Mention "Wells Fargo" to most people, and the first thing that's apt to come to mind is "branch banking," says April Taylor, VP and recruiting manager for Wells Fargo's Corporate Human Resource Recruitment Sourcing Solutions team.
As the financial services company has expanded over the years, however, its product and service offerings have followed suit—and today encompass approximately 84 different lines of business, served by some 170,000 Wells Fargo team members.
Diverse career opportunities abound for these team members, says Taylor. The problem? "Traditionally, when people came to work at Wells Fargo, they tended to grow and develop only within their single line of business," she says. "Back in 2001, we recognized the need to not only expand their awareness of the multifaceted opportunities available to them here, but also to expand their knowledge of the enterprise beyond a 'silo approach' and develop our leadership pipeline."
Training recently spoke with Taylor about the program that resulted from this realization—and what makes it work:
Training: What does the program entail? How does it work from a logistical perspective?
Taylor: We hire more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students annually to participate in one of 13 professional "Team Member Development" programs, all of which are designed to prepare new hires for future management positions and expose them to all areas of our business. Ranging in length from six to 24 months, each program exposes new hires to a variety of processes, technical concepts and current business projects. As part of the programs, participants receive targeted business training, which is supplemented by a leadership and professional skills curriculum. They also receive a formal mentor and are frequently exposed to senior management within their business lines.
All participants also are included in our six-month "Class of 200X" program, which offers participants exposure to the larger company, senior management, and one another—creating a sense of community and strong working relationships. The program includes bi-monthly Webcast trainings and networking opportunities with management and peers. All participants also attend an annual three-day conference in San Francisco where they gain exposure to other business lines through senior management presentations while networking with their peers and with alumni of the programs.
Training: What results has the program delivered to date?
Taylor: Since its inception, more than 900 team members have graduated from the "Class of 200X" program, including four senior executives. Overall, these alumni have achieved higher performance ratings, faster promotions and longer company retention than many of their direct-hire co-workers.
I think a lot of those successes are due to the fact that graduates of the program have an enhanced awareness of the array of career opportunities available to them at Wells Fargo, not only in their own line of business, but in others as well. Through the program, they also build a strong network of colleagues that isn't limited by geography or business-area specialization. Just knowing whom to turn to as a resource, I think, is helping these graduates accomplish their career goals at a faster rate. Most importantly, the program is really helping us to build very strong, capable leaders who will be able to take Wells Fargo to the next stage.
Training: What are some of the best practices associated with the program—or tips you have for others interested in launching something similar?
- Track and flag. As I look back, I wish we had built a more all-encompassing tracking tool from the get-go. To date, it has been somewhat difficult to track the progress of all program participants because we are such a decentralized organization and each line of business has its own tracking methods in place. To make tracking easier in the future, we are in the process of developing a more centralized tool that will allow everyone to enter information into a single database and allow us to generate real-time reports with dashboard metrics. We also are actively looking at ways to flag participants of the program as emerging leaders and then track the career progress of alumni of the program—a mechanism that will become a key best practice once it is in place.
- Redefine over time. We always are looking for ways to more effectively serve our target audience, which changes over time. Generation Y, for example, wants different things than Generation X—and vice versa. In the beginning of the program, for example, we started out by distributing books for all participants to read. We then recognized how online-savvy our target audience was becoming, so we began to look for ways to more fully utilize technology and also develop more online educational opportunities for our audience. Last year we began conducting monthly and quarterly Webinars, and the response has been great. We also recently created a new internal blog for alumni of the program. It’s a place for them to ask questions, network, and stay connected with one another.
- Be selective. These programs are designed to fast-track Wells Fargo's future leaders—which means, naturally, that most of the people we hire would love to sign up. Obviously, you can't serve everyone, so you have to really know whom you are going after and get clear on your criteria for selection. If I had to point to one characteristic that we look for in our program candidates, it is proven leadership ability. We identify that and other skills through a fairly stringent interview and screening process.
Wells Fargo — Company is a financial services organization headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. In 2007, the company placed 38th on Training magazine's Top 125 list, an annual ranking of organizations that excel at human capital development.