Mike has been working with companies for more than 20 years to transform their approaches to development, leadership and culture. From a tech startup, DigitalGlobe, which he helped to scale and take public, to larger organizations like Verizon, Shell and Sony, he has partnered with leaders to define and refine the way they think about their people. He has consulted and worked with global companies in marketing, HR and channel management.
As the Global Head of People Development at HP, Mike and his team have transformed the function, including the implementation of a social learning platform, as well as reinventing how talent, career and performance management help shape a culture of innovation. Outside of work, Mike volunteers, hikes with his dog (Charlie) and is an avid movie fan.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
What kind of impact will the 4th industrial revolution have on the workforce and the skilling scenario?
At HP, we’re not only preparing to enter the 4th industrial revolution with our digital manufacturing business, we are preparing employees to develop and thrive as automation, robotics and roles shift with the digital transformation. We have been implementing digital fluency for employees to build skills aligned to HP’s digital strategy and will launch development roadmaps for deeper certifications across all businesses and functions. It is core to HP’s values to leverage a growth mindset, continue learning and staying curious, and to keep reinventing our own skills to lead HP into the future.
The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re-skilling and upskilling. So, how can organizations upskill their workforce at this scale and make them future-ready?
Organizations play a critical role in supporting the development of their employees, and can harness the creativity and new skills employees attain to lead their company into the future. Each company will have a unique strategy about what becomes digital and how they will transform, and nobody is better positioned to lead transformation than the employees who work there. From process reengineering to automation and improved data insights, employees know what can be amplified or transformed better than anyone – and with the right skills they can lead the charge.
At hp, we’re not only preparing to enter the 4th industrial revolution with our digital manufacturing business, we are preparing employees to develop and thrive as automation, robotics and roles shift with the digital transformation
How can L&D function help reinvent organizations to prepare for future of work?
Employees want the context for how and why an organization is changing at the outset. A clear strategy and story galvanizes and activates people to see where they are headed and how they fit into the future. Then comes personalization and choice. Employees want access to different development roadmaps and to connect to their interests to find the intersection between what they want to do and what the business needs. When that overlap happens, and learning can be applied to real work, transformation happens faster and with more engaged employees.
L&D teams have the task of connecting multiple platforms and development methods so the user experience feels personal and lacks complexity. Employees have increasingly higher expectations and want the platforms they use at work to look and feel like those in their personal lives. If the experience is cumbersome, unwieldy, or unavailable on a device, employees quickly disengage and are hard to convert.
What holds an organization's learning and development efforts from reaching their full potential? Is it because of a lack of planning and commitment from the C-suite?
The c-suite is critical in both commitment and advocacy for development. At HP we have a strong development culture that is reinforced by executives with their teams and cascades into the organization. Everyone struggles to find time to develop and carving out time requires support and encouragement from the top of the organization to keep reinventing ourselves.
How important is identifying, assessing, and addressing skills gaps? How to conduct a skills gap analysis?
Soft skills (though I hate the term as they are the most challenging to get right) become even more critical as work moves up the value change through digital transformation. This is true for current employees as much as new hires. We focus on developing roadmaps for storytelling, creativity, managing conflict, influencing and decision making, to name a few, so employees can keep an edge. We also assess external talent with a rigorous interview process that uncovers critical skills required for roles.
A 2019 LinkedIn study finds that the biggest challenge for talent development is getting employees to make time for learning. In such a scenario, whatÕs the way forward for organizations and how can they deliver training on multiple platforms?
The time challenge is real for employees at every level in the organization. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and we reinforce the practice of finding and carving out time to develop in a way that works for each employee. Having multiple platforms and approaches is key to this as some employees want short nuggets each day on their mobile device while others prefer a deeper dive in a face-to-face experience. Choice is key and support from leaders to make time is critical – so we focus on both levers.
How can L&D function leverage technologies such as analytics to power reinvention and make an organization-wide impact?
L&D teams have access to and can leverage data from multiple sources in their organizations. We look at engagement scores for leaders and whether they are talent scouts (movement through their teams) to determine development plans. From our social learning platform, Brain Candy, we can see what skills are most searched, accessed, and endorsed to inform what content we develop and curate. We also look at business, role and regional data to ensure development meets the diverse needs of our employees across the globe.
Organizations play a critical role in supporting the development of their employees, and can harness the creativity and new skills employees attain to lead their company into the future
What does the L&D team of tomorrow need to look like in order to prepare organizations for a digital future?
L&D teams need to continue to transform and stay ahead of technologies, methods, and business trends. Besides being obsessed with how employees learn, and leveraging empathy and design thinking (we think of ourselves as a product team), we want learning to be accessible, engaging and simple to navigate. Everything should add up to employees developing in ways they care about to drive the business forward in a way that matters.
What is your advice for CHROs and people managers who face challenges to skill and re-skill their employees including cost and other bottlenecks?
There are more low-cost development options these days that offer a Netflix-style way of learning, which we leverage. In our Brain Candy platform we curate content from multiple providers and organize by topic. While we fund many of the options, there are some that are funded by managers with development budgets for their teams. This keeps flexibility for teams to drive critical development for the work they’re doing and keeps costs down for the organization.