Volvo Case Study

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As part of HDA’s sustained commitment to supporting our clients, we regularly work with world-class organisations to obtain insights into their talent management strategies and successes. With this in mind HDA has recently collaborated with Volvo Cars to create a short case study on their approach to effectively managing talent – with particular emphasis on their Competence Management Framework and Lean Academy both of which are intrinsically linked to enhancing employee engagement levels and ensuring long-term success. Talent Management will and always has been a crucial component of successful business management. It is important to develop practical strategies for ensuring your key talent are engaged, motivated and ultimately committed to your organisation and its objectives. Reflecting this, Volvo Car Corporation has developed a Talent Management strategy that reflects the requirement for organisational capability to meet business commitments in the short, medium and long term. For Volvo, organisational capability is about having the right competences in place and the right levels of commitment to utilise those competences in an ever-changing and fiercely competitive global economy. So the starting point, for their Talent Management strategy, is a Competence Framework. Competence Management Process The Volvo Competence Management Framework was established in 2006, in the hopes of refining their approach to training and development – moving from a subjective, fairly ad hoc approach to a more systematic, consistent and objective process. The Framework is built on the six generic competences which the company believes all employees should have. These competencies are considered essential if Volvo is to strengthen their people-centric culture; continue to operate successfully in the premium segment of the global automotive industry; and deliver on their brand promise to “design cars for a better life”. For leaders, there is an additional component to the Framework as they are assessed against four key competences deemed as essential in delivering business success through people. Alongside the generic employee and leadership competences, Volvo has also identified the specific competencies required for each role/function to deliver business commitments both now and in the future. In order to determine progress against these competencies, employees and leaders are assessed (self and supervisor assessment) against the framework according to the Volvo standards of: Acquire, Apply, Guide and Shape. A development discussion is then had around this assessment and a personal development plan is produced. As demand for learning far outweighs the resources available to satisfy all needs, any competence gaps identified are then prioritised in order of importance for business continuity. Once priorities are determined the competence area specialist group identifies ways to provide high quality learning solutions at the lowest affordable cost.

The Competence Management Framework in itself provides a greater return on investment than previous training and development activity as it enables Volvo to achieve more learning for less as a result of the systematic approach which eliminates ad hoc, subjective training requests. In addition, competence gaps are now defined and identified within a business context and so learning solutions are more closely aligned to business needs. The Framework also drives the Operating Management to think more radically about strategic needs in terms of competencies and so the focus is shifted from the short to medium/long term. In the current climate, with constraints on the budgets related to managing and developing talent, organisations are finding it increasingly challenging to facilitate and promote a culture of continuous learning. The transparency of Volvo’s Framework combats this by reinforcing a learning culture; whereby individuals take responsibility for...
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