From left: Procter & Gamble’s Sandra Ballard, performance development and innovation manager; Shelley DeMayo, senior sales manager of competency and initiatives; Walter Knox, associate director; and Leann Tamerius, blended learning manager.
The sales learning team at consumer products company Procter & Gamble Co. is in Chief Learning Officer’s LearningElite Top 10 for the fourth year in a row, propelled by an unwavering commitment to putting the business first and a forward-thinking crop of learning leaders who aim to think a few steps ahead of where the industry currently stands.
While the strategy of P&G’s North American CBD Capability team is much the same as it was last year — when it placed as the fourth-ranked LearningElite organization — there’s a new technological heft in the mix, said Walter Knox, associate director of the company’s North America CBD Capability team.
CBD stands for customer business development, P&G’s sales organization, and the capability team is responsible for training that division. The team is further linked to a business-first mindset because its learning leaders originated from the company’s sales organization, not learning and development.
The team is one of many learning and development teams within the company, each of which is segmented by function to ensure specialty focus. This year the capability team added a new mobile platform to allow the organization to access a variety of interactive content when and where they need it. The team also added new virtual, bite-size learning, which team members describe as adding “focused, interactive content to our leaders.”
“We’re able to offer learning in the form of technology, whether it’s a smartphone or smart pad,” Knox said.
As part of its blending learning approach the capability team also developed the first mobile game in P&G history. “Gross Invoice Value” was designed to enable the company to learn differently via game mechanics turned into real-world scenarios.
In the game as a player makes preferred sales decisions when presented with different scenarios, they’re rewarded with badges; scores are displayed on a leader board. The capability team said the company’s specialty beauty skin care team changed its strategy after playing the game and increased its sales volume by 9 percent as a result.
The capability team is planning to expand the platform to other business areas. Knox said that in 2014-15, the team is also still building off its Li-La-La framework — learning intent, learning action and learning application — for skills development that links directly to the company’s desired business outcomes.
Knox said the learner owns the learning intent phase and is supported by individual managers. The employee also owns the learning action phase, but the capability team works to ensure that all learning tools are grounded in the business strategy and are designed to improve employee performance. Lastly, in the learning application phase both learner and manager discuss the prior stages’ learning and define what on-the-job behavior change is needed to improve the business.
Knox said each phase is effective because of the company’s continued senior leadership support. Some 95 percent of its senior leaders participate in learning events. In the past year P&G’s senior leaders sponsored two initiatives: “L&D 2020” and “Capability Champions,” a program that recognizes managers who actively grow and develop others within the organization.
“P&G is a promote-from-within organization,” Knox said. “Part of the leaders’ responsibility is to be a part of all the learning programs, and part of their role is to deliver their business commitment as well as to develop the organization.”
Moving forward, the P&G sales capability team has set its coming-year priorities in a few areas: business acumen, strategic thinking and coaching. Knox said the team is also planning to expand the extent to which it uses technology to get content in the learners’ hands. “We’re really going to explode this notion of on-demand learning, and how we can, in fact, meet the learner where he or she is.”