Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Corporate University Week: Leveraging Learning to Engage Employees and Foster Culture at BMO

Second presentation as part of the Corporate University Week opening session.  These are my live blogged notes.

Barbara Dirks
Chief Learning Officer Institute for Learning
BMO Financial Group (1600+ branches in North America)  Bank of Montreal…

Vision: To be the bank that defines great customer experience.

Starbucks, Disney, – they have a unifying vision.

L&D function is now more strategic part of the organization.

World class corporate university in Toronto. Also a CU in Milwaukee area.  Plus satellite locations. “The Institute for Learning” – established in 1994.  Originally a more supply-based organization. Over the past three years become far more connected to the business.

Employee Engagement

Employees spend about 6.2 days a year on learning.

What is employee engagement and why does it matter?


speaking positively about the org…intense desire to be a member of that org…to contribute to the business

How do we design/dev learner that drives engagement?

Four key focus areas:

  • Orientation and new hires – to cement relationships with new ees.  Inspire engagement and make people feel welcome. How do you fit into the big picture. Research shows that those orgs that spend the most on orientation have highest levels of engagement.
    photo (6)
    Shows elearning menu which is a blueprint of the organization. Different “rooms” in the building – can’t move from room to room until you’ve viewed all of the videos, etc. in each room. CEO’s vision, etc. Launched through the LMS so they can track that people have done it.

    In addition to general orientation, provide role orientation (e.g., branch manager curriculum) – takes 7 months to be role ready to be a branch manager…
  • Leadership Development

    Starts with orientation. Very deliberate in development of program – senior leaders. Mandatory thing – 1.5 day senior leadership orientation.

    Need strong leaders to drive engagement of employees.

    3 phase leadership curriculum: first time managers, for managers of managers, for executives.

    3 days in a classroom setting followed by the on the job practicum…over 6-18 months.

    Won an ASTD BEST Award for this program.
  • Customer-Focused

    It’s important that employees should care that a company/customer is doing well financially.  Bring the voice of the customer into the classroom – big impact.  Through videos, audio…Developing a course now on understanding our customers – to make a better connection for those in the back office – their role in the ecosystem of the customer experience.

  • Blended Learning

    Supplements to in-class learning – videocasts, podcasts, webinars, social learning – want to be able to deliver learning anytime, anywhere.


Annual employee surveys show positive trends.

Collaboration is also a key theme. How people work together for the vision to succeed. That collab starts at the top.

What does leadership mean? It means being with people. It’s reinforcing the vision. It’s dialog. It starts at the top – the CEO role models this.

Also do a number of internal conferences for the 5000 managers of people.

Merged three organizations and had to merge cultures.

They do a lot of work with Root Learning to create “learning maps”.

Discussion about how to measure the success of learning – she says so much of it is intangible (in discussing their orientation program on vision/culture)…

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