This week’s Learning and Development action call hosted special guest Akil Walton, Vice President, Global Talent Management at Tech Data. An American multinational distribution company specializing in IT products and services, Tech Data is headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, has over $40 billion in revenue, and 17,000 employees primarily in the US, France, Italy, Germany, and several locations in Asia. Walton was interviewed by i4cp CEO and co-founder Kevin Oakes. Here are some highlights from the call:
Listening has been key during the pandemic. Like many organizations in 2020, Walton said that Tech Data has increased the frequency of pulse surveys, covering topics such as remote work, return to the office questions, and more. The organization is interested to determine are people staying connected, are they engaged, are they building trust? There is a small percentage of employees, e.g., in their distribution centers, who are surveyed separately and have been given additional resources from a safety and support standpoint. A question along the lines of "Management is doing everything they can to support my safety in the work environment" is in the high 90 percent range, and similarly around 90% indicate a strong level of trust in their manager.
On the issue of globalization vs. regionalization. One consequence of COVID-19 at many organizations, Tech Data included, has been some regionalization between colleagues, e.g., having different circumstances on the ground, or business travel restricted, such that efforts towards globalization in the business have been slowed or reduced. Walton said they need to think global, but act local. The areas most impacted in this way have been sales, engineering, and finance, all groups that need to have a high degree of global collaboration. So the plan is to focus on those groups first, and carry over some cultural impacts to others. Given their recent acquisition by Apollo, the organization is going to bring more leaders into the transformation change management aspects of this. A goal will be to educate colleagues with similar roles via personas to see how they are similar, that they use the same tools, etc., even across the business and the globe.
Talent programs should work together. Walton oversees a broad set of talent management areas at Tech Data, allowing him to put in place an integrated set of programs. Included are Empower which focuses on training anytime, anywhere with no approval needed; Touchpoints which is their performance management program; Bravo as the rewards/recognition program, and Welcome which is the onboarding solution.
Upskilling remains a focus. Via Tech Data's Empower platform, individuals can choose what sort of training modality they like most, while still having learning/career paths that make clear the requirements for each role and the directions individuals can take (up or across the organization). The development team measures the connection between knowledge and application and ultimate business outcomes. Upskilling focus areas include:
- Management / Leadership. Three years ago the scores were lower than desired on trust (in both directions), and on empowerment, culture, and more. So they have been focusing on this since then.
- Next-generation technology. Here a focus is on increased understanding of how to market and sell their own IP and their vendor partner services. The approach includes role-based competencies, assessment on each, and then closing any important gaps. Training comes from both the internal development team and from vendors on topics such as cloud, security, IoT, analytics, etc.
In addition to this recording, please see the the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center for new research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.