The Business Partnership Award is for learning departments that have partnered in a progressive way with business partners or external organizational divisions and functions such as the sales and marketing department or external customer groups to develop and deliver a targeted employee development program that supports the partner’s goals.
DIVISION 1: For companies with 10,000 employees or more
General Motors Center of Learning
General Motors needed to think big to support the learning needs of its 180,000 employees. The automaker wanted to completely revamp its learning business model from something primarily supported by training on a local or regional basis to something that was consistent across the globe. This was vital to correcting the inconsistencies and inefficiencies in training delivery and development in different areas and to effectively create content that could be reused globally.
To accomplish this, GM had to develop successful partnerships with regional learning leaders and business partners. It developed an initiative called the Global Learning Network that consisted of learning leaders from around the world. Several company training leaders traveled to meet face-to-face with regional training leaders in order to understand their training function. From there, GM brought these regional leaders together in a learning workshop to discuss the findings of this tour.
A GLN leader was also chosen to be responsible for communicating global priorities to all regions, deciding how to use GM’s resources, and relaying messages and feedback from the regions to company leaders.
The broader GLN governance group met and developed a clear vision and mission: to build a high-impact learning organization that serves as a globally integrated business partner to deliver excellence in customer experience and drive business results. The group also developed a common learning infrastructure and focused on collaboration from the very beginning to ensure a smooth start. Finally, it partnered with GP Strategies, a Maryland-based company that provides sales and technical training, to help with training delivery.
Thanks to the GLN, regional learning leaders now act under a common mission. It has improved the effectiveness of training, developed a forum in which regional leaders can communicate and share best practices and created a process that allows for the sharing and reuse of training material, which is estimated to have save GM $1 million in costs.
Financial service organization BNY Mellon regularly evaluates how its services and offerings align with its clients’ evolving needs, and in 2015 it discovered something new its clients wanted: strategic partnerships to improve complex problem-solving. So, it began on a multiyear journey of transformation.
Executive leadership acknowledged the need to better position the company as its clients’ strategic partner in order to grow and improve its client relationships, and BNY Mellon adopted a set of research-supported best practices called the Client Experience Program in 2016. CEP involves several key components including strategic account planning, active listening, coaching and providing feedback, and creating a common language for client communication. It aims to make the business development process more consistent and transform the relationship with the client. BNY also created a team called the Client Experience Group to help drive the initiative.
The program has received positive feedback, including high levels of engagement from participants and encouraging feedback from clients about how well-prepared the BNY Mellon teams are and how excellent their thought-processes are in tackling problems. In addition, BNY employees feel better about the new way they prepare for meetings and are enthusiastic about how much more impactful their client interactions are now.
After it was acquired by Everise Holdings in December 2016, C3, or Customer Contact Channel, needed to redefine its organizational culture. C3 provides outsourced customer management solutions and developed an initiative called Progressively Achieving Career Experience. PACE identified and provided learning content for five key roles at C3 — agent, supervisor, trainer, quality assurance representative and workforce management — and was developed to fill positions internally.
PACE has proven to be a success for new employees getting used to the organization and its culture and for older employees interested in career progression. Meanwhile, its library of 326 custom online courses and 65 instructor-led courses continues to grow.
Dell EMC Education Services had a problem with training delivery: low net promoter scores for the outsourced partners around the world who take care of customer service. So Education Services partnered with Metrics That Matter in 2017 to deploy surveys and collect data to discover areas of improvement. The analysis found that learners saw training delivery as the main contributor to low NPS and highlighted two critical areas that needed improvement — new-hire training and road map training. Dell EMC Education Services created and launched a new certification framework focused on learner experience and providing extensive feedback so that trainers can improve the training they deliver. As a result of this initiative, NPS improved by 24 percent over the course of the year.
DIVISION 2: For companies with less than 10,000 employees
Most students who attend and graduate from the Alamo Colleges in Texas go on to stay in the area and contribute to the regional economy. However, many of the students at this community college face major hurdles to graduation, such as needing to study part-time because of family and work responsibilities, and completing their degree has often been an elusive goal.
Alamo Colleges, grasping the core belief that its success is measured by the success of its students, developed the Student Success Completion Program in order to increase the number of degrees and certificates that students earn. This required a partnership among the five colleges across the community college network, all of whom worked toward a common goal, known as the Wildly Important Goal, or WIG.
This was a multiyear effort, beginning in 2013, when community stakeholders, the business community and Alamo senior leadership convened to discuss what challenges students were facing and brainstorm potential strategies to address those challenges. In 2015, the college network accelerated the training involved in WIG and achieving those goals. Alamo Colleges cemented WIG’s place from the top down by including it on the agenda of board of trustees meetings and senior leadership meetings and including it in training for both new and current employees. The organization also made sure to publicly celebrate results to boost morale.
Alamo Colleges used to place last in number of degrees and certificates earned across all community colleges in Texas; now it’s taken over as the No. 1 producer of degrees. That’s a change from 7,147 degrees/ certificates in 2014 to 12,759 in 2017. The community college network has also seen a rise in employee engagement and satisfaction. Additionally, Alamo Colleges became a member of the Achieving the Dream network, a network of more than 220 community colleges whose goal is to help low-income students and students of color achieve success.
E. & J. Gallo Winery
The future-thinking E. & J. Gallo Winery looked at its manufacturing process and realized it needed to ensure that it would continually have a workforce with the skills needed in a manufacturing environment that is constantly changing due to technological advancements like automation and robotics.
Gallo looked toward high schools and created a talent pipeline program that includes capstone programs for high school students and a manufacturing internship program for recent high school graduates. Part of this strategic workforce development strategy was creating a partnership with several California school districts, including Modesto, Hughson and Turlock, and holding a summit where leaders from these districts could meet with Gallo and start developing plans.
Gallo considered how it could best partner with each individual district rather than creating a one-size-fits-all solution. Two of these programs for different districts include the Manufacturing Practicum for Modesto and the Gateway to Industry Program for Ceres.
Students who complete the high school program can go on to apply for a 12-week internship program and from there are eligible for entry-level manufacturing jobs.
Launched in 2014, the learning initiative has resulted in 230 high school students completing the program. Fifty-nine have become interns and 44 have been placed in permanent positions. Also, the Manufacturing Pipeline Program has grown to support up to 50 interns a year.
Attracting and retaining clients is important to any successful lawyer, but the skills involved in this don’t always come naturally, and when a lawyer is handling a high-stakes matter, on-the-job learning just doesn’t cut it. So Sidley Austin’s learning team partnered with firm leaders to create the Litigation Skills Practice Series, a comprehensive, multiyear curriculum that has helped improve the skills of lawyers, paralegals, consultants and more through a mixture of classroom learning, hands-on simulations, personalized feedback and coaching. Since 2016, more than 85 teams and 100 lawyers have participated in this training, and firm leaders have benefited as well and earned nearly 800 hours of continuing legal education credit.