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 friendly."

"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, an initiative that leverages learning-supported decision making to drive process and productivity gains. 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 productivity improvement initiatives delivered an incredible $13 million in business benefits.

"TLP is at the heart of," 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 enterprisewide initiatives.

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.