis.”
CEO Bill McNabb shared his philosophy on education in a recent blog post: “Education is one of the best ways to invest in yourself, and one of the best ways for Vanguard to invest in you. I have a great appreciation for learning. I believe there is great value in continually learning, growing and challenging ourselves.”
His dedication is omnipresent. One of the company’s flagship courses is Leading Crew to Success. This five-day course, a requirement for all new people leaders, is facilitated exclusively by adjunct faculty with the oversight and support of Vanguard University. McNabb personally attends the graduation ceremony to encourage the new leaders to apply the knowledge, skills and attitudinal benefits they’ve learned throughout the program.
Learning commitment starts with McNabb, but it doesn’t stop there. Leaders at Vanguard play varied roles within Vanguard University, including full facilitation, small group or individualized coaching, role playing and debriefs with learners. The adjunct faculty pool consists of nearly 500 leaders, more than half of whom are senior leaders, officers and executive staff members. These leaders have spent 3,574 hours in the classroom this year supporting development of employees, whom Vanguard calls “crew.”
In addition to classroom support, leaders at all levels are responsible for engaging their teams. Vanguard is currently working toward a corporate goal for 2020: attaining a 17:1 ratio of engaged to actively disengaged crew, based on surveys administered by Gallup Research.
Since 2010, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged crew has increased 160 percent. Gallup’s research confirmed that a learning culture enables engagement, and the 12th question on Vanguard’s annual engagement survey asks, “In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?” Gallup considers any increase in the mean score at or above 0.20 to be a significant increase. Since 2010, the mean score for “learn and grow” has increased by 0.27.
As Ganc and her 160 team members continue on their journey, they’re keeping learning professionals’ development in mind as well. She said 2015 has been dedicated the “Year of Development” for her crew, and they’ve recently begun holding learning labs to enable crews to engage in new thinking and models, activate core abilities and experience and test new ways to do their jobs.
“Our goal is to stimulate the appropriate exploration, testing, reflection and self-generated insights that are needed to develop a future-minded workforce,” she said.