Kimberly-Clark teaches leaders to dream, grow, and live well

About this Podcast...

Kimberly-Clark is a global company devoted to customer wellness, but the success of its "winning" culture stems from the wellness of its employees. Charlotte Hughes, senior talent management consultant at the company, explains how the People Wheel, a Kimberly-Clark talent management tool, drives performance toward the company’s 2015 global business plan. Divided into seven parts—welcome, dream, grow, win, celebrate, living well, and giving back—the People Wheel teaches leaders to meet expectations laid out as the "One K-C Behaviors."

Other learning tools include Leadership Breakthrough, a program for mid-level managers that encourages knowing oneself before successfully developing your team, and Leadership Essentials, a program for first-time front-line managers, which teaches the fundamentals of goal-setting. While ushering in a new generation of workers who take best to continuous learning, Charlotte explains the processes that ensure K-C’s leaders of tomorrow are both well and well-rounded.

Listen to Charlotte speak on the podcast above, or read a transcript of our talk below. Charlotte will be leading an interactive session at this year’s Corporate Learning Week, November 12-15 in Orlando, Florida. The session, "Aligning Corporate University Outcomes to Business Strategy and Organizational Goals," will take a look at the performance consulting process and how to communicate better with business clients. For more information on Charlotte, please click here.

I know you're session at Corporate Learning Week is about aligning learning to business strategy and organizational goals. Can you give our listeners a taste of what they can expect from your session?

Well, I'm very excited to be facilitating an interactive session titled "Aligning Corporate University Outcomes to Business Strategy and Organization Goals." Now, that's a lengthy title, but in short, the focus is on the power of the performance consulting process. Recent research reveals that the performance consulting process offers several positive outcomes for corporate learning organizations. This approach is not new. It is recognized as a best practice, but it's not widely used. For those who are not familiar with it, performance consulting is a methodology that many high impact learning organizations use to partner with business clients to achieve strategic business results. They accomplish this by optimizing talent performance to support business goals. Some of the benefits of the process include better communication with your business clients, greater alignment of learning and business strategy and more importantly increased leadership support for organizational learning.

What's unique about this session is the focus on technique to better align learning to business goals. We'll explore a mini-case using an enterprise value map. We'll identify the talent performance improvement action that drive enterprise value, such as revenue growth, operating margin, asset efficiency and other organizational expectations. We'll also discuss talent performance gaps and potential causes to determine if it is in fact a lack of knowledge or skill, or something else. Now, the objective is to use a systematic approach to deliver the right solution, so that we achieve our organizational goals. It should be fun and engaging and informative and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Looking a little bit broader, can you let us know what learning and training operations you've focused on in the last year.

Well, at Kimberly-Clark, our focus has been on the development of our leaders with some key programs and competencies that are critical to achieving our goals for 2013 and beyond. Based on our recent engagement survey results, we've made great strides in creating a winning culture. And we continue to bolster leaders capability to drive higher levels of performance to reach our global business plan goals for 2015. Now, one program is targeted to mid-level managers. For those new to the role, this program is titled "Leadership Breakthrough." To rise to the challenge of being a better leader, our participants discover the importance of knowing yourself, developing your team, and expanding your influence. This program has been delivered globally, including Europe and Latin America.

Our second program is leadership essentials. This is for our first time, front-line managers involving fundamentals of goal setting and coaching for performance. There are other development programs that we include, which is change management, team effectiveness, and innovation. Our businesses are continuing to transform, so these are key competency areas we're focused on to build our talent to grow our business.

Following up on the leadership perspective, what kinds of learning technology have been you using at Kimberly-Clark, specifically with these leadership programs that you mentioned?

Well, we use an LMS as a portal for learning content, for experiences and tracking our training program. The benefit for us is that we're able to access and analyze data to support our performance improvement objectives and also make informed decisions to build talent to help us achieve our business goals.

In speaking about learning management, that gets sort of into the talent management perspective. How does learning fit into your overall talent management strategy at Kimberly-Clark?

At Kimberly-Clark, we have a people philosophy. That's in order for us to reach our global business plan for 2015, we are evolving from a lifelong employer to aspire to unleash the power of our people with a more performance driven culture where we have accountability and we reward our fools for their results. So we have expectations for employees that are outlines in what we call our 1 K-C Behaviors. And the People Wheel, which we created, finds that learning is a very important part of that. So there are several elements to that wheel, which includes welcome, dream, grow, win, celebrate, living well and giving back. So that first component is welcome, which is about the onboarding and the diversity of our talent and the diversity of perspectives. And then we encourage our team members to dream and then pursue and fulfill their career aspirations. And then there's the grow concept. We want our folks to grow with our company, in which he highlight the importance of continuous learning.

So at Kimberly-Clark, we provide talent development programs and resources and tools to do just that. And then with our "win," which means "winning culture" and we include accountability in that process, and we define very clearly how work is to be done and then also we celebrate successes. And we live well with a work-life balance. And then we encourage our team members to give back to our communities. So there are several initiatives that support talent management that enable a very dynamic career experience for our team members. And we have a number of resources to heighten and help them with their teams to perform. So, for us, people are afforded an opportunity to grow and thrive and make a difference. And to us, learning fuels that engine of growth for individuals as well as for the organization, so whether our employees are learning from customer insight or from cross team members across organizations and around the globe, we're all working together to be a part of fulfilling those dreams, but also delivering those results through the talent of our people.

You've mentioned the 2015 business plan a few times that analyzes the current state of L&D at Kimberly-Clark. What do you see as the biggest challenges you face in your role as a learning leader today, and how are you addressing those challenges?

I think one of the biggest challenges we have is that our next generation workers are increasing in our organization, so providing learning experiences for this audience in a manner they're accustomed to is a great opportunity. Another challenge is with a global talent base, with a mobile and globally distributed workforce, ongoing feedback is essential to improve our learning solutions. So learning anytime and anywhere, whether it's content, access via mobile devices, and when feasible, in multiple languages becomes a big expectation. So while there may be a more collaborative nature, especially with this younger population, growing our intellectual capital with the right tools and processes is an ongoing challenge, which we continue to explore.

I'm also thinking reverse mentoring is something we're doing more often. It's a way for us to engage, gain feedback and find new perspectives on how to make learning experiences more flexible and to align that with this target audiences needs as well as our business priorities.

Looking toward the future, which is something you're being forced to do more and more with this increasingly younger workforce, what is the biggest emerging trends you see in the learning and training space?

I believe that one trend is learning leaders growing focus on sustainability of learning--finding diverse ways to ensure that initial programs have long-term impacts is a creative challenge, particularly for this audience. Using a variety of formal, informal and social learning approaches makes sustainability possible, but the key is to have a strategy in place and to be able to execute it. Having the ability to establish successful communities of practice, to routinely launch action learning programs or problem solving on strategic issues and to be able to curate and share relevant just-in-time content quickly is becoming the norm. So for this audience, and for all of our employees, knowledge sharing and the use of technology platforms are powerful ways to sustain learning. These are tools and approaches to creating continuous learning environment, which I believe we can use more often to achieve greater business results.

Before I let you go, what are you most excited about at this year's conference?

I am looking forward to seeing all of the speakers, especially those focused on innovation. Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg of IESE Business School, one of your keynote speakers, will be speaking and I think his topic on innovation as usual will be very interesting. I'm also looking forward to Ashley Goodall of Deloitte to talk about the new leadership framework. Challenging our assumptions about learning and leadership development always intrigues me. So anytime there's an opportunity to continuously improve our workforce capability to drive business results, I consider time well spent.

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