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Have you actually asked your CEO or senior business leaders
to be involved in the training? Before lamenting ...
Creating an employee-first culture has more to it than just
coming up with a catchy motto.A CEO must be committed to the
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Importance & Role of CEO in Development of LO Feb-Mar 2015 MMA Mandate


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Importance & Role of CEO in Development of LO Feb-Mar 2015 MMA Mandate

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Importance & Role of CEO in Development of LO Feb-Mar 2015 MMA Mandate

  1. 1. Introduction Have you actually asked your CEO or senior business leaders to be involved in the training? Before lamenting the absence of senior management support,be sure that you are being direct and asking them to get involved. Let me share a story that was told by the Head of Learning & Development of a client organisation, a large hospitality group in the Asia Pacific Region.The training department was conducting orientation for a group of new employees early on a Saturday morning. The facilitator prepared an excellent agenda and instructional program. The CEO of the organisation, in his office working on other projects,noticed the flurry of incoming vehicles and people. Curious, he sought out the class.The facilitator was shocked when the CEO showed up,and even more shocked when he pulled out a chair and stayed for most of the class. Afterwards, his remarks were candid; his view was that the hospitality staff was the customer’s direct point of contact therefore they have a direct relationship with his (the CEO’s) responsibilities. Nobody from HR or the training centre had ever asked the CEO to get involved! We often hear that organizations widely publicize the fact that talent is their most valuable asset — and that’s often true. However when we have a situation where the employees see a real disconnect between such claims and what actually happens behind closed doors, there are bound to be repercussions in talent engagement and retention. To avoid this, organizations demonstrate to their employees how they’re valued — and this initiative can start at the top, right from the CEO or the Head of the Organisation. IMPORTANCE & ROLE OF THE CEO TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENT OF A LEARNING ORGANISATION Create an “employee- first” culture Putting the customer first has been the mantra of many companies for a long time. But however correct the mantra may have been in the past, perhaps it’s time to question the wisdom of it in the present-day context. Some companies have already done this, that is, they are putting the customer second, after the employees. The results are surprising and enlightening – employees have become more engaged and contented, helping companies post impressive results and get cited for their best practices.Moreover,customers are satisfied.The CEE Results-based Leadership Framework (See Figure 1) presents an operating model and proven approach for putting employees first1 . Steady, long-term competitiveness requires an organization to be committed to putting employees first and developing quality training programs that are linked to its strategic objectives. Without a true commitment to the employees at all levels throughout an organization,the journey to enhance organizational performance will be an elusive adventure. Quality employees equate to organizational success. Unqualified and poorly trained employees equate to organizational failure. Prof Sattar Bawany CEO & C-Suite Master Executive Coach of Centre for Executive Education & Senior Advisor to Eduquest International Institute FIGURE 1: Results-Based Leadership Framework 1 Sattar Bawany, Building High Performance Organisations with Results-based Leadership Framework in Leadership Excellence Essentials, 11.2014 (November 2014), pg. 46- 47. E-copy available as a download at: 2 8 BUSINESS MANDATE | FEB-MAR 2015 Fountainhead of excellence
  2. 2. Creating an employee-first culture has more to it than just coming up with a catchy motto.A CEO must be committed to the development of the employees at the deepest level. This means addressing their needs through increased flexibility in corporate learning and development policies, caring for the employee’s personal and professional development as well as investing in their future by prioritizing promotions from within. CEO’s role in driving a learning organisation CEOs can play an active role in retaining their talent by setting the tone early on that their organization values ongoing, continuous professional development as a means to meet their employees’ future or aspirational goals. Every year, as part of the performance management and career development process, employees should identify a role, or aspect of a role, that interests them.Then, with proper help and guidance from their managers, employees can create a process to learn the skills needed for the role. By placing the onus on the talent to drive their own career development, a CEO can enjoy the rewards of high levels of personal accountability and a thriving learning organization. When an organization undertakes a large training initiative, it’s imperative that the CEO is not only involved in the rollout, but truly believes in the content and its impact. Some of the most successful and enduring training initiatives are those that demonstrate high levels of sponsorship — with company leadership remaining vocal about its importance and tying it to their own development. When the leader “walks the talk,” the message is loud and clear for the rest of the staff — and they are often inspired to follow in the leader’s footsteps. The CEO has to provide general direction for the training function. This goes beyond the typical mission/vision statement rhetoric. A vision does not mean “I want the training department to…” Vision is the CEO’s expression of what the true culture of the organization should be with regard to training, education, and overall improvement of the people within the company. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (GE), had a vision to transform the company using the Six Sigma model. Welch’s vision was for every employee to be trained in the process and have responsibility for at least one project. His US$500 million investment had a 100% return on investment in four years.2 The CEO has to not only have a vision, but also clearly articulate it so that the vision can be implemented successfully. Case Study – Procter & Gamble Quite simply, P&G executives are considered the Navy SEALs of management. This result is in no small measure due to a razor-like focus on internal succession planning at all levels. From its inception 174 years ago, promotion from within has been a hallmark of the company. It places a rigorous process on managers to develop managers below them. In general, your boss can’t be promoted until you are ready to be promoted. P&G scored very high in its internal development program, receiving the maximum points for the percentage of its leaders that are internally recruited as well as being referenced by others as the source of their external talent search. Development encompasses both formal as well as informal training. In 2000, whenA.G. Lafley became CEO, he asked then- COO Bob McDonald to start a general manager college where individuals were taught values-based leadership, a curriculum McDonald himself created. He trains many of these 250 leaders personally. Some outsiders think it crazy that the CEO devotes his own time to this process. “It’s the most valuable resource this company has,” he shoots back. “This is exactly the difference between our company and others.”3 McDonald also personally looks at the performance of the top 300 to 400 executives and reviews the progress of key candidates with the board of directors. The most important element is short feedback loops that include 360-degree reviews where the system tries to prevent derailment. Failure is an option at P&G provided it’s caught early and analysed for what went wrong.“We have assignments that test people, stretch them, but don’t break them,” offers McDonald. “We often put our best people in our toughest jobs and often they may not get great results because of the difficulty of the assignment.” McDonald learned this first- hand when he worked for P&G in Canada. After attending a number of focus groups there, he championed the idea of putting the company’s liquid products in film enviro-packs, which proved to be a non-starter in the marketplace and had to be discontinued. “I learned that what people say in focus groups isn’t what they will necessarily do at the point of purchase,” he says. Like GE, IBM and 3M, P&G sees itself as a learning organization. “We live in aVUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), which makes it impossible to know the future,” McDonald says. “So instead we create a learning system that prizes flexibility and adaptability. The only way to do that is to have an organization that is willing to admit when something goes wrong. “Every year in July, I take 150 leaders from around the world for leadership training at a facility such as West Point or CCL. We have to sharpen our saw each year.We must invest in the leaders and spend $2 billion in R&D and probably half that in leadership, although the company doesn’t parse LD from its other activities.” In addition to on-the-job experience, P&G provide a wealth of technical, functional and leadership skills training. Some programs are offered at career milestones, such as when an employee first takes on the responsibility for managing others or leading an organization.Other programs take managers out of the classroom and into retail stores or even into consumers’ homes. This process not only helps P&G people develop business skills but also deepens their commitment to touching and improving consumers’ lives—P&G’s enduring Purpose. Conclusion Senior managers and chief executives should take on a variety of responsibilities in support of the training function. Corporate leaders that embrace these responsibilities create a culture of learning within the company. Not every CEO will take on these active roles in training and development. However, when you review the list of CEO’s that do take a personal interest in these roles it’s hard to question the logic or benefit of doing so. A CEO that becomes a visionary, sponsor, governor, participant, and representative for their training will find that by elevating their performance, the performance of training and the entire company will follow. 2 Meister, Jeanne C., The CEO-Driven Learning Culture.,Training & Development; Jun 2000; 54, 6; ProQuest Central pg. 52 3 40 Best Companies for Leaders 2012: HowTop Companies Excel in Leadership Development. companies-excel-in-leadership-development.Assessed on 8 December 2014. 2 9 BUSINESS MANDATE | FEB-MAR 2015 Fountainhead of excellence