Newell Rubbermaid's Brian Hults is navigating major organizational change in a way that ensures employees' skills stay fresh.
When Mark Ketchum became president and CEO of Newell Rubbermaid five years ago, he made some substantial changes to the consumer and commercial products company.
“Mark substantially changed the way we go to market, the way we sell our products and our entire business strategy, and as a result of that, we’ve had to make an awful lot of changes in the organization,” said Brian Hults, vice president of global organization and people development at Newell Rubbermaid. “This has required us to substantially change our training and our development strategy because there’s so much we have to learn.”
As a result, Hults, who oversees the talent management needs of 21,000 employees within Newell Rubbermaid, sees it as “a pretty young company” despite it being 108 years old.TM:
How have the changes Newell Rubbermaid has undergone in the past five years affected its approach to talent?Hults:
When you think about moving from a sales- [and] promotion-driven organization to being a consumer marketing organization, going from essentially a conglomerate or a holding company to more of a fully integrated operating company that operates as one Newell Rubbermaid, it requires a substantial amount of change. We’ve really had to be careful about the pacing of the training programs that we’re doing, as well as the sequencing of them. We’ve had to take what I like to think of as a differential investment approach. Just as you invest differentially in your brands — you always put more money behind the brands that grow, and you milk your brands that aren’t growing so fast — we’ve had to differentially invest in the development of our people. TM:
How is your performance management process defined?Hults:
We have a strategic planning process, which leads to an annual operating process. Out of the annual operating process, where we determine our business plan for each succeeding year, that’s where goal-setting our performance management program stems from. What a lot of people forget about performance management is it is a tool for managing individual performance, but, more importantly, it’s an organizational development tool to ensure alignment of priorities and the allocation of people and resources against key strategic initiatives. So we take that annual operating process, put that into our goals and then cascade those goals throughout our organization. We have found that to be very helpful in terms of raising the bar of organizational performance to ensure that basically everybody’s working on the right thing. And we actually do training on that. We do refresher training and new employee training on an annual basis. [Additionally,] every year we have an organization review process, where we review all of our leaders in the company, assess their competencies, talk about their strengths and their development needs, and then we translate that into their development plan. This is also the process we use to place people into key roles in the organization.