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Client Advisory Boards Enhance FCCS Program Development

Amidst the array of disruptions that 2020 has delivered, FCCS joined many of our clients in quickly pivoting our service delivery model to support clients throughout the forced remote work environment.

For FCCS, this pivot was smoothed by having already undertaken a deep assessment of our learning and development programs to identify opportunities to reinvigorate both the content and the delivery. A cornerstone of this initiative has been the establishment of two client advisory boards, one representing the breadth of Farm Credit, the other representing ag cooperatives, that do exactly what the name implies: advise FCCS on their organizations’ learning and development needs so our experts can identify and fill any content or delivery gaps, and retire any outdated programs and launch new programs.

“The client advisory boards put the voice of our clients at the center of our program creation so we can develop impactful, relevant and supportive resources to help individuals improve and organizations accelerate their growth,” says Lisa Cavanaugh, FCCS Vice President of Leadership Development Experiences.

The first phase of work for the Farm Credit Client Advisory Board, which had its initial meeting in June, has been to identify specific competencies needed by the different levels of leader, from individual contributor to first time supervisor to functional leader to senior manager or executive. The Board considered 36 standard competencies and their importance to each leader level. Three key competencies were identified as critical for all levels: courage, resiliency and self-development. Others varied, such as customer service being deemed more critical for individual contributors but is still important for more senior leaders. With this competency matrix in hand, the FCCS team assessed the existing portfolio of learning and development programs to identify gaps and outdated content.

“The most effective training programs have a backbone of competencies so the learner knows what skills they’ll develop and why they’re important,” says Michele Padilla, Director and Senior Consultant in FCCS’s Learning and Consulting Services practice area. “When we looked at the competencies for different leader levels, our existing programs met many of the competency needs, but we found some major gaps that will absolutely improve our learning and development programs when we’ve filled them.”

FCCS is now revising and developing new content, which the Farm Credit Client Advisory Board will review, along with a discussion of logistics such as session length and delivery approach between live or recorded, in person or remote. The outcome will be a suite of programs, sessions and resources that’s built around a core set of needs identified by, and vetted by, Farm Credit clients.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Cooperative Client Advisory Board has applied the same framework to the cooperative realm, starting with assessing competencies by leader level. FCCS will then review current offerings through the ag co-op competency lens and modify existing programs or create new ones to meet the identified needs.

“Agricultural cooperatives recognize the importance of leadership development, and the representatives on our Client Advisory Board – whether a CEO or HR director – are enthusiastic about helping drive programming that will provide exactly what they need to grow their businesses on behalf of their members,” says Bill Wilson, Vice President of Agribusiness Consulting with FCCS. “They’re helping make our programs more valuable by basing them around the core focus of their needs.”

Both Client Advisory Boards meet monthly, with their initial term of service lasting through the preliminary revamping of FCCS’s learning and development curriculum. Given the strategic importance of having an unwavering customer focus, the Boards’ input will then be solicited on an ongoing, ad hoc basis.

“We’ve been gratified by our clients’ willingness to serve on these advisory boards and help us redesign our programming to better meet their needs, and we’ll continue to seek their input so we remain relevant in helping them continue to thrive,” says Lisa.

Learn more about FCCS’s learning and development offerings at our website or by contacting Michele Padilla at 720.939.7182.

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