Treating the Symptoms: A Psychological Approach to Learning


How do you ensure your organization derives the most value out of its largest resource, your employees? Tech Data, the global IT distribution company with more than 14,000 employees, needed to capitalize on its learning efforts in a more effective way to provide value to its clients. When the resources outweighed the learning outcomes, Tech Data brought on a new leader, Akil Walton, Vice President Global Talent Management, to put a future-proofed solution in place.

Prior to bringing on Akil Walton, Tech Data’s learning strategy varied by country. The strategy didn’t utilize the full benefit of the efforts happening globally, despite a large spend in resources. The inconsistency translated into a lackluster employee experience with little on-demand learning options, and the need to standardize was clear.

In a new role, Akil Walton was time and budget strapped to put a new solution in place. He took a human–centered approach to learning and ensured that the strategy was directly tied to improving business outcomes.

The first step was to conduct interviews across the business to understand the current pain points and needs from both the business and employee standpoint. In this way, Tech Data had a foundation to build a solution from.

To improve the employee experience and ensure employees had the knowledge needed for their client relationships, Tech Data put multiple learning programs in place. These programs were supported through in-person and digital trainings. Based on psychology, the programs helped teams to understand not only new skills and knowledge but also how their behaviors and those of their teammates affected how they collaborate.

“Everything we sell is based on our knowledge. In order to be a leader, the ability to transfer the knowledge of our people into skills and an outcome to the customer is how we create value every day.”

Akil Walton

Vice President, Global Talent Management,
Tech Data.

Built into the strategy was a focus on standardization. Each office offered the same programs and the same processes to facilitate those programs, supported by the global strategy. Programs were provided in over 50 countries, different languages, and supported by both on-demand and live learning opportunities. Put in place, the standardization found many efficiencies for the HR team.

Finally, Tech Data took an outcomes-based approach to learning, capturing which programs directly improve the goals of the business. In controlling for other variables, Tech Data’s statistical approach to measurement helped prioritize learning initiatives and capture what truly moved the needle for employee satisfaction and business goals.

Put in place, the new strategy saw more productivity across its offices, a linear relationship between leadership development and business performance, and more learning accessibility for employees. Tech Data prescribed a cure for organizational learning.