Corporations attempting to implement aggressive revenue growth goals find it necessary to work powerfully from within to implement the changes that will bring these goals to reality. Creating change, managing change, directing change—these are the actions that successful corporations like First Data Corp. increasingly nurture in order to manifest their initiatives to increase revenue.
First Data Corp.’s flagship subsidiary Western Union Financial Services Inc. pioneered the first electronic money transfer in 1871. Since then, the company has been handling the electronic transfer of money worldwide, including the first singing telegram in 1933. In 1976 the company became the first processor of VISA and MasterCard bank-issued credit. Today, Colorado-based First Data boasts 29,000 employees and continues to make history as a leading driver in the e-revolution, delivering an integrated portfolio of transaction-related products and services in more than 40 countries.
So how does First Data maintain a properly prepared workforce?
First Data worked with Fielding Graduate Institute to provide a customized e-learning program that assists First Data professionals in sharpening organizational development skills, according to Kim Davenport, Ph.D., vice president of organizational development for First Data Resources. The two-year graduate-level certificate program is delivered 100 percent online, and 30 organizational development professionals are enrolled in courses on topics such as performance management and coaching, organizational learning, electronic learning, virtual teams and collaboration. The overall aim is to create an employee skill set that aids in encouraging and managing a large-scale group change. And, after completing the coursework, employees are entitled to apply the academic credit they receive toward a full master’s degree.
The program dovetails a number of initiatives created at First Data in the year since new president and CEO Charles T. Fote set aggressive revenue goals. One of the initiatives involved creating an OD Center of Excellence at the corporate level. Housed under First Data’s Human Resources umbrella, the OD Center of Excellence provides the company’s OD professionals with their own reporting structure and dedicated staff. Through e-learning courses, these professionals are developing a community of practice that allows them to share a common understanding and approach to their day-to-day work and their efforts to manifest corporate revenue goals.
“We are learning from each other, sharing best practices and learning from each other’s mistakes,” said Davenport.
Not only does the e-learning help First Data create communities of practice within its organizational structure, it has also saved training dollars. Providing coursework online instead of face-to-face makes it extremely cost-effective. According to Davenport, First Data no longer incurs travel costs or other out-of-office costs. “Frankly,” she said, “it is one of the most cost-effective ways to get a number of OD, HR and training professionals into a learning program.”
And, providing training and communities of practice helps First Data maintain a satisfied and productive workforce.
“Employees want and expect their employers to provide opportunities for training and development,” said Davenport. “It’s well documented that it’s a key component of employee satisfaction and loyalty. We know that First Data Corp. employees are hungry for more training and development, and we’re constantly working to find new ways and opportunities to deliver it.”
Christi A. Olson, Ph.D. is Fielding Graduate Institute’s associate dean for e-learning and partnerships and director of the Organizational Management and Organizational Development programs. Contact Olson at email@example.com.