Nurturing High Performance: A Q&A with Vulcan's Tim Mulligan

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Performance Management

Nurturing High Performance: A Q&A with Vulcan\'s Tim Mulligan

You may or may not have heard of Vulcan Inc., but you're definitely familiar with at least some of what they do. Seattle Seahawks? Portland Trail Blazers? The Museum of Pop Culture? The Allen Institute for Brain Science? They are all areas of practice for the Seattle-based company started by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and part of Vulcan's network of organizations and initiatives that include real estate, philanthropy, entertainment, science and technology, to name a few!


Such an organization requires a well-driven people strategy - one that involves finding and developing people for a wide variety of disciplines, projects and problems. We asked Vulcan CHRO Tim Mulligan to share a bit about the company's talent development strategy and programs, and how they align to and support Vulcan's culture and business approach.

Here's what Tim had to say:

1. You have a saying at Vulcan: "Only at Vulcan." What makes Vulcan unique - what do you do different/better than anyone else?

At Vulcan, we take great ideas -- typically from our founder, the late Paul Allen - and we develop these ideas to tackle some of the world's toughest problems, or to create inspirational experiences for the public. We have projects in such diverse areas as restoring ocean health, preserving wildlife and tackling pandemics. We lead technology breakthroughs; we're involved with sports teams, real estate development, art, music and film. Every day for a Vulcan employee can be one filled with unique opportunities and challenges - that is why we often say #onlyatvulcan. 

I want our HR team to apply that kind of innovative thinking so that Vulcan is a leader in creating "employer of choice" best practices - not just borrowing best practices from others. What this means is that we need to deliver on our hashtag promise. Every time we roll out a new program or a policy or an employee engagement project, it has to be high-level, forward-thinking, cutting-edge and different from what other organizations are doing.

2. What is your vision for talent development at Vulcan? How does Saba TalentSpace support that vision? 

The implementation of Saba TalentSpace at Vulcan is strategic to a delivering best-in-class talent development experience to our people. For example, our employees asked for transparency in managing their performance and careers. The tools we had in the past weren't transparent. Performance reviews were more subjective than objective. It wasn't a great experience, and it wasn't Vulcan.

With TalentSpace, we've launched a continuous performance management program that is completely transparent to employees - they know the process and their role in it. They can follow - and contribute to - the history of the learning and development, recognition, coaching and feedback they receive.

How does the organization behind the Seattle Seahawks, the Allen Institute and the Museum of Pop Culture nurture high performance and build culture? A Q&A w/ @mulligna
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And TalentSpace has helped us introduce a culture of constant feedback. We still do an annual review, we do a mid-year review, but we're also mandating that managers hold regular 1:1 check-in meetings with their employees so there's ongoing dialogue and feedback - and zero surprises when it comes to formal review time or career progression conversations.

Another thing we really value about TalentSpace is how it supports goal alignment at Vulcan - from high-level business goals, through to managers, and then down to line-level employees. Everyone knows their personal piece of the overall success of our organization. We also love that TalentSpace comes with the DDI suite of leadership courses that we can tie into our feedback meetings and development plans. We can, at the click of the keyboard, enroll people in classes, and that curriculum of classes then ties into performance discussions and their formal reviews. It all fits together seamlessly. We now have a great mix of learning and development and performance all in one program!

3. How have the ongoing talent development practices you've implemented at Vulcan been received? 

We rolled out Saba TalentSpace and our new talent development program in the fall of 2017, and the response has been great. Key to this success is the transparency we're offering. Employees know where they stand and how the work they do impacts Vulcan's success. And they love that TalentSpace is easy to use, it's easy to track their goals and performance.

In fact, we just completed a survey to see what employee had to say about using TalentSpace and the feedback is positive. Overall engagement level is high, as is employee satisfaction. Employees know their talent development program and experience isn't some off-the-shelf program. It's created just for them, and in alignment with the Vulcan culture.

Want to learn more about how Vulcan nurtures high performance?

You can learn more from Tim about nurturing high performance and building a great work culture this Thursday, November 15 for a webinar. You'll learn more about Vulcan's talent development strategy and hear from Saba's own Kristy Holmes on how talent management technology can support  the employee experience and drive increased performance. 

Register for Nurturing High Performance: The Vulcan Experience today!

Nurturing High Performance: The Vulcan Experience

Join Tim Mulligan for a deep dive into what it takes to nurture high performers and shift culture.


Register Now
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Nurturing High Performance: The Vulcan Experience

Join Tim Mulligan for a deep dive into what it takes to nurture high performers and shift culture.


Register Now


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