The bigger a corporation, the harder it is to make all of its parts work together while staying out of each other's way. That's why Wyeth, a pharmaceutical company based in Collegeville, PA, stands out among the companies that applied for this year's Training Top 125. It's not just that the company has interesting training programs or demonstrates a commitment to the ongoing development of its employees. Without that kind of commitment, it's not even possible to make the Top 125. But Wyeth is special because of the way all of its programs hang together. The company has a specific set of goals in mind for how the skills of its employees will be translated into success for both them and the company overall, and each of its training programs supports those goals—and supports the other programs that also support those goals.
There are two ideas that tie it all together. One is "every person, every job." The other is "Best Rep." The first phrase has to do with a commitment to make sure that every employee at Wyeth is getting opportunities to develop their skills, so ongoing learning and development is not only possible but actively happening. The second has to do with the sales representatives at Wyeth, who are the company's public face and have a huge impact on whether Wyeth's customers stay that way.
Keeping Track of It All
Wyeth has been using the Balanced Scorecard concept for years, but it's been getting even more serious about it for the last three years. This is one of those concepts where "every person, every job" comes into play, because the scorecards measure almost every job in some way. Financial metrics, HR-related metrics, training metrics, even participation in the Career Ladder program—practically every move the company makes, in the aggregate or the individual, is tracked and analyzed by way of some scorecard or other.
"This is a big shift across the organization, because every department has one and everybody values the scorecards because the metrics have become really robust," says Dave Jenkins, vice president of sales training and management development for Wyeth.
For example, the idea of the Career Ladder program is to make sure the company is encouraging ongoing development in all of its employees. But since the program is self-driven, and without analysis, the company would never know whether these efforts were succeeding. So there's a scorecard for the program, which measures several metrics, including the amount of participation across the organization. The scorecard showed Wyeth a few years ago that it was only getting 30 to 35 percent of employees to participate, and so some changes were made to the program (more on this later). Now, the scorecard tells the company that participation has rocketed to 72 percent.
The scorecards help monitor the health of other aspects of the business. New employees have to qualify to work for Wyeth by completing the FieldStart orientation, an intensive three-week course of training in product knowledge, policies, procedures, and regulatory compliance. There's a scorecard for that program, and metrics related to completion of that program help the company track the success of its hiring practices and the knowledge of its new employees.
Another scorecard tracks the success of the company's Best Rep program. Like any company whose lifeblood is sales, Wyeth wants to make sure its sales representatives are the best in the business (more on this later, too). But not every company is as specific or scientific about what "the best in the business" means. Not only does Wyeth state in simple and definite terms what the "Best Rep" does to make him or her the best, a scorecard based on customer satisfaction metrics tells Wyeth whether its reps are doing those things, and to what extent.