The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), founded in 1988, is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV/ AIDS. In early 2010, EGPAF rolled out a global talent management strategy to align its workforce operating across 15 countries to its mission: to end pediatric HIV/AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs.
We recently asked Chrissie Shea and Megan Mahoney, Associate Directors of Human Resources at EGPAF, a few questions about the lessons they’ve learned in implementing a global talent management strategy. Here’s what they had to say:
From your experience, what are the major challenges associated with rolling out a global talent management strategy? How did you address these challenges?
Chrissie: We have over 1,000 employees in 15 different countries. When we launched Halogen, we opened up an annual review process (our most comprehensive, time-consuming process) for every employee at the same time. Now, looking back, that time was a little bit crazy! If we had to do it again, we would do it in one of two ways:
the system in all countries at once but teach each individual employee to
create their goals and development plans and use the system basics as a first
step before asking them to go through an
appraisal process; or
- Launch an appraisal process in one pilot country, learn the tips and tricks of working through the back end of the system, and then launch the process in the remaining countries.
We encountered another challenge in that we tried to replicate our paper-based appraisal process in our new online system. The problem was that the old system wasn’t being used in every country, which made it difficult to get buy-in from across the organization at the outset.
We recognized along the way that getting employee input from all levels of staff, including executive buy-in, is key to ensuring employees feel they are getting the most value out of the system. We addressed this issue by running global focus groups to collect employee feedback on areas of performance management that we should keep, and areas we should change. We then updated our processes to reflect this feedback.
What kinds of things did you have to consider in the design of your talent management strategy to account for cultural and regional differences?
Megan: Different languages! We translate everything into Portuguese and French and are considering adding Swahili. Many of our offices in various countries do not have a strong Internet connection, which has been a major challenge. We implemented Riverbed Technology throughout all of our offices, which has increased internet speed and access, and improved our ability to use Halogen.
How did you ensure buy-in of the talent management strategy across the organization? How important was this to its success?
Chrissie: We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for employees to use the system right from the outset and we’ve been clearly and consistently communicating our philosophy behind our global performance management strategy across the organization. We have offered training both on how to use the system and on why we’re using the system, for example: goal setting workshops, employee empowerment training, and more.
We also maintain toolkits of information for each process and make various guides and support documents available to all employees. The key to getting employee buy-in was running focus groups to solicit employee feedback on how we could better align our talent management processes to our culture.
How does your talent management strategy support consistency and the
alignment of goals across the organization? How has this supported the
Megan: The Foundation has six core values: innovation, passion, excellence, teamwork, leadership and accountability. Prior to launching our global performance management processes and system, there was little alignment from across our offices in various countries. In most cases, performance conversations were not being held and reviews were not being consistently completed.
Within the last few years, we have been able to strongly focus on one of our values – accountability – by using Halogen’s system and reporting analytics. The system and processes we have put in place have allowed our organization to align our talent management strategy across the organization, ensure employees have strong objectives in place, and ensure fairness and consistency within employee ratings, which directly correlate to our compensation process.
Employees and managers are now held accountable for completing reviews. Additionally, we have enabled our HR colleagues in each country to use the system back end, and educate and follow up with their colleagues in-country to ensure review and feedback conversations are happening and that the annual and mid-year review processes are completed on time.
While EGPAF’s mission is the elimination of pediatric HIV/AIDS, we strongly believe in building a sustainable workforce across all the countries in which we operate – and by empowering our HR colleagues, we have built capacity in our field offices.
A talent management strategy that supports accountability
As a result of aligning its talent management strategy to its organizational strategy, EGPAF has created a culture where managers and employees are actively engaged in the performance review process and discuss goal progression on a regular basis. There’s a greater appreciation among managers for the need to share feedback, and among employees for taking charge of their own development.
Your turn: Do you have any lessons learned to share from rolling out a global talent management strategy?