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June 2, 2021

Top 4 Ways to Improve Employee Development


In physics, escape velocity refers to the minimum speed needed for a free, non-propelled object to escape the gravitational influence of a massive body. Escape velocity depends on how far the object has already traveled, considering that, without new acceleration, it will slow down as it travels.

For Jesse Jackson, head of learning and talent solutions for JPMorgan Chase, escape velocity refers to a different kind of momentum: helping employees become the best versions of themselves. Jackson believes that elevating each individual’s contribution to the business improves the performance of the entire enterprise.

To learn more about this philosophy—and how an organization can improve employee development and create an environment that supports escape velocity—I sat down for a discussion with Jesse Jackson on The Adapter’s Advantage podcast.

> Listen and Subscribe Now: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | TuneIn

Here, I share the top four takeaways from our conversation on employee learning and development.

1. Employee Growth in the Age of Acceleration

After completing five years of active service in the Navy, Jackson began an expansive career at JPMorgan Chase. In his twenty-five years with the organization, he has held national leadership roles within commercial and business banking.

Today, Jackson leads the direction and strategy of a globally distributed learning organization, supporting more than 240,000 bank employees worldwide and developing learning content with strategic vendors.

“I bring passion and energy to helping employees enhance their contribution and attain levels of success that let them reimagine their career trajectory,” says Jackson. “Employees are able to grow in directions that are accretive to how we deliver value to our clients and, equally important, how we adapt in this age of acceleration.”

At JPMorgan Chase, each employee has a specific engagement plan that is aligned with the organization’s goals, which include helping the individual become successful, helping the business become successful, and ensuring that JPMorgan Chase is not just investing in jobs but improving employee development and providing careers for its global team.

2. The Power of Experiential Learning

Jackson proudly displays his teller-training certificate on the wall in his home office. He takes pride in having navigated that training, but the certificate also serves as a reminder of the value of experiential learning.

For Jackson and his fellow classmates, teller training was a practical, hands-on, repetitive engagement that occurred over several weeks. When tellers were finally put in front of customers to perform transactions, they were prepared to handle not just the transactional aspects but also the experiential element of a customer being at the window.

As I noted during the interview, so much of our learning is informed by the academic model. But many of us, myself included, don’t learn best from a book or from sitting in a classroom in a one-way communication. My learning strategy is experiential. You want me to process the check? Show me how to do it and then let me do it—that’s how I learn.

Jackson agrees, sharing that the value of experiential learning goes well beyond teller training and is important to every area of the organization.

“That experience-based learning, which illustrates what excellence looks like, permeates our environment. Our ability to operationalize those tools in ways that help individuals become more proficient at their craft allows us to truly reimagine what success looks like for that individual and for the enterprise those individuals serve,” Jackson says.

3. KPIs for Real-World Business Objectives

Jackson’s diverse background provides insight into the connection between business objectives and individual objectives.

“Growing up in multiple lines of businesses, I learned not only the key performance indexes (KPIs) but also how business objectives truly ladder into individual objectives,” he said.

For example, many training organizations rely on “smile sheets” that ask the employee if they “liked” the training or found it valuable. But for a company to measure the effectiveness of its training efforts, it must actually measure how individuals who move through the training can deliver on the business’s KPIs.

“We need to ensure the metrics that we are leveraging as success indicators really ladder into what the business is measuring. That way, we’re not talking about arcane KPIs but precisely about what we are targeting, to measure, to improve, and elevate across the enterprises,” says Jackson.

I agree and see an opportunity for improving how sales training is conducted. If the training that’s being done for salespeople, and the measurement thereof, does not align with the way the sales management is going to actually assess the performance of the salespeople, then by definition, you’re setting up a problem. You have to care and get into the molecular level of detail in order to create a dialogue.

4. The Competitive Advantage of Resiliency

Adaptability is not necessarily the first quality associated with a global organization with over 240,000 employees. Yet Jackson says resilience is part of what drives his organization’s success.

“Incorporated within the DNA of our organization is being employee-centric, being customer-centric, and ensuring that we are adaptive and resilient with respect to how we show up. This focus not only gave us a competitive advantage ahead of this pandemic, it ensured that, even with this disruptive change in our global economy, we could still support our clients and our employees without disruption.”

For Jackson, that meant being more intentional in the curation and administration of different types of learning, which included incorporating digital modalities such as remote learning and video-based tools to improve employee development.

“As we think about resiliency, as we think about the teamwork, the partnership, the collaboration, what some may call soft skills—these are even more critical, even more of a premium as we try to stay connected, even while we are truly globally distributed,” concludes Jackson.

Learn More

Hear the complete interview on this episode of The Adapter’s Advantage. For more valuable advice on how to improve employee development, subscribe now: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | TuneIn

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