When it comes to enterprise learning, most companies are as concerned with return on investment as they are with the quality of the training they provide. And the bottom line is: Are employees better able to do their jobs after a training program? Are there measurable differences to illustrate that the investment in training will impact performance and increase shareholder value?
Jim LaRocco, vice president for learning and development at Tyco Fire & Security (TFS), is no exception. Using his background in organizational climate, group dynamics and competency modeling, LaRocco has brought about bottom-line results that support the Tyco Fire & Security values of integrity, teamwork, excellence and accountability.
LaRocco honed his skills at Pepsi-Cola and The Gap before taking up the challenge of training at TFS. Promoted from manager to director of organization and executive development at Pepsi, LaRocco participated in a major reorganization of the company and a reengineering of its human resource processes, and he was responsible for developing the competency models that formed the basis for assessing Pepsi executives.
As the vice president of human resource development at The Gap, LaRocco built fundamental human resources systems and processes across the organization.
At TFS, he took essentially a blank slate and created a learning organization focused on best practices, mission strategy and deliverables. “Not much more than a year ago, headquarters for this $11 billion organization consisted of a vice president of HR and an administrative assistant. That was it,” LaRocco said. “Up until December, I had no direct reports. Today at headquarters we’re appropriately lean. We’ve implemented a global LMS with a total full-time staff of three people and our vendor Generation21. And by the way, we’re on time and on budget. It’s a real challenge, but that’s one of the reasons why I’m here.”
Formerly at TFS, each business unit or division ran independently with its own set of courses on leadership, sales, etc. As a result, the units duplicated efforts. LaRocco said part of the business case is to identify best practices and not continually reinvent the wheel. With the coordinating group currently in place, it is easier to look across the globe and see what has already been done. This creates value by ensuring consistency and quality.
Because of the culture and history of autonomy among the divisions, LaRocco said he had to be careful to balance the need for staff against a need to leverage all existing resources in the divisions more effectively. There is now an organizational model called “Distributed Management” in place, and the challenge became how to determine the best inflection point where resources would have the most impact. LaRocco has sold in, obtained funding for and begun implementation of a learning management system. He’s also established the Tyco Fire & Security Learning Council to ensure the integration and coordination of training across the company’s divisions.
“We’re beginning to establish standards and practices and curriculum design and development,” LaRocco explained. “We’ve begun a career development and training architecture. And we’ve gone from essentially an atmosphere of skepticism to an avalanche of requests for support. We have to leverage existing resources throughout the organization to make this happen. It’s critical to establish credibility, trust and a good business case.”
TFS training programs use a blended delivery approach, and there is a keen desire to ensure that training, often needed in a rush to respond to changes in business conditions or sales initiatives, is appropriate to the outcome needed. LaRocco said that TFS’s responsibilities are on quality control for curriculum design and development. “I am personally very outcome-based,” he said. “What I want is the most effective system that will get the results desired, and again, blended learning is all of those things. But we have to sometimes explain the difference between a PowerPoint presentation and training. They don’t have the same impact, and they aren’t the same thing. We need to manage that. We are implementing standards where previously none existed. This is a key objective of our curriculum design and development group.”
LaRocco has begun to eliminate redundant, unnecessary or ineffective training to control costs as well as to improve quality of learning. “These unnecessary costs can be measured in dollars wasted for program development, but more significantly in the thousands of hours of customer time and job time lost to attend ineffective training,” LaRocco said.
Instead he advocates a career and training development architecture or a road map that clearly outlines what training is required based on an employee’s tenure, level and function. “What we want is skill-based or job-based training, including leadership and interpersonal skill training as appropriate,” LaRocco said. “Tied to the road map, a person will know ahead of time what he or she needs to be successful. More importantly, the training will reflect the way they actually do their work when they come back to the job.”
He added, “Training is highly valued. Our service technicians, installers and sales reps are constantly getting trained on equipment, new procedures and so on. We just need to ensure that the training is effective and that the quality and standards that lead to business results are present at all levels of the organization worldwide. It’s that quality and consistency that we have to drive. We need to have a good needs-based assessment and organization development capability. And focus is important. We are explicitly working to eliminate what I call content-based training. That is the catalog-of-ad-hoc-courses approach where people can take classes regardless of where they are in their career or what their jobs require or what the organization will accept.”
Training some 90,000 employees across the globe offers a lot of challenges. LaRocco said there are legal requirements and restrictions for data sharing that must be adhered to. In some cases, there are also labor councils that he must get approval from before going forward, so he must be especially vigilant and aware. “We’re not only on different hours, we’re sometimes on different days,” he said. “Communicating, reaching consensus or sharing information is always a challenge. It’s really about being sensitive when we roll out programs to make sure that we spell the word ‘color’ correctly or that the voltage in a particular device is correct. Avoiding the not-invented-here syndrome and the feeling of American centricism are always high on your list of concerns. You just have to be sensitive to local cultures, local rules and regulations and local sensitivities.”
At TFS, ethics training has a strong presence. LaRocco said that every TFS employee will take a set of approximately six courses that provide fundamental ethics and values knowledge. Those values include: integrity, excellence, teamwork and accountability. Courses include insider trading, workplace harassment, how to handle e-mail, resolving conflicts of interest and so on. Follow-up coursework in the program will be determined by an employee’s individual role at TFS. For instance, people who manage government contracts will have a set of courses around the rules and ethics of working in that environment. “If you’re in HR, there might be another set of courses on personal privacy,” LaRocco said. “There’s this serious effort to bring to everyone a knowledge and understanding of what this company stands for and how we’re going to operate. In a world where things aren’t always black and white, it’s quite an undertaking.”
The Tyco Fire & Security Learning Organization didn’t exist a year ago. Yet, a strong foundation has been established by working with key stakeholders across the company. Ultimately, as standards are implemented and key objectives for curriculum design and development are achieved, TFS can measure training success and ask bottom-line results questions. “You measure success by impact and outcomes. Did a behavior change occur? Did it make a measurable difference? Was it a difference that mattered? If you have standards in place, including good process and measures, the answers will be yes,” LaRocco said. “The Tyco Fire & Security training strategy is to deliver measurable business results. That’s why we exist, and that’s the only reason we exist.”
Name: Jim LaRocco
Title: Vice President, Learning & Development
Company: Tyco Fire & Security
Starting with no staff until last December (everything done with volunteers, i.e., ad hoc committees):
- Established TFS Learning Organization, mission, strategies, deliverables.
- Sold in, obtained funding for and began implementation of LMS.
- Established Learning Council to ensure integration and coordination of training across business units.
- Established standards and practices in curriculum design and development.
- Began building a career development and training architecture.
- Moved from an atmosphere of skepticism to an avalanche of requests for support.
- Responsible for executing organization development support and coaching.
“Our focus is on business results, not content per se. Learning needs to be integrated into the fabric of work. Content must be tied to current and future job requirements. We will move from thinking to training as the delivery and mastery of content. We will provide a road map of courses that, given level, tenure and function, clearly defines what skills are required for an employee to succeed.”