Many of TELUS's initiatives rely on a leadership framework that
is clear, succinct, and tailored to a work environment of virtual
teams that are managed at a distance and assessed on outcomes
rather than tasks.
In 2009, T+D reported that TELUS is frequently in search of that
elusive metric, employee engagement. The company–a publicly traded
information technology company that employs approximately 38,000
people—continues its quest for employee engagement today.
Soon after that 2009 profile was published in T+D, TELUS's annual
team survey revealed that, while employees understood corporate
strategy, they didn't feel empowered to address business issues.
Team members felt that the leadership model was too hierarchical
and not in the best interests of their—or the company's—performance.
To address those concerns, as well as to support strategy execution
in building sustainable profitability and shareholder value—a
critical business priority facing TELUS—the company launched the
TELUS Leadership Philosophy (TLP) in late 2010. The TLP is intended
to be a clear, simple framework that embodies the idea of
leadership for all, and empowers employees to demonstrate
leadership by surfacing ideas and sharing opinions that drive
performance and deliver on the company's brand promise—"the future is
"The TLP aligns four key pillars linked to our strategic
imperatives: leadership values; attributes that illustrate desired
leadership behaviors; business ownership culture; and employing
fair process to involve team members in decision making," says
TELUS's Head of Learning and Collaboration Dan Pontefract. "The TLP
is a continuous, multifaceted approach to informing the
organization about our expectations."
The TLP supports key enterprisewide business goals, including, but
not limited to, Customers First, an aggressive three-year
initiative to transition to a customer-focused culture delivering a
"best-in-class" customer experience; and Work Styles, a corporate
initiative with a goal to have 30 percent of employees working in
offices, 40 percent mobile, and 30 percent working at home by 2014.
"The success of these initiatives relies on our having a leadership
framework that is clear, succinct, and tailored to a work
environment of virtual teams that are managed at a distance and
assessed on outcomes rather than tasks," says Pontefract.
The TLP relies on fostering collaboration across all parts of the
business and between all levels of the organization. The Learning
and Collaboration team, which had just begun to experiment with
social learning in 2009, increased its Learning 2.0 efforts to
provide a platform for collaboration and to create the transparency
and clarity that the TLP required. Now, TELUS team members access a
range of tools, including blogs, wikis, microblogging, and video
sharing (via their TELUS Tube service), that gives them a forum to
discuss initiatives, share their voices, and interact with leaders.
The TLP provides the genesis of TELUS's current integrated talent
management framework. Its principles have been woven into the
company's recruiting model, succession planning, performance
development, promotions, and coaching.
"It is a unifying framework for our human resources practice and for
TELUS as a whole," Pontefract says. "It provides a resolute,
systematic, common language. It is quite powerful for the entire
organization to rally around this central understanding."
Talent management begins with recruitment. To ensure that TELUS
attracts, hires, and retains talent who will thrive in its culture,
the organization developed an employer value proposition based on
an analysis of market, candidate, and employee perspectives and
aligned the TLP.
Its key messages are that candidates share responsibility for the
hiring decision, just as they will be expected to take a leadership
role in their own and the company's performance once hired.
An interactive career website and social media efforts permit
candidates to get a snapshot of TELUS culture and values through
the stories of current employees. Once hired, an onboarding portal
guides new employees through their first 90 days on the job with
information, learning, collaboration practices, and resources.
An illustrative example of the TLP in action is Own.it, an
initiative that leverages learning-supported decision making to
drive process and productivity gains. Own.it is a structured method
that brings team members together to focus on an urgent business
need by tapping into their passion and expertise to solve problems.
It blends formal problem-solving facilitation and informal, social,
and cross-functional collaboration to drive rapid, continuous
process improvements. In 2010, the company quadrupled the number of
employees trained to facilitate the sessions, who then completed 64
sessions with 1,079 participants. Resulting
Own.it productivity improvement initiatives delivered an incredible
$13 million in business benefits.
"TLP is at the heart of Own.it," says Pontefract. "It helps drive
sessions through the use of open leadership, collaboration, and
Learning 2.0 tools, and gives all team members a voice in creating
opportunities for resolution and improved productivity."
The Learning and Collaboration group took on a productivity
initiative of its own last year, seeking to decrease content
delivery costs while increasing cost savings through outsourcing.
Pontefract and his team implemented a new outsourcing model that
sought enhanced partnerships with a significantly smaller number of
vendors, which had topped 300.
Through a rigorous RFP process, the company identified preferred
vendors in areas of specialization, forming ongoing relationships
with 60; 17 vendors are "premier partners." Results include lower
vendor management costs, more efficient content development, and
preferred delivery or facilitation rates. Combined, Learning 2.0
and the new outsourcing model accounted for learning budget savings
of more than $6 million in 2010.
Pontefract describes TELUS's corporate culture as striving toward
"tight-loose"—high on clarity and high on empowerment. Within the
Learning and Collaboration team, this is manifested as a
centralized learning group that works with learning consultants
within business units. Overall, about 200 people work in a
hub-and-spoke model. A new governance approach implemented in 2009
has improved management and spending efficiency within the learning
organization; it turns on the involvement of two groups—the Learning
Board of Governors and the Learning Stakeholders Group.
The Learning Stakeholders Group is composed of learning
professionals from across the business. They meet regularly about
enterprisewide and business-unit–specific learning needs, and
control 60 percent of the company's annual learning budget. The
other 40 percent of the budget is controlled by the Learning Board
of Governors, vice presidents from across the business who oversee
To assess the success of all learning initiatives, TELUS has taken
the bold step of abandoning the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation in
favor of its own proprietary learning analytics framework. "It
addresses our need to measure formal, informal, and social learning
and to generate a return-on-learning measure," says Pontefract.
"Learning does not solely occur in a classroom event."
Its acronym, AUGER, stands for access, usage, grade, evaluation,
and return. To manage data collection and overall analytics
reporting, TELUS designed and built a custom database that
integrates data from a diverse set of systems including Google
Analytics, SkillSoft, SAP, and the company's LMS. Data have revealed
that usage of various learning modes is 77 percent for formal, 86
percent for informal, and 74 percent for social.