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Precision-Targeted Development at HP

July 11, 2007
Related Topics: The HR Profession, Your HR Career
Hewlett Packard vice president and chief learning officer Sam Szteinbaum says it’s difficult to separate leadership development from the overall performance level of the HR function. That’s why HP has set out to do both simultaneously, with the "Best in Class" HR development program it started a year ago.

    HP started out by benchmarking its HR performance against other companies that it perceived as having strong HR functions. Additionally, the computer manufacturer did in-depth assessments of the skills and expertise of its directors and vice presidents in HR and is in the process of conducting a similar analysis of the abilities of its senior managers.

    That detailed profiling of its leaders, HP hopes, will enable the company to customize its development program and get the maximum benefit. "We’re looking not just at individuals’ capabilities, but also at whatever gaps a large number of people have," Szteinbaum says. "That enables us to build targeted solutions and development programs to raise the bar in those areas."

    HP’s initial focus is improving the organizational effectiveness of its HR leaders by improving their competence in the areas of organizational diagnostics, business analytics, business transformation and influencing skills. "We want them to become trusted advisors to the businesses they’re involved with," Szteinbaum says.

    HP aims to accomplish that through a yearlong training program for 80 of its high-potential leadership candidates. After a quarterly Web conference on an area of competence, the candidates gather face-to-face in groups of 20 for three-day training modules that go into the subject in more detail. Then they break up again into smaller groups that continue to work together on practical applications of the knowledge and to coach one another.

    "For example, a small group could be working on the transformation of a business that has brought in a new leader," Szteinbaum says. "They have to revamp the group and change its charter, and perhaps move out a few key members of the old team so they can help the manager develop a new one."

    In addition, HP hopes to boost the business acumen of its HR leaders through a separate, HP-specific online financial training program that it is developing with an outside partner. "Where there are HR people who have more financial and business model knowledge, we’ll use them as coaches to help the others," Szteinbaum says.

Workforce Management, June 25, 2007, p. 38 -- Subscribe Now!

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