Education ties into many aspects of Seagate Technology, one of the world’s largest producers of disk drives. The California-based company emphasizes development for its employees and tracks their progress in that regard.
“We have a corporate objective that speaks specifically to the development of people,” said Debbie Hancock, vice president of global leadership and learning. “The corporate objective becomes goals, and everybody’s performance evaluation is measured throughout the year. So the expectation is that everyone throughout Seagate has some kind of development goal measure in their overall goal set.”
Further, she said there is another layer of objectives specific within the global leadership and learning organization.
“We have guiding principles that frame the offerings and our learning opportunities that we provide to leaders and all employees,” Hancock said.
According to Maria Wayne, director of leadership development at Seagate, her organization focuses on providing support for a specific strategy that Seagate is implementing worldwide.
“All the programs that we’re rolling out are tied specifically to this strategic initiative, which is related to reorganizing and repositioning Seagate in the marketplace,” Wayne said.
Consistency is key for Seagate training, Hancock and Wayne said, and the company goes to great lengths to ensure all its global employees receive equal training opportunities.
“It is critical that within the global leadership and learning department, we actually provide the same development opportunities globally to everyone,” Hancock said. “As these are rolling out, there are no inconsistencies within the business units that certain people receive X training, and X training wasn’t offered in Europe, but Y training was. We really are very conscientious about providing services globally. Because of that, we want to make certain that the content provided within each of the educational opportunities is consistent, so whenever I have a team meeting and talk about decision making or succession planning, etc., the people in Asia are using the same language, tools and guiding principles as the people in the U.S. and Europe.”
Further, Wayne said a blended approach has been ideal in addressing the challenges that arise with training global employees. She also said there are no instructors on staff at Seagate. Rather, the company looks at its own employees to lead facilitation sessions.
“We are leveraging a ‘leaders as teachers’ methodology, which has been embraced totally within the organization all the way up to the CEO, who teaches in our organization,” Hancock said. “We have roughly 37 percent of all executives — at the VP level and above — who are participating as facilitators.”
The “leaders as teachers” program has been underway since February 2006. As of mid-December, 150 leaders were facilitating sessions, Hancock said.
In addition to leveraging internal expertise, this approach helps control the costs of learning and development, Wayne said.
“Because of the model that we’re using — the blended solution and the ‘leaders as teachers’ — we don’t go to outside vendors to deliver instructional training,” she said. “We do host a line of courses from Harvard, which is a class that is consistent and predictable, forecastable every year. With the blended approach, it’s really no additional cost in terms of specific, separate dollars. It’s just people’s time and salary, which their own company funds anyway. Blended solutions — at least the way we’re implementing them here — allow us to roll out training to 1,000 people, 1,200 people at a time, with no extra costs.”
In addition, Wayne said Seagate doesn’t distribute hard copies of learning materials. Instead, materials are e-mailed or placed in a central depository where participants can access them and print if necessary. This method also has led to cost savings, she said.
Additionally, Hancock said the curriculum will evolve in accordance with Seagate Technology.
“As the company changes and as the strategies evolve and merge into something new, just like the business, we will continue to reflect those new requirements into our overall curriculum,” Hancock said. “That means that the shelf life of these products really isn’t that long. They will be put to bed, and we will be listening to our customers, to the business and picking up on clues and information that will help us continually evolve the curriculum. We’re going to start again and start again and start again.”
– Lisa Rummler, firstname.lastname@example.org