The FTS executive team believes that employees in leadership roles are morededicated to making the business successful and will take the extra steps tosupport the needs of customers. The company’s culture and vision statementsare grounded in a commitment to professional development, leadership, andaccountability, says Steve Becker, chief human capital officer. It is thefoundation of the company’s business strategy and the filter through whichevery management decision is made, he says. “Everyone is expected to take aleadership role, whether they are service reps or management. It’s the mostconstructive way to take on new business challenges and shape the company forthe future.”
That doesn’t mean employees are free to take control and run with their ownideas. The goal is to achieve a balance of freedom and responsibility, he says.Employees have the flexibility to pursue their own ideas--as they relate to thebusiness and the corporate culture--but they are also held accountable fortheir actions. “It creates a culture where people are more likely to investtheir blood, sweat, and tears in the job.”
For example, an important part of the FTS culture is community involvement.“It would be easy for the executive staff to choose some charity andcontribute corporate dollars,” Becker says. Instead, a small group ofemployees is responsible for researching charitable foundations and makingrecommendations. Then the entire employee population votes on which ones theywant to support.
From a business perspective, FTS computer salespeople help clients fitindividual products into their existing software instead of tying to sell them abrand new system. “We want them to help customers drive the costs of theiroperations down,” Becker says.
To support the company’s leadership initiative and to hone employees’decision-making abilities, FTS recently launched the Career Resource Center, aWeb-based training and development system from KnowledgePool. The system guidesemployees and managers through the career-planning process. It tracks skillassessments, maps career goals, and offers competency evaluations to helpemployees build individual development programs. Once a career plan has beencreated, employees have access to more than 200 Web-based training courses,ranging from technical to negotiation and communication skills.
The tool also gives management an easy-to-access overview of the talents andaspirations of all employees for more thorough succession planning. In the past,promotions were based largely on management recommendations, Becker says. Nowthe company has a single database cataloging the skills of the entirepopulation, which allows for a more informed, less prejudicial selectionprocess.
The tool is the infrastructure, he says, but employees are expected to takethe initiative to use it. With the career-planning feature, employees can settheir sights on job promotion and actively develop skills to meet therequirements of that role.
Although the Center has been in place only a few months, employees arepleased that the company is actively supporting their desire to pursue careergoals, Becker says. “When employees know that you value them and thecontributions they can make, you create a winning culture in which everyone isexcited about delivering their best.”
Workforce, October 2002, p. 83 -- Subscribe Now!