At Wells Fargo, employees are seen as the competitive advantage to achieve business success for customers, shareholders and for the company to achieve its One Wells Fargo united mission. Because of this, the company’s CEO John Stumpf believes one contributor to business success is the development and utilization of the strengths of all team members, especially leaders. Stumpf brought Cara Peck, head of enterprise talent planning and development services at Wells Fargo, on late last year to communicate the company’s vision, mission, goals and implementation strategies to internal customers, provide resources to assist employee development planning and identify and communicate organizational opportunities. Peck tells Chief Learning Officer magazine how she does this.
How did you get here? Give us some background information.
I’ve been with Wells Fargo almost 13 years and this is a new role for me. Before this I was head of intermediary sales for Wells Fargo Funds Management.
After the merger between Wachovia and Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, our CEO, and his operating committee really wanted to focus on leadership and the next generation of One Wells Fargo leaders and how we would accomplish the goal of uniting and building our top performers.
Wells Fargo was more of a decentralized organization, whereas Wachovia was a centralized organization, and bringing the two together, we had a bit of a fragmentation on how we approach leadership development. It was decided to create a corporate center of excellence around leadership and professional development using core and common platforms on how we develop our leaders. This mandate came down from John Stumpf and the operating committee in the beginning of 2011. I was hired out of the sales business at Wells Fargo on July 1, 2011, and we just launched the corporate center on January 1, 2012.
In addition to monitoring that process, I also own the office of talent management. It’s a nice partnership between the two — learning and development and talent management — because it allows us to have a lot of conversation around how we are developing our leaders, in particular, the leaders identified as succession to the operating committee or more senior roles at the enterprise.
We also decided while functional product training should stay within each line of business, that we would aggregate all of that into one back office infrastructure for the entire enterprise, so we could do all the logistics, learning, Web development and design as well as metrics and analytics and vendor management in one location. It’s a big initiative, and we’re still evolving that. The aggregation of the back office will happen in the second quarter of this year. We’ll be complete with bringing all of the people processes together in one organization in late spring.
Why was leadership development and aggregating that training seen as so important?
We didn’t have a core and common language around our leadership approach and philosophy because we had 84 different businesses coming together through various different acquisitions. While Wachovia and Wells Fargo was obviously the most successful financial merger in history, we have had other acquisitions and mergers in both legacy businesses over the past decade, so there were a lot of people that were doing various different competency models. We also noted, as we took a look across our organization, that we didn’t have a lot of talent rotation, and we really wanted to start rotating talent more. To do that, it’s a lot easier if we had a core and common platform where we all focus on the same leadership competencies, behaviors and what we really want to accomplish. This is critically important for our future.
Personally, how did you work to get a seat at the proverbial table?
It was a decision made across the enterprise, so it has been pretty easy. The best way has been to make the business case for learning and development and why it’s critically important.
First of all, we’re an international company, so we’ve changed and transformed both organizations, and we have to look at that and say, “What are those implications?” It’s really important for us to continue being successful in places where we’ve been successful, which is to cross-sell. In order to cross-sell and really look at our customer and make sure we are customer-centric, we have to have a broader view of what we as an organization can deliver.
Creating a corporate center does a couple of things: One, as I mentioned, the core and common and language, but two, it allows people to come together from different lines of businesses and really develop and learn from each other, which we haven’t done in the past because having a more fragmented approach, you did more intact team training.
How do you work directly with other line leaders?
I partner with a lot of the senior line leaders as well as team member network groups, leadership councils. We’re really understanding their business priorities, our corporation’s business priorities and how we’re tying both the development of our leaders to these priorities as well as tying them to the talent management process. It works both top-down and bottom-up. As you know, when you’re looking at development, we can deliver a lot of solutions and a lot of assessments and tools in coaching, but that’s only going to be 30 percent of it. Seventy percent of it is the experience and how we create those experiences; how do we identify stretch roles, how do we see where there’s good job swaps or talent rotation opportunities.
What do you contribute to conversations about the company’s business strategy?
We have a belief that when team members are leveraging their strengths and core competencies, they’re much more engaged, which creates more satisfied customers, which drives extraordinary business results. That has been a hallmark of our organization, but I do think that one of the things that differentiate us, as most companies, is your people. It’s a commoditized market, so the people that service those products, that help the customer, that think about the future, that innovate and have the strategy, it’s all about us investing developing the talent to deliver on that.
How is all of this changing over time?
Obviously the focus on having a core and common platform around leadership is critical. When we’re talking the same language and we can weave it into the work we’re doing, it just makes it a much more consistent experience for all of our team members and a lot easier for us to rotate talent.
Looking at some of the development solutions that we’re working through right now, they have a classroom component and virtual component. Then, using a collaboration tool, the group of team members stays in touch. They’re together for at least six months in different forms and fashions. As we do know from ROI, the more we can reiterate the concepts that are learned within the first 30-60-90 days, the better return investment and the knowledge is retained by the team member.
What tips do you have for learning leaders still working to get a seat at the table?
I feel like I’m in a business. Talent development is a business. I use business language. I prioritize my work around the business.
What I want to do right now is measure results, repeat and be willing to be flexible and take a look at various different things that are out there to deliver solutions. I really think about it from a business perspective and how it makes sense to do this, so it has been easy for me to have dialogue with folks around things they want to focus on.
We have all of these businesses and they have their particular approaches to leadership development they love, and we’ve come to one common, core framework. We talk to each business and discuss what their outcomes have been, how their metrics compare to other lines of business and make sure they’re getting their needs met — otherwise we’ll change to a different solution. I look at the business lines across the organization as my clients and I want to make sure I deliver what they need to drive the outcomes the organization is looking for.
Ladan Nikravan is associate editor of Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at lnikravan@CLOmedia.com.