Name: Stephen B. King
Title: Manager, Learning & Organization Development/Chief Learning Officer
Company: Constellation Energy
- Unveiled Constellation Learning Center—an employee-centric learning portal.
- Helped create executive talent assessment process for the 150 top leaders and succession management review process for the 25 top executives.
- Developed strategy to build organizational change capability, including Constellation change management framework, processes and tools, coaching and consulting support to change initiatives, change management certification program and change agent network.
- Implemented enterprise employee engagement survey to identify key drivers of engagement and satisfaction and improvement actions.
- Provided training support for business transformation and improvement, including Six Sigma process improvement and problem solving, change management, and project management framework, methods, tools and training.
Learning Philosophy: “The mission of Constellation Energy’s L&OD team is to ‘provide customer-focused learning, leadership and organization development solutions that foster individual, team and organizational growth, change and business results.’ We take a broad look beyond formal training and education. We attempt to provide a range of performance improvement and development strategies—both formal and informal—that are linked to the business goals and challenges facing Constellation Energy.”
Constellation Energy, a leading supplier of energy to large commercial and industrial customers in the United States, built its foundational values on integrity, social and environmental responsibility, and customer focus to guide its business. Customers in nearly three dozen states and three Canadian provinces, a product net that extends from energy and utilities to power and fuel processing stations to generating plants and natural gas assets, and 2004 revenues of $12.5 billion are a testament to performance values that center on speed, accountability, passion for excellence and value creation. With responsibility for almost 10,000 employees, Chief Learning Officer Stephen B. King has a lot on his plate.
King began his career in operations roles at Worthington Industries, but his passion for the learning and development side of the organization led him to pursue a master’s degree in adult education. While working on his doctorate at Penn State University, he started the independent consulting firm King & Associates and partnered with clients such as Motorola, FedEx and Lucent Technologies to analyze and solve human performance problems. After he received his doctorate, King became executive director, leadership and management development at Management Concepts Inc., a global professional services firm, and remained for several years before taking up his current position.
Constellation Energy has undergone a significant amount of restructuring and transformation in the past few years. The company began as Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), one of the oldest utility companies in the country. Today, BGE only accounts for roughly 25 percent of revenue, compared with 75 percent just a couple of years ago. Constellation Generation Group operates a fleet of nuclear and power-generating plants in more than 100 locations in 35 states. Comprised of Constellation Commodities Group and Constellation New Energy, the competitive supply businesses count more than 60 of the Fortune 100 as clients and account for 75 percent of revenue. There are so many opportunities to build or improve learning and development initiatives to support the various businesses, King said one of his greatest challenges is prioritizing which ones to implement. However, initiatives that will have the most impact on the business take precedence.
For instance, following the implementation of the first-ever enterprise-wide employee engagement survey, King discovered that career development was critically important to Constellation Energy employees. “One of the biggest findings from our engagement survey was that the number-one driver of employee engagement across our company is career development, which includes promotion and advancement opportunities within the company, as well as awareness of and access to learning and development,” King said. “The fact that it was the number-one driver of employee engagement led us to focus on putting a more robust career development system in place, and that became a top priority.”
One of the direct results of the survey, the Constellation Learning Center, was unveiled in January 2005, and King said it has had a big impact on the company in a short amount of time. “Through the Learning Center, our employees can now access, through the portal, a wide array of learning and development resources, such as internal and external classroom training schedules, e-learning, audio and videotape learning libraries, development planning tools, career development workshops and tools, job postings, a listing of development resources organized by competencies, volunteer opportunities and information about degree programs and tuition reimbursement,” he said. The Learning Center also offers learning style assessments, performance support tools and resource centers in areas such as leadership development, change management and energy industry resources.
“Constellation Energy is going though massive, transformational change. Whether it’s new software systems, consolidation of our financials to a common platform, PeopleSoft implementation, time-keeping systems, work process redesign—there’s a lot of major change initiatives taking place throughout the organization,” King said. “In addition to skill and competency development, a priority is building change management capability among employees and leaders, an initiative we’ve undertaken to help the organization become more change-‘able’ and give people tools and resources to help them manage effectively through change.”
These tools include stakeholder analysis, change readiness assessments and methods to identify the current and future state of the change, as well as learning support for large-scale initiatives, such as Project Pyxis, an enterprise-wide financial management system consolidation and implementation. Since the program went live, King said there has been greater efficiency, more streamlined processes and higher-quality, more user-friendly tools.
“At Constellation Energy, we view change management in holistic terms,” said Michael Wright, director of change management, learning and organizational development, Constellation Energy. “While change may be caused by many internal and external factors, we have a systematic approach to managing our change. Through this process, our ultimate goal is to position our employees to move through the change process with ease by providing them with the necessary tools, resources and information.”
Wright and King have worked closely with the business performance improvement department to introduce a change management framework that Constellation Energy has leveraged across the organization to gain efficiencies. “Steve has brought a collaborative approach to working with other departments,” Wright said. “He brings a wealth of experience from previous roles outside of Constellation Energy. Steve wants to ensure that our businesses are positioned for success by ensuring that our employees are skilled and successful in their roles. He wants to make sure they have the best learning and development solutions to meet their needs.”
Development programs for mid-level managers, junior leaders and new supervisors faded after restructuring and business transformation efforts began. Consequently, this area has received a lot of King’s attention. “We simply couldn’t sustain (the mid-level program) anymore,” said David McIntosh, principal organization development consultant, Baltimore Gas & Electric. “People couldn’t afford to take three weeks off from work. Things were just too hectic. The internal resources that we had to support leadership development started to slowly erode as well. During the splitting-up process, the BGE organization development unit had about 13 people in it. It ended up with three units—two people in one, two people in another, and I think two or three people in another—one for each of the businesses. Over the last couple of years, we’ve begun to rebuild and consolidate the function to achieve greater levels of efficiency as well as effectiveness.”
McIntosh and King partnered to bring leadership programs to the forefront of learning and organization development efforts. For instance, the original 15-day supervisory development program was revised and crunched down to eight days without sacrificing any of the content. “It’s been very well received,” McIntosh said. “In fact, we have discontinued our own program at the BGE level and send all of our supervisory people to the Constellation Energy program at the corporate level instead. Our leaders now get exposed to a greater variety of leaders as well as colleagues across Constellation Energy. It is less parochial, and we think that adds to the educational experience.”
“In terms of succession planning, we built that from the ground up, and Steve was the driving force,” McIntosh said. “He was my primary resource to develop that. It was the first succession planning system I’ve ever built, and I don’t think I would have ended up with a product like I got without Steve’s coaching, mentoring, input and review process.”
BGE added a succession planning process last year for its top two leadership tiers, and plans to expand to a third tier within the next few months. “One other component that came along with succession planning was that we identified a group of high-potential leaders, particularly in the mid-level to supervisory ranks,” McIntosh said. Twenty-five people were selected via an intricate process, matched with a mentor, and given specialized assessment tools, feedback and coaching. “We bring them together four times a year in cohort sessions to primarily focus on business skills topics as they emerge, like political savvy and financial acumen, among others,” McIntosh added. “We’re also looking at developing an executive development program.”
“For leadership development, we want people interacting across our diverse business areas and building relationships, networks, learning about the larger organization and the various businesses,” King said. “We have a program called the Constellation Management Development program, four two-day modules delivered over about a four-month time frame. We have an executive sponsor who’s one of the chief operating officers from one of our business areas. He, along with a number of other senior executives, is there at each of the four modules to share his experiences and insights, and interact with the participants as a conduit to upper-level management.”
Metrics are key to building programs, prioritizing offerings and establishing the best practices that will push Constellation Energy to the next level. The value of measuring learning at Constellation Energy is twofold, King said. “It helps us look at the impact that we’re having on the organization so we can demonstrate our success and support the organization achieving its goals and strategies. From a look-forward standpoint, it also helps us with decision-making related to changes we should make or new things we should be introducing based on feedback and metrics. It’s the lagging indicators and leading indicators to inform our decision making,” King said.
Next, Constellation Energy will address legacy planning and knowledge transfer, and further its activities in leadership development, career development, learning technologies and succession planning, with an eye on the 40 percent to 50 percent of its workforce set to retire in the next five to 10 years. “We view the Constellation Learning Center as a ‘living’ site that we will continue to refine, update and ensure that employees have access to new, relevant and easily accessible resources to help them build their skills and expertise,” King said. “We anticipate continued growth and business transformation efforts into the future, so continuing to evolve and build our change management capability will be important. We’re building a lot of new processes, putting things in place or fixing what’s broken. It’s a really exciting environment.”
—Kellye Whitney, email@example.comFiled under: Leadership Development, Measurement, Technology