This Company’s Employees Use Lynda.com More Than Any of its Peers. Here's Why.
February 20, 2017
The employees at MicroStrategy have learned a lot this year.
Under the direction of its CEO Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy, a Washington, D.C.-based business intelligence and analytics platform for enterprises, created a new Employee Development Team in April 2016. Acting as a learning and development (L&D) department, the goal is to scale a program across the company’s 2,000 employees to improve engagement, increase performance, and support career growth. All of which must be closely measured with data. The timeline: ASAP.
Less than a year later, the plan is in place, thanks to Vice President of Talent Management, Amy Rossi – who was hired to lead the program – and her powerful team of four. Since Rossi’s employee development team began working on the initiative in April, they’ve created 19 learning paths at the company, and all employees are engaged in the learning program.
Results to date are impressive, as MicroStrategy has the highest Lynda.com engagement level of any Lynda.com customer of its peers (namely, organizations with 1,000+ Lynda.com seats). Their ranking was determined using an aggregate measurement of usage that takes into account user login and learning content consumption rates.
“One of our core values at MicroStrategy is being agile,” Rossi said. “And self-improvement is a big part of that. It’s part of our company’s DNA.”
Beyond just the high engagement, MicroStrategy is looking to show – with hard metrics – if its new learning program is increasing both employee engagement and overall performance. And while it’s too early to report results, the company has installed the necessary tracking to show progress.
What MicroStrategy’s L&D program looks like
When Rossi started at MicroStrategy, some teams had their own training programs, but there was no company-wide L&D department. To create an L&D program that could scale for all 2,000 employees at all MicroStrategy locations, Rossi and her team took their CEO’s vision and identified and created 19 learning paths that covered a wide variety of skills, such as sales, engineering and even how to learn. This included identifying experts working at MicroStrategy to teach classes and designing curriculum that teach specific competencies.
For example, MicroStrategy subject matter experts teach a class on Sales Engineering that’s recorded so employees can watch it on their own time. Lynda.com courses are assigned as a supplement to those classes.
When employees complete a learning path, they are assessed on how strong they are in the skills it covered. Assessments are created by MicroStrategy subject matter experts in conjunction with the Employee Development Team.
How does Rossi determine what learning paths to create? It’s two-fold.
First, some of the classes cover MicroStrategy core technology platform and business processes. Second, employees are surveyed each quarter and asked what skills they’d most like to learn, and learning paths are created based on the most frequent responses.
Every MicroStrategy employee is also required to set at least one learning goal each quarter, in connection with their Employee Performance process. Learning goals can be as straightforward as completing a specific learning course or more outcome-based. An example of the latter would be publishing an article on LinkedIn, like Yuliya May, senior talent development consultant, did when she penned “Everyday Learning Mindset.” Hence, every employee is commited to learning each quarter.
How MicroStrategy measures the effectiveness of its L&D program
Being a big data company, MicroStrategy puts an emphasis on proving with data the effectiveness of all its programs, including its L&D program. Hence, Rossi meets with CEO Michael Saylor twice a month, and what he looks for most in those meetings is data-backed results. Saylor looks to ensure that employees are learning and that there are metrics in place to measure how much they are learning.
Again, the goal of the program is two-fold: increase employee engagement and increase employee performance. MicroStrategy surveys all of its employees once a quarter to identify and share career goals. These inputs help Leadership and the Employee Development Team optimize learning by planning training, identifying internal transfers, and supporting career paths. That, coupled with the company’s retention and performance metrics, should provide insight into whether L&D is moving the engagement needle.
Showing that employees’ overall skill levels are improving is a bit trickier. But MicroStrategy has a robust quarterly performance review process, and Rossi is looking to measure if each employee’s capability in a specific area improves once they finish a learning course and how this connects to overall performance.
She’s also working on a “capability index” to see how much employees apply the skills they’ve learned. As a BI and data analytics company, MicroStrategy is taking this unique opportunity to pull all of this data into its own “Employee Development Dashboard” for benchmarking and measurements.
There’s a lot to like about the MicroStrategy Employee Development Program, particularly considering it has been in use for just the past 10 months. Having an employee base that’s the most engaged with Lynda.com has helped make it a success, but it extends far beyond that as well.
What really makes the MicroStrategy strategy stand out is C-level vision and involvement and the company’s reliance on data. The Employee Development Team uses data to both shape the program, deciding what learning paths to build, and to see how effective the program is, by measuring how good those learning paths are at increasing skill level and learning engagement. Rossi notes that often times these programs live in a silo that’s untouched by the executive team, but MicroStrategy is proving that there’s a magic mix when HR and the corner office share a vision.
By using a data-focused model, the MicroStrategy program should only get better. Using what it learns from employees as well as performance metrics, the Employee Development team can continually tailor its program to best meet the needs of both the business and its employees.
And that’s a recipe for success.
*Image of Amy Rossi and her MicroStrategy Talent Management Team