People + Places

People Power

Editor’s Note: Gustavo Nechar, Vice President Human Resources, talks about how Dresser-Rand tackles the challenges and embraces the opportunities in workforce planning and talent management in today’s competitive, diverse global marketplace.

People are the main ingredient of a successful company. Recruiting, training, managing, guiding, and retaining employees are all important challenges that we and other companies face.

Being thoughtful about our future employment needs allows us develop and maintain a steady stream of skilled people to turn to when it is time to hire. An organization’s ability to identify and attract highly talented people fosters business growth and success.

As our company President and CEO, Vincent R. Volpe Jr. often says: “It’s always about the people.”

Workforce Planning a Key Ingredient to Success

One of the most important challenges that companies face, including Dresser-Rand, is workforce planning. Workforce planning takes into consideration demographics, pending retirements, employee turnover, and business development in emerging markets. Advances in technology and continuous demand for innovation require new skills in new places. Successful workforce anticipates future employment needs in terms of knowledge, competence and skills. Because we are a global company, the challenge is greater.

Today, we have three generations working together. Baby Boomers born from 1943 to 1960 constitute 27% of our workforce. Generation X employees born from 1961 to 1981 comprise 60% of our workforce. And Generation Y employees born in 1982 or later make up 13% of our workforce. The challenge is to have human resources policies that meet the needs of each generation.

For example, employees nearing the retirement age are likely to have a higher interest in health care benefits for retirees.  Whereas younger generations generally are more interested in things such as wellness initiatives and similar benefits for themselves and their families. The goal is to work with all generations to create a positive and productive work environment – the hallmark of a successful organization.

As Baby Boomers prepare for retirement, they leave gaps in leadership, client knowledge base and technical and process expertise. To that end, we must focus on succession and development plans and examine our internal talent base to fill key roles using our Organization and Leadership Planning (OLP) tool.

Building a Sustainable, International Talent Pipeline

An important part of our job is to consider our workforce make up, anticipate future employment needs and plan accordingly. We look at the next five years and determine what talents we will need in that time frame taking into consideration changing business conditions, market opportunities, technologies, workforce retirements, attritions, and required skills.

We made some key improvements in our OLP process last year and are now better able to assess the potential of our employees, next career steps and successors’ candidates. This information helps us better understand how to build a sustainable talent pipeline for Dresser-Rand’s medium- and long-term business needs.

Last year, we assessed 4,000 of our professional employees and evaluated their next career steps. We identified those nearing retirement and outlined steps for their succession plans. This year, we are delving even further into the OLP details to prepare for next year’s anticipated retirements, and identifying technical experts and future leaders.

Once we determine our future hiring needs, we must establish viable talent pools for potential openings. For example, our talent acquisition team interviewed approximately 50 people at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas. We also attended the Careers in Africa international recruitment summit in London this year – an invitation-only event completely focused on jobs in Africa that attracts a multitude of nationalities. Our booth attracted 200 potential candidates that are willing to work in emerging areas like Angola and Nigeria. These candidates’ names were added to our talent pipeline and we are staying in touch with them.

Community relations play an important role as well. We are planning for the future by enhancing our well-established relationships with universities, colleges and technical institutes, and developing research partnerships, additional apprenticeships, and co-op and intern opportunities for graduates. We continue, through partnerships and funding initiatives, to engage and educate students around the world about the opportunities available in science-based learning (see article page 13 as an example).

The Importance of Cultivating Lifelong Learning

It is important, too, to develop promising talent within the organization. Employee training and development is a strategic investment that significantly contributes to the success of our company, our employees and our clients.

Our Engineering Management Acceleration Program (EMAP) is helping us build our talent pipeline and prepare our future leaders. After candidates complete an EMAP assessment, we select talented engineers – the best-of-the-best – to participate in a five-year rotational program that includes a broad exposure to our various functions. As a global company with increased international business, we must attract and develop people from all around the world. In 2012, we launched the program in Latin America. This year, we welcomed four EMAPs that are the building blocks for the ESA – MENA region with great success, and our expansion continues next year in the Asia Pacific Region. Our global expansion is just beginning, as we look forward to fostering the career development of the 44 active program participants and 13 graduates.

Successful leaders simultaneously inspire and guide their employees. We recently created a talent management team to help develop a clear training and development strategy. Our new global leadership development program emphasizes our business, processes and people-management practices. Some examples follow.

Our intensive six-month Business Acumen course entails a series of seminars that promote individual learning opportunities and group projects. The course provides functional leaders and managers with business and financial knowledge and its application at Dresser-Rand.

Our four-day Powerful Supervisory Skills workshop for our front line supervisors and team leaders provides skills and information in operational excellence, people leadership, effective communication, conflict management, coaching, and safety. Supervisors from across the company network with peers from other Dresser-Rand locations and interact with senior leaders from across the company.

At this year’s annual Worldwide Management Meeting, we put our question – how can members of Dresser-Rand’s leadership team  become and behave like Level 5 Leaders – into action by creating our own competency leadership model. We are launching an intensive Management Development workshop based upon Jim Collins’ Good to Great Level 5 Leadership model as a way to bring all leadership to the same level.

“We believe employee expertise and responsibility result from recruiting, training and development. We encourage diversity in an environment of integrity, teamwork and empowerment”

Employee Engagement = Lower Turnover, Larger Talent Pools, Better Performance

Employees that are happy and satisfied with their roles and responsibilities are key factors to achieve steady growth and productivity in any organization.

We believe the best way to make and sustain improvements is to engage people, so we ask employees for their input. Our process innovation per employee (PIPE) system does that by capturing employees’ suggestions to improve safety and other processes.

We expect to officially launch Project GO (global onboarding) soon, a 12-month onboarding program all new employees will be required to complete. The program will provide in-depth information about our products, services and technological position in the marketplace so that new employees understand how we operate, our culture and our business practices. Project GO is critical for a new employee to quickly grasp and help sustain our corporate culture.

We continue to build robust development plans, on-the-job experiences and targeted development programs for ongoing professional development. We are deploying global job capsule methodology to map employees to a consistent job/grading structure. This improves our ability to perform market competitive analysis, and to increase accuracy in compensation-related processes as part of our “pay for performance” philosophy.

Our new learning management system will provide a powerful tool to share training, compliance and development programs, as well as resources, to support ongoing leadership development. We plan to expand upon our eLearning programs so employees can support their own personal business and leadership skill development.

Continuous Improvement

Our HR organization teamed up with the Global Information Systems (GIS) team and launched the global Oracle HR system on October 1. It is the first step in a multi-phased approach to reduce HR process cycle time by using a common database worldwide to manage key employee data and administer HR-related programs such as compensation, benefits, payroll, and training and development.

Dresser-Rand’s culture is purposefully built around the people – the lifeblood of our company. Continuous improvement will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our HR programs, while maintaining strong controls, compliance and respect of legislations.

I am proud to lead a passionate HR team that understands these goals and recognizes the value of our employees and their contributions to the success of our company, as together we strive to attain client satisfaction, stockholder value and employee engagement.

Tags: Careers, Dresser-Rand, People Power

other articles from insights issue Autumn / Winter 2013