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HRM Case Study: Improving Performance Through Training at IBM

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  • 0:02 IBM's History with Training
  • 0:56 Why Invest in Training
  • 1:38 How IBM Changed Training
  • 2:26 Training Perceptions…
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Savannah Samoszuk

Savannah has over eight years of hotel management experience and has a master's degree in leadership.

IBM radically changed its approach to training its employees, which then led to improved performance. This lesson will discuss the history of training at IBM, why changes were made, and how those changes impacted IBM's overall performance.

IBM's History with Training

James is the manager of a technology company and his biggest challenge is finding the right candidates for his open positions. He attends college job fairs in the hopes of finding new talent that has the skills he is looking for, but he is still running into the problem of finding candidates that possess those skills.

All companies struggle with finding the right candidates to fill open positions. As the major technology company IBM entered the 21st century, they found a way to implement training to transform their current employees into the candidates they were looking for to meet their business needs.

IBM used to focus on hiring candidates who were already trained. However, their attitude changed when they conducted a study that found that CEO's from different countries recognized human capital as one of the most important aspects of a business and that training is essential to its success. IBM's new outlook shows the benefits of putting emphasis on training their own employees.

Why Invest in Training

IBM found that the best performing organizations in the world provided their own training and that trained employees were more likely to complete a project's objectives. If a team is tasked with a project that requires skills new to them, they may struggle to complete the project, whereas a team that has had specific training will be able to tackle it without problems or slowdowns. A properly trained team will also be able to take better care of customers and do their jobs more efficiently, leading to higher customer satisfaction and productivity. For example, if James' team is not trained to handle customer problems, then they may give the wrong information or follow incorrect protocol, leading the customer to more run-around, frustration, and feelings of distrust.

How IBM Changed Training

IBM implemented techniques to improve. They focused on smart business techniques and bridging the gap between perceptions and the reality of training. IBM discovered that it pays to work smarter instead of harder, resulting in reduced costs and increase efficiency.

To do this, IBM must:

  • Adjust to changes in business quickly
  • Use both internal and external resources to come up with new ideas
  • Make access to information easier

For example, James can move employees to certain projects based on their skills. Why have someone struggle with a project that someone else can help collaborating to finish the project faster? And by giving access of information to more employees, those employees may be able to increase knowledge and efficiency on their own instead of hunting down someone else who will have the information.

Training Perceptions vs. Reality

IBM discovered a disconnect between the perceptions of the training being provided versus what was actually needed. Turns out they were training employees in areas that were not relevant to business needs. In order to bridge this gap, IBM must:

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