In today’s fast-paced business environment, more is always being asked of leaders and managers. In order to keep up with the changing marketplace, organizations are putting programs in place that ensure the ongoing development of their people leaders. Providing these key individuals with opportunities to hone their skills increases their engagement at work, sets them up to tackle a broader range of objectives and allows them to demonstrate the value they bring to an organization.
At WEX, we recognize that great leaders are not born, but made and contribute to a great workplace. In fact, in our recent Great Place to Work® certification, 88% of our employees surveyed said they have great bosses and 84% said that management is honest and ethical in its business practices. This serves as more proof that leadership development programs are vital not only to our employees, but also to our continued growth.
Whether someone is promoted into a people-managing position at WEX or is a new hire, WEXpectations training provides all the HR tools and resources needed to be successful in leading a team at WEX. The two-day program is informed by two interlocking cycles that every manager faces. At the center is the annual cycle of goal setting, followed by team performance, feedback and rewards. Orbiting around this are the life cycles of each team member, including joining the organization, performing, vacations and leaves and, ultimately, moving on from the team or the company.
During WEXpectations training, participants learn about:
- Coaching team members for optimal performance
- WEX compensation programs as well as rewards and recognition programs
- Legal aspects of our relationship with employees
- WEX systems and processes to support people managers
“We recognize how critical the role of people leadership is to the organization, and we want to ensure our people leaders achieve the development goals of their teams, as well as their business objectives. WEXpectations was developed to provide a grounding in all the fundamental tools, programs and systems a manager needs to be successful in leading their team here at WEX,” said John Tynan, WEX global director of human resources.
WEXpectations has been in place for five years, building on earlier manager training programs. In 2014, human resources conducted an in-depth analysis to dig into the key needs of leaders at WEX. The result was the launch of two more internal initiatives: the Integrated Management Development Program (IMDP) and the Integrated Leadership Development Program (ILDP). The IMDP targets managers and team leads, while the ILDP focuses on senior leaders, VPs and directors. Both programs take a holistic approach to leadership and stress the importance of upscaling individuals by playing on their unique strengths, not by creating carbon-copies.
Over the course of the three-day, on-site program, WEXers build practical skills and individual management styles that will carry them through their careers for years to come. Designed specifically for new and experienced managers, the IMDP addresses three key tenets: me as a manager, me and my team and me at WEX.
During the IMDP, participants learn how to:
- Improve communication
- Manage conflict more effectively
- Manage a meeting
- Delegate and define decision rights
- Influence without authority
“To make sure the program sticks,” says Katelyn Gendron, an organizational development specialist at WEX, “we have monthly review sessions focused on key topics, so that participants can practice applying what they have learned. We also have focused reviews that bring managers and team leaders together, that reinforce the personal relationships they started to build in the program.”
At the core of the five-day offsite program is a desire to provide leaders with an understanding of what it means to lead in an international organization. Alison Soine-Norris, director of global organization development at WEX, says that “you and I are colleagues, it doesn’t matter where we sit – we experience the same challenges. We may be working on different products, but we can work together to come up with solutions that ultimately knit WEX together.”
During the ILDP, participants learn how to:
- work across silos
- empower their team
- improve their executive presence
- build their unique, individual leadership philosophy
- think strategically and systematically
On the last day of the program, participants work with an executive coach to integrate their learnings and develop their personal action plan. Throughout the 11 months following, they meet with their coach for 12 hours of additional guidance to incorporate learnings and achieve their leadership objectives.
As management and leaders continue to move through these existing development programs, the HR and OD teams have an eye towards the future needs of WEX leadership. The next phase of development at WEX – currently in concept – will be much more personalized. Leaders will be given individualized development opportunities so that they can develop their skills on their own, as opposed to in cohort. However, the importance of personal connections is not lost. Frequent meetings, communications, and mentoring of IMDP members by ILDP alums, as well as coaching and support from dedicated HR business partners, help to keep WEXers together.
These programs are built off of real-life scenarios, allowing WEX leadership to hone skills with concrete results back to the organization. “Melissa [Smith] has been a tremendous advocate and sponsor, and the executive leadership team genuinely supports these individuals attending the programs,” says Soine-Norris. “It’s heartening to see how leadership is committed to their folks’ development. This level of support is unique at WEX.”