The company also recognized an internal crisis when succession management reviews uncovered shallow bench strength in critical areas and major gaps in important skills.
Pitney Bowes decided the best way to accelerate business performance and sustain growth was to strengthen the capabilities of its workforce. To begin, Pitney Bowes benchmarked 17 companies that were effectively using human capital development and management. The company determined that its current spreadsheet-style systems were:
- Fragmented: Processes and applications were redundant and disconnected.
- Decentralized: Business units were not aligned. Each had its own agenda or no plan at all.
- Company-Driven: There was no individual accountability.
- Paper-Intensive: Processes were labor- and time-consuming with limited use of technology.
- Lacking Data Integrity: There was no way to track progress or use information.
Pitney Bowes partnered with Dallas-based KnowledgePool to create an enterprise-wide talent development and management initiative that it branded LEAD! KnowledgePool’s enterprise consultants designed a tailored solution powered by the Web-based, open architecture of its Talent Management System (TMS), which worked within Pitney Bowes’ unique environment and HR processes to develop, deploy and manage talent. According to Don King, manager of leadership information solutions, “Pitney Bowes was not forced into making an existing product work. One of the biggest advantages to using KnowledgePool was that they built an application designed around our process; our process was not designed around their existing application.”
“Our approach was to create an application platform built around Pitney Bowes’ standards,” said Dr. William Pilder, KnowledgePool’s senior vice president and enterprise consultant. “Together we made it work successfully.”
The new platform connects Pitney Bowes’ global management community by integrating scattered applications and individual and organizational data for centralized management of key systems, including performance management, employee development plans, learning management, talent review and succession planning and measurement of program ROI.
The LEAD! application also enabled Pitney Bowes to develop pathways to improvement in order to eliminate areas of weakness, develop leadership and prepare for market shifts, competitive pressures and new opportunities. Once Pitney Bowes defined its corporate competencies, KnowledgePool consultants matched them to sets of relevant learning resources so users could link to development plans, content and learning tools. A skills lexicon was designed to establish requisite skills for each management position. Today these are used for resume building and for qualifying job candidates. The skills lexicon enables users to glean a new understanding of how they supported the growth of their organization. One manager expressed the consensus of his peers, “Now we know what’s expected of us, and we have the resources to get us where we—and the company—need to be.”
By the end of its first year, almost 4,000 managers throughout Pitney Bowes actively deployed LEAD!, and talent development was recognized as a top priority. Accountability for performance was established at all levels, accounting for 30 percent of individual compensation. According to Michael Critelli, chairman and CEO of Pitney Bowes, “Virtually every participant found the program to be of great value and went back to apply new skills to his or her everyday responsibilities.”
The initiative remains a catalyst to transformation, and in last year’s annual report, Pitney Bowes maintained its commitment to LEAD! as an integral part of the company’s strategy for future growth. “Now in its third year of operation, [LEAD!] has driven comprehensive executive and management training, a complete leadership review process, specific action plans for our executives and managers, an overhaul of our performance management system and a systematic process for evaluating those who seek employment or promotion,” said Critelli. “At this stage, I am pleased with the strength of our senior leadership, with our progress in strengthening all levels of management and our recognition that the big challenge is to increase leadership and depth-of-talent at all levels.”
Bernadette Racicot, Ph.D., works with global leaders such as Pitney Bowes in the development of high-impact initiatives for HR management, training and development. As a valued member of the KnowledgePool Enterprise Services team, Racicot drives organizational effectiveness consulting for KnowledgePool’s Talent Solutions division. Racicot can be reached at email@example.com.