Thanks to increased sales of new and existing research databases, global expansion and competitive acquisitions, publishing company EBSCO Information Services experienced huge growth in 2012. On its way to $2 billion in revenue, the company needed to prepare managers for sustained future growth.
Despite a strong internal pipeline of individual contributors stepping into management roles as well as aggressive external hiring goals to fill new positions, EBSCO leaders were reluctant to take employees off the job for an extended period of time. Management development needed to be relevant and immediately applicable so participants could integrate real work with skill building.
Tim Collins, founder and president of EBSCO, identified 13 management practices that helped him to build the company from a garage in Topsfield, Massachusetts, to a global market leader in online reference.
Using its 13 management practices, the company partnered with consultancy ConBrio Inc. to design a foundational learning experience called EBSCO Management Basics, featuring manager engagement meetings, leader-led gatherings, networking, on-the-job application work and a measurement strategy.
Senior leaders nominate participants with specific development goals. Participants and managers take part in a pre-engagement meeting or webinar to review development expectations and commitments.
Three executive-led gatherings focus on linking individual goals to business outcomes, hiring and managing performance, and establishing and leading productive teams. Collins co-facilitates the first gathering. The second gathering is co-facilitated by the executive vice president of operations, who discusses hiring and managing performance over time. Participants work on interview strategies and troubleshoot performance situations. The third gathering is co-facilitated by the vice president of the project management office, providing insight into different work styles and skills to establish and lead teams to complete diverse projects.
Between each gathering, participants receive a networking objective and are assigned to a networking team. Given EBSCO’s growth and expansion, it is important that new managers establish a professional network within the company. Networking events help to build these relationships.
EBSCO leaders continually measure program impact with surveys, conversations and reviews of participants’ work. The series is adapted as company goals evolve and data is gathered from participants.
Kathleen Gallanar is managing director of ConBrio, a talent development company. Beth Howell, the vice president of human resources at EBSCO Information Services, also contributed to this article. They can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.
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