Chief Learning Officer - May 2006 - (Page 42)

CO0506.qxd 4/18/06 1:38 PM Page 42 productivity in practice: ued frequent job turnover requires CLOs to adjust learning methods to meet employee needs, including Wa s h i n g t o n Gas: the way information is packaged and delivered. R e a l - Ti m e Knowledge Transfer B u s i n e s s Complexity With more than a million residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout Today's business operating environment is increasingly metropolitan Washington, D.C., and the surrounding regions, WGL Holdings Inc. and its complex for workers to navigate. Not only has the pace subsidiar y Washington Gas launched the Learning Solutions Center in May 2005 to cre- of change increased, but regulatory pressure, competi- ate a consistent, systematic and more effective approach to learning for its 1,700 tion and the tools that information workers have con- employees. Led by Organization and Employee Development Director Dori Ramsey, the tinue to evolve rapidly. Workers frequently balance Lear ning Solutions Center is working on two parallel efforts: the knowledge management several tasks among the multiple resources that support initiative, which targets the organization's entire workforce; and learning interventions, their performance, often with no clear preferred which at the outset are primarily focused on the operations division. Ultimately, the process. Business processes themselves are unclear, Lear ning Solutions Center will support all divisions of the company in meeting learning many of them constrained by regulations, and simply and development needs. trying to find the information needed to perform one's One of the challenges that we are facing stems from having a large number of employ- job wastes energy, time and money. Consequently, it is ees eligible for retirement over the next three to five years, Ramsey said. So, this has common to have multiple methods, some flawed, to shown us that we have to be extremely efficient, shorten the learning curve and perhaps accomplish specific tasks. As enterprises seek new ways modify the ways that we have traditionally trained people in the past. Our basic approach to cut costs and improve productivity, they will stream- is to make sure that we have clearly defined what an employee needs to know to do his line business processes and educate employees in real- or her job so that every minute we spend in the learning environment is really targeted time about those changes. on those objectives. The knowledge management initiative focuses on both the explicit and implicit knowl- Preparing for Real-Time Learning edge of each WGL Holdings business unit. In order to identify this knowledge, the The move to this type of learning environment will Lear ning Solutions Center had each division identify its core processes, complete gap look less like an evolution and more like a paradigm analyses and create plans to address any gaps. For the explicit piece, we are making shift. Such a shift requires other elements to fall sure that we have critical processes documented and that they are documented in such into place, including advancements in technology, a way that the information is easily retrievable. We have purchased a knowledge man- the on-boarding of generation Y and retirement of agement system from Contextware that we are currently implementing and will be rolling the baby boomers. However, the benefits of a real- out over the remainder of this year. This is going to assist us in ensuring that employees time environment as it's framed here are tough to have the most up-to-date information on specific processes, Ramsey explained. dispute, and those charged with learning, workforce However, Ramsey said identifying and making implicit knowledge explicit is more challeng- development and succession planning can initiate a ing. A lot of expertise, wisdom and knowledge that has become innate to our workers is few practical steps to take advantage of the chang- not easily captured and put into a tool such as Contextware, she said. But it can be done ing environment for their businesses. through things like lessons learned and best practices. We are also looking at other learn- ing interventions such as an expert speaker series, one-on-one coaching, mentoring, etc. Develop or Hire Learning Professionals For the operations group, Ramsey is currently focused on developing a learning environ- With New Competencies ment to transfer knowledge through a more hands-on approach. We want to put all of How far do we have to go? According to a recent our training and learning solutions under a microscope and say, `OK, they need to be as report from The Conference Board, we still have good as we can make them because we have a challenge to bring new employees up quite a distance. Only 31 percent of survey partici- to speed more quickly.' We are expanding hands-on-type training and doing more sce- pants say that HR executives in their companies nario training as well, so that when C doesn't follow A and B, employees know what to have a strong understanding of strategic key per- do, Ramsey said. The employees that are currently in our workforce just know what to formance indicators. Even fewer 25 percent sur- do when C doesn't follow A and B because they have been doing it for years. veyed consider their HR leaders capable of linking In addition, Ramsey and her team are developing career development paths for the oper- people measures to such indicators. However, there ations group because with a large part of the workforce expected to retire, they need to is progress, as evidenced by several indicators, includ- accelerate learning and shorten the time it takes to move to other job functions. As we ing the rise of the senior human capital officer to the look to attract people into the company, we want to make sure that when they look at C-suite, the outsourcing of non-critical HR tasks and Washington Gas they see a range of opportunities and that they understand how they can the shift of administrative tasks to the employee's get from one position to another, she said. Another motivation is to simply make sure immediate manager. As needs change, the learning that we can start people down their preferred learning paths early so that when a job organization will need to add new competency opens up they have already begun their training for that position. requirements to mid- and senior-level management May 2006 By clearly defining the job functions, career paths and the learning prerequisites for each responsible for executing learning strategy. job role, Ramsey envisions the organization will improve proficiency on the job, employ- Competencies can be used to refocus the learning ee satisfaction and retention. Further more, Ramsey said the Learning Solutions Center I I Chief Learning Officer organization on what's really important and what it will eventually offer support to the rest of the organization in order to realize such bene- takes for them to be successful. CLOs will need to fits throughout WGL Holdings. We are inching toward expanding the Learning Solutions consider core competencies that include business Center 's support to the rest of the company so we can give guidance on a more sys- process experience, business planning, strategic plan- tematic approach toward learning, she said. We want to offer more opportunities for ning, finance and other operational expertise. various types of solutions for the entire company, and we think this will help employees reach their full potential much more quickly and will present a lot of opportunities G e t a Healthy Dose of Technology throughout the company. Understanding technology is not the same as being a

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Chief Learning Officer - May 2006

Editor's Note
Table of Contents
Letters to the Editor
Take Five
Selling Up, Selling Down
Guest Editorial
Learning Solutions
Robbins-Gioia University
Deloitte & Touche USA
CLO Profile
Washington Gas
Case Study
Human Capital
Health Care Service Corp.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
Business Intelligence
In Conclusion
Advertiser's Index
Editorial Resources

Chief Learning Officer - May 2006