Going Door to Door: Talent at UPS

 -  6/5/10

The international shipping company delivers via internally groomed talent.

The international shipping company delivers via internally groomed talent.

Delivering to more than 220 countries, UPS covers a lot of ground, and it takes a lot of employees to do it — more than 415,000 in total, 44,000 of those managerial. The vast majority of this management staff — 75 percent — began their careers at UPS either driving or loading UPS’s trademark brown trucks.

According to Amy Whitley, vice president of human resources at UPS, promoting from within defines UPS’s approach to talent management; any given employee of the international shipping company has likely learned it from the ground up. Whitley discussed with Talent Management how this approach helps keep everyone at UPS on the same street.

TM: Describe UPS’s approach to talent management.

Whitley: Jim Casey started the company way back in 1907, and from the beginning his philosophy was promotion from within, growing our talent from the inside. More than 75 percent of our full-time managers, including most of our VPs, were once non-management employees, so they began their careers as a loader-unloader or as a package driver. That’s how I started my career. So it’s been our approach to make sure that our employees understand the business, how we make money [and] how we develop and align customer service. It helps everyone to focus on what the core business is, so as they do progress in their careers they can always reflect back on that and how it ties to their current management job responsibilities.

Occasionally we do hire people midcareer, and we also try to give those people exposure to the business; during peak season — the holiday rush — we’ll put them out on assignment so they get that exposure to the business.

TM: What processes or programs has UPS established to improve the performance of its entire workforce?

Whitley: A couple of years ago, we embarked on a large project [of] establishing job models. That was something we [did] to make sure that we had that basic foundation, which really defined each role of every management person within the organization. They became foundational, [giving] us visibility to clear expectations of job performance and job duties, skill gaps, including competencies, and standard information for recruiting, [such as] job summaries. We use this information to make our job setting and performance management process more robust [so we can] focus our career development process on competency development. It’s helped to change our approach to training and development and given us that foundation, so as we enhance other programs within the organization, we’ve got job models to focus on first. Before that, people really didn’t have this [knowledge of] their current jobs or other jobs that they might be interested in learning more about.

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