Three years ago, B/E Aerospace was experiencing unprecedented growth, fueled by organic and M&A expansion. The only trouble this $3 billion manufacturer of aircraft interior products had was figuring out how to grow its future leaders just as fast.
Speaking at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, Florida, Jenny Anglehart, Senior Vice President of Talent Management at B/E Aerospace, described how the company is flying high for the future using SuccessFactors software to deliver a comprehensive leadership development program that simplifies succession planning and supports employee engagement and retention.
“We had a lot of very talented employees but didn’t have the means for developing those employees or helping them get prepared for their next step in their career path in the organization,” said Anglehart.
Measurable outcomes: retention and succession planning
B/E Aerospace began by centralizing human resources (HR) and creating a talent management team. Looking ahead, the team realized the company faced a shortage of director-level talent, so they focused on identifying and developing the successors needed to help expand the company. They tapped high-potentials and high-performing managers, meaning individuals likely to be ready to move up within one to two years, for an intensive six-month leadership program. To date, seventy percent of those participants have moved into a more senior position.
Other initiatives have been equally successful. The Rising Talent Program is targeted to individual contributors aspiring to move into a management position. So far, 35 percent of graduates have moved into managerial roles. The aptly named SOAR (Supervising Others to Achieve Results) program provides foundational leadership skills such as delegating, communications and coaching to employees worldwide including the United States, Europe and The Philippines. The recently piloted Reaching Altitude program covers foundational leadership skills for managers and directors who need a refresher or want to learn new skills.
“These programs have been a real game-changer for our company,” said Anglehart. “Before this, we didn’t have that enterprise look and feel when it came to learning and development. We’ve had great retention from these programs and a great promotion pipeline.”
Developing leaders company-wide
Anglehart said B/E Aerospace is replicating its leadership development strategy within supply chain teams to shore up the company’s bench in that critical area as well. They are recruiting master’s degree graduates to participate in a two-year program with three eight-month rotations in different departments across the company to learn different aspects of the supply chain. The idea is to prepare employees for a senior individual contributor role or entry-level management.
“We’re trying very hard to develop from within,” said Anglehart. “What frustrates us the most is when we have an opening for a manager or director-level position we can’t fill from within because we don’t have that talent ready.”
Sourcing “hidden” talent through collaboration and transparency
Now that teams are sharing employee information across departments, they’re sourcing more candidates faster, opening up new opportunities for advancement, as well as a career refresh in another part of the business.
“There was a time when people weren’t sharing top talent with each other,” said Anglehart. “SuccessFactors Succession and Development allows us to discover all of the talent everyone has, and see if there are people from other parts of the company that might be well-suited for a succession plan somewhere else. What’s amazing is how quickly this has happened. Leaders are getting rewarded for showing there’s a promotion pipeline for people on their team.”
Return on investment is crucial
While she admits these programs are resource-intensive, Anglehart said that showing measurable outcomes has helped secure budget for continuous enhancements as company needs evolve. Future plans include technical leadership development programs.
“Having strong engineering talent for R&D, producing designs that delight our customers, is so critical to the success of our business. We have some of the best and brightest engineers in the world who are saying that want to lead and manage projects, initiating ideas and solutions that will get the company to the next level,” said Anglehart. “We want to create a pipeline of these technical leaders, and we’re starting to develop those career paths too.”
This kind of leadership development approach epitomizes the new role of HR as strategic business partner. Working closely with management company-wide by providing easy-to-use software that supports company objectives, HR can help drive future growth.
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