Autodesk is all about radically transformation. Its CAD software has revolutionized the way designers and engineers build things. More recently, it has moved into the maker movement, supporting all types of creative endeavors from independent inventors and designers.
The company has even applied this transformative approach to the way it trains and develops employees.
The Challenge: Adapting Work To A Global Environment
Autodesk is located in 60 countries, with 120 offices globally. Over the years, it had made numerous acquisitions, further expanding its horizons. Product managers and developers were struggling to coordinate across geography and different time zones to achieve their project objective. They were experiencing a lack of trust, accountability and communication and difficulty having effective meetings. As a result, they found it more difficult to be productive and get things done when part of a global multi-functional team than they did when they were part of a traditional co-located team. “We looked into the research and found even things like lack of sleep and change were impacting people’s productivity,” said Harry Wittenberg, senior manager of HR and learning development. “We didn’t have anything to offer people. We had one classroom training that covered working with different cultures, but there was no way to scale it.”
Autodesk’s leaders realized they had to leverage technology and offer training content that was specifically targeted to this need. As a first step, Autodesk implemented a learning management system (LMS) that allows employees to access e-learning courses to advance their leadership skills at their own pace by taking online courses from anywhere around the world. The company licensed online courses from Harvard Business School and others on a variety of management and leadership topics.
Working with OnPoint Consulting, they expanded their course offerings to include virtual leadership, working in a virtual environment, and working on global cross-functional teams. Wittenberg said he liked the fact that OnPoint’s training was based on original research, including our Virtual Team Study, which examined 48 virtual teams across industries to uncover what the most effective ones had in common.
Working together, Autodesk and OnPoint developed the Leading From A Distance curriculum, a series of 90-minute, instructor-led online programs designed to equip virtual leaders with the skills they need to help their teams success. Program topics included building trust, managing accountability and hosting effective virtual meetings. “It was easy to do virtually, and managers saw the need,” Wittenberg said. “It was the right thing at the right time, at the right price point. We made it very interactive with break-out sessions and follow-up work.”
The Impact of Virtual Leadership Training
Five years later, Autodesk still offers the Matrix e-learning courses and the Leading From A Distance program as part of its online offerings. Total enrollment in the online courses has doubled each year, and the courses continue to get high marks in evaluations. The Leading From a Distance programs were so successful Autodesk also licensed OnPoint’s e-learning suite of courses on Effectively Working in a Matrix, which covers skills such as effective judgment and decision-making in a matrix, managing accountability and influencing remotely.
Even more telling, on Autodesk’s annual employee engagement survey, Wittenberg has seen an increase in the number of employees who say they are receiving the training and believe their manager cares about their development. “I have to believe a part of it is due to this course,” he said. If your organization is looking for a way to make training more flexible and accessible for employees, OnPoint can help. We offer training programs in a variety of formats and can also work with your organization to develop a customized solution.
OnPoint Consulting and Autodesk will host a webinar at 12 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 12 on the keys to creating and launching a program to develop leadership in a global environnment. Registration is free, but space is limited. Register now to secure your spot!
Source: Rick Lepsinger
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