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Celebrating Innovators: The HR Symposium

(April 3, 2008)  "In this era of nanosecond attention spans, management training needs to be engaging and experiential, an immersion that brings a learning community together," says Christine Landon, director of global executive development for Agilent. Last year, her training team won the Human Resource Innovator Award at the annual HR Symposium. This year's event will be held on May 14 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Landon's team partnered with TRI Corporation to create a simulation-based curriculum for a few weeks of sessions, bringing together upper management from many sites and units of the company. TRI's simulations have been used for management training at such firms as GE, Microsoft, Cisco, and Goldman Sachs. The training engages the managers in many aspects of corporate operations. "Many of them came from Hewlett Packard, so these people have had every training program in the book," she says. "We had to come up with something that would really engage them." Landon and her team designed the operational review component of the simulation so that managers would incorporate what they learned, across disciplines. "We didn't want them getting away with saying things like 'that doesn't apply in our department'," she says. "They find they have more in common than they tend to think. And the training isn't boring. They find it very useful."

TRI Corporation's website says that managers in their course will "experience cross-functional business exposure, and they will come to understand that a diverse pool of resources are crucial to the execution of the plan and achieving the desired results."

Another innovation of Landon's department is their system of assessing management performance using benchmarks that focus more on the external market than on internal criteria. "We base our assessments on measurable business results. We're focused outside-in rather than inside-out. We base our evaluations on what makes a world-class general manager in our field."

Jeanne Palmer, president of Human Resources, Inc., recalls the achievements of Mike McNeil, vice president of talent strategy at Intuit Corp. He was the winner of the 2006 Human Resource Innovator award for what she calls his "high-tech, high-touch" performance assessment. It's a paperless, integrated system. McNeil is legendary for his use of branding in employee recruitment at Intuit and other firms.

Human Resources, Inc, is the recipient of the funds raised from registration fees for the annual Symposium. The organization uses the funds to offer scholarships to students in graduate and undergraduate HR programs in northern California.

The theme of this year's event is "Globalization: Today's New Reality", focusing on the borderless nature of the employment market. It features a keynote address by David Pace, the former executive vice president for partner (employee) resources at Starbucks.

. - Jim Burklo - .

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