Learning COVID-19 Recording: Johnson Control's Karen Basile & Jennifer Herrod - 7/09/20

In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help Learning and Development leaders navigate this unpredictable time.

Meeting highlights:

This week’s Learning and Development action call hosted two special guests from Johnson Controls (a 135-year old company that produces Fire, HVAC, and Security equipment for buildings and has over 100,000 employees): Karen Basile, VP, Product and Channel Learning and Jennifer Herrod, Sr. Director, Talent COE: Global Learning and Development. They were interviewed by i4cp CEO and co-founder Kevin Oakes and Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone. Here are five highlights from the call:

1.     L&D has been very active during the COVID-19 pandemic period. As with many organizations, Basile noted that the L&D team at Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) has been as busy as ever over the past few months, supporting new and urgent needs of the organizations and using this crisis as a way to accelerate important changes and initiatives already underway. As with many we’ve talked with recently, they have seen a massive shift to virtual classroom since March—in fact, vILT now outpaces ILT at the organization (even with a large number of employees who have continued to work on-site in manufacturing or other settings). A key virtual classroom program during this time has been their Transformative Leadership course, targeted to individual contributors and managers for both leading self and leading teams, which covers timely topics such as Emotional Intelligence, Courageous and Empathetic Conversations, Understanding & Managing Change, Building Resilience and Agility, and Leading Virtually. 

2.     L&D has been elevated to an enterprise function at Johnson Controls. One of the initiatives that has been accelerated during the COVID-19 period at JCI has been an evolution that we’ve seen at other large enterprises in recent years: the elevation and transformation of L&D into an enterprise-level function. At JCI, this has included three main pillars: growing a learning culture in the organization, energizing business growth by enabling workforce skills and capability geared towards growth and driven by data, and creating an agile and simple technology ecosystem that better supports learning in the flow of work. This process involved six distinct workstreams: internal benchmarking, operationalizing a governance model, creating a learning brand, defining a learning experience platform, establishing learning metrics and KPIs, and stabilizing the internal LMS. It also structured the function into four key teams: global design and development, learning technology, learning deployment, and leadership and enterprise learning.

3.     The Women’s Network at JCI is going virtual for their next summit. Basile and Herrod described a very strong Business Resource Group (BRG) at JCI, the Women’s Network (WN). This group’s mission is to harness the power, influence and intelligence of Johnson Controls women employees to establish a community that fosters professional development and mentoring, cross-functional networking, relationship building, sharing and support, leadership outside traditional work roles, corporate awareness and advancement of women's issues. Such BRGs (or ERGs, Employee Resource Groups, as they are known at some companies) are as important as ever during a pandemic when so many employees need to find new ways to connect with and support each other while working from home or in other non-traditional ways. To that end, the WN will be hosting a full-day virtual summit for Johnson Control women at all levels with the theme of “Be what’s next.” The summit will include executive sponsor addresses, internal and external keynote speakers, senior female JCI leadership panels, personal/professional workshops, and leader-led roundtable discussions—all spread out in a 24-hours, follow-the-sun format to support the global audience at JCI.

4.     L&D can support children of working parents. The talents of a corporate L&D function can be leveraged to support more than the employees of the organization, as JCI recently proved through its “Johnson Controls for Kids Campaign.” Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis where so many children are not at school and so need educational activities at home, the L&D team at JCI has created a learning program related to JCI’s product line and areas of expertise. In June the team rolled out an Activity Book (available for download here) for kids that includes coloring book pages, links to animated clips featuring Johnson Controls products, and paper 3D cut-out templates that enable kids to build their own JCI Service Van and an entire City with various building types that represent the different vertical markets that JCI  serves. Also included in this initiative are several videos (available on YouTube) that use characters to educate kids on key concepts:

·       Professor Frio (refrigeration cycle video)

·       Amelia Airflow (a basic HVAC mission video)

·       Mr. BAS (building automation system video)

·       Mr. BTU (Life of a BTU video)   

5.     L&D is involved in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion for employees. During the call we asked participants this question: “What if anything is your organization’s learning and development function doing in response to calls for change regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion for employees?” The responses varied, but indicated that most organization’s L&D functions are doing an average of three of each of the following:

·       63% Providing education, coaching, or other support for managers on having conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion

·       57% Updating or creating anti-bias education resources

·       57% Working with your organization’s Chief Diversity Officer or equivalent leader / function to determine the best ways L&D can support their initiatives

·       53% Facilitating crucial conversations among employees and managers

·       43% Curating multiplatform educational resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion that employees can both access and contribute to

·       40% Creating education resources on allyship

·       27% Offering or expanding leadership development opportunities for underrepresented groups

·       7% We are not doing anything yet, but are considering what we might do soon

·       3% Nothing yet

·       0% Don’t know

In addition to the recording and notes, please see these resources: