How do you make career development work for both the employee and the business? IBM® has done it by tightly linking employee-driven career development programs with corporate goals. In Agile Career Development, three of IBM’s leading HR innovators show how IBM has accomplished this by illustrating various lessons and approaches that can be applied to other organizations as well. This book is for every HR professional, learning or training manager, executive, strategist, and any other business leader who wants to create a high performing organization.
Review By: Richard J. Foster
06/17/2010For any company, especially in today's economy, the success or failure of the enterprise lies with its employees. It's not enough to recruit the best available talent, you also have to retain them and ensure their contribution retains value over time. In this book, the authors explore the processes in place at IBM to ensure that happens.
At IBM, employee development occurs from day one with an "on-boarding program" designed to ensure new personnel become productive as quickly as possible while meeting the needs of all stakeholders. According to IBM's figures, there is a 50 percent greater retention rate and better performance assessment results for employees who attend the program. Similar statistics are scattered throughout the book. In the final chapter the authors discuss the all-important question of how to measure success—a vital part of a responsive career development process. In addition to traditional training, the authors discuss the benefits of alternative methods to developing skills like job shadowing, stretch assignments, and mentoring.
If you're like me, you may be asking "So how is skill acquisition agile"? The answer is that the methods described are aligned with those mentioned in the Agile Manifesto, specifically valuing interaction and collaboration between participants along with a plan that is responsive to changes in requirements and goals.
The book is of most value to management (including team leaders) and human resource specialists, although the content is somewhat applicable to other readers as well. The information is easy to understand, and there are plenty of references for anyone wanting more detail. I found Chapter 7’s outline of the collaborative steps to ensure individual development plans remain well matched with business goals and the sections on measuring the success of the process very interesting--especially the statistics on the success of IBM's global mentoring scheme. If there was one downside to the book, it was the IBM-centric view it presented. For example I imagine things like Google's "20 time" projects help employees develop valuable skills (and Google may have statistics to prove it), but they were not even mentioned in this book. That minor complaint aside, I certainly didn't feel that any part of the book was a waste of my time. Now, time to leave this book where my manager will see it. I wonder if he'll get the hint.