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Manpower: A Multi-Faceted Approach Boosts Learning
Swan focuses on development at the global level: how to construct specific global task teams, get them up to speed quickly and develop a common training language for leadership development activities in multiple locations. In January when Manpower launched its new strategy and vision at a leadership forum, it meant clearly defining leadership roles and determining appropriate competency models and development needs for leaders. “A lot of it is doing that whole strategic overhaul of our development, our philosophy and how we deploy development in our company,” Swan said. “We’re in the middle of that right now. Typically companies go through phases where you have a strategy from five years ago. We feel like we’ve achieved that, and now we’re looking at where we want to take the company. We have to look at what is the role of our leaders in developing that strategy?”
In keeping with that new strategy, Manpower launched an initiative to help leaders create a more global perspective. Task forces are one aspect of development. “We also use leadership meetings as forums for communication and development of our leaders. That’s worked for us up to this point, and now we need a little bit more structure around that. The first phase of that is to go through the strategy. How we go to market and then how does our leadership support that effort? What do we need to be doing in order to support it? Then we’ll come out with a combination of training courses, people systems and development for our people so that they can grow their skills. We believe in learning and working with your peers, action learning, actually working on a project.”
Many of the details are confidential, but Manpower has four large global team projects that are critical to execution of its strategy. The teams offer cultural training about how people make decisions in other countries to ensure a more productive work start, help people understand basic project management and how to work on a global team where English isn’t the first language. Global development is facilitated by using the company’s succession planning process to identify people for development as well as promotion. “We get one of these projects out of our strategic planning process and say, ‘OK, this project has to have 10 people on it. Let’s go to our global task force list and see who would be best to work on that project.’ We’ll get a cross-functional group from different levels in the organization from different countries. They typically work with an executive sponsor—someone who reports directly to the CEO—who can help frame up the goal, and the time length of the project. Then the task team would work on that project and present it back to the leadership team. It’s been a really effective way of developing our people,” Swan explained, comparing the new format to classroom training, which lacks the real-time, on-the-job-practice component. “We’ve been a global company but have operated fairly regionally oriented. Recently with the competition, our clients are getting more global. You understand the challenge there when people have different ways of making decisions, language issues, all sorts of things. So when they start to work on teams like this, we’ve just seen an incredible amount of power, and I think it’s a good way to check your succession planning process and the identification of your employees with high potential. Training is only good if it’s connected to what you’re trying to achieve. Instead of just focusing on training, I’d like to identify each key role for the company, country manager, branch manager. What are the skills they need and how do we develop the competencies that support those success factors?”
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