Sarah Hunt sat down with STMicroelectronics Learning and Development Manager Marcus King to learn more about how they’re integrating mindfulness and emotional intelligence into their organization.
Can you describe the work you do at STMicroelectronics (ST) and the current learning and development training you are developing for individual contributors?
ST is a global semiconductor company offering one of the industry’s broadest product portfolios. In the Americas region we’ve designed a nonlinear learning and development program and Search Inside Yourself (SIY) is the foundation for this program. One of my major goals is to have a common vocabulary surrounding all areas involved with emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and leadership. This program will give our employees the ability to speak the same language.
Can you share why you’ve identified emotional intelligence as a priority at ST?
My job is to help people develop not only their business skills but also their social and presentation abilities. Emotional intelligence has become huge in learning fields and I was looking for trainings that were starting to go further. Our goal at ST is finding trainings that everyone can connect to regardless of role and also move the business needle in sales and profits. Additionally, we’re looking at improvements in healthcare expenditures and helping our people find happiness in being at work.
What are some of the challenges you’re facing at ST and how are mindfulness programs helping meet those specific challenges?
A common theme ST sales division employees mention is needing more time in the day. A majority of the sales team travel and not only are they asked to reach quotas and keep up with customer orders but also they need time to respond to emails. Whether it's stress from business, an increase in email output, or demanding conversations, it all leads to a need to improve relationship communication and self-awareness skills. This is where neuroscience, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness come into play. Managing these challenges requires the sales teams to have the self-awareness to notice when to take a break and also to figure out how to manage time.
In the programs you’ve been running, you've focused on inviting individual contributors (ICs) specifically. What’s your strategic reason for doing that?
We’ve heard from many of our ICs that we have programs for our managers and executives, but they aren’t receiving a great amount of development. Given they represent 60 to 65 percent of our region’s staffing, we felt this gap was important to address. I discovered that skills like emotional intelligence, relationship building, and communication were of strong interest to our ICs. That’s why the SIY program worked best because it applied to everyone regardless of department, role and tenure. Employees wanted training that would help them develop and grow not only in their business skills, but their social abilities, their presentation competency, and the way they connect with others in a team capacity.
What have been your impressions of Search Inside Yourself both as a participant and as a Learning & Development professional?
I took the 2-Day Search Inside Yourself public program and I thought it would be a great fit for the company. The program is designed in a way whereby anyone can walk away afterwards with great, actionable steps. I wanted to make the in-house SIY training as diverse as possible, so we invited a mix of individuals who have been working for the company for 20 to 35 years as well as people in their first year. The biggest surprise was how quickly people engaged in the training by the end of day one. They were excited about having the opportunity to connect together and explore these various topics.
Could you share some of the impacts of the SIY program beyond the training itself.
Once the 2-day in-person SIY program is over, the learning continues for 28 days via online learning modules. In addition, after the training individuals received an accountability buddy to connect with over that period. I heard participants express great excitement about checking-in with their buddy, and how they’re sticking with those conversations, which was above what I had expected. The connection piece has been very strong for ST. Aside from people being more satisfied, I believe these implementations can change business to consumer relationship behavior and actual business fiscal impact.
Finally, are there any strategies for success you would share with someone who wants to build out a similar learning and development program?
Firstly I conduct many needs assessments and open up feedback sessions. We also match our survey results with qualitative data and idea trends, thus discovering our top business and regional goals. From here, we figure out how to design a program and find the right vendors that will help us reach our business goals. Then we start the actual training — business goals are our number one priority and number two is to build excitement about the training. I would say start working with a partner like SIYLI [now SIY Global for corporate trainings] when you create your program. It’s beneficial to also simultaneously release information so you can gauge interest and initial reactions among potential participants. Also, I cannot underscore enough how important it is for someone designing a program like this to attend the SIY public 2-day program. I told my people that I don’t like giving them learning opportunities if I haven’t thoroughly vetted these opportunities myself.