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Company: Bank of America

Category: Achievement in Coaching and Mentoring

Nomination Title: Academy Managers



The Academy at Bank of America was created in 2016 as the onboarding, training, and development organization that prepares over 80,000 employees in client facing roles to successfully and confidently serve the needs of clients. In 2015, when Bank of America turned its strategy to deepening current client relationships, it took a close look at how it could better serve its clients. At that time, inconsistent learning experiences and inefficiently aligned resources were leading to less-than-optimal employee experiences and attrition was higher than acceptable.

To better serve clients, employees needed a better development experience from day one and the potential to build a career at Bank of America. Tenured employees are more skilled at uncovering clients’ needs and the Academy Manager was created to provide a consistent, exceptional training experience and a support system that would retain talent and reduce attrition.

The Academy Manager is a centralized expert who coaches, mentors and supports Academy participants throughout their program experience. Because of the coaching nature of the Academy Manager role, it directly influences retaining talented employees and supporting career growth. The Consumer Bank finished 2019 with its lowest-ever turnover and nearly 11,000 career advancements were recognized in Academy-supported roles.

By introducing the Academy Manager role, employees in Academy programs have a resource to guide them throughout the process and help them complete the program successfully. The multi-faceted Academy Manager is a mentor and coach, as well as a liaison to the business, ensuring increased speed-to-proficiency and greater employee satisfaction with their training.
The Academy Manager’s reach is impressive: more than 205 Academy Managers across seven Academies dedicated a cumulative seven million hours of support to the 45,000 Academy program participants. This impact validates why the role must consistently operate and function across all Academies.

Teammate Voices, our internal feedback survey that launched in late 2019, is a critical tool to support the Academy Manager and provides continuous improvement opportunities. Teammate Voices is sent during and post-programs and its instant feedback allows Academy Managers to make adjustments mid-program that impact the current cohort’s experience, as well as the program curricula for future cohorts.

The Teammate Voices surveys also help The Academy improve the quality of its programs. Key questions, including an employee’s likelihood to recommend Bank of America as an employer given their experience and the level of preparedness after completing the program,show The Academy’s impact on the entire organization.

The Academy is focused on the company’s strategy of improving the employee experience and retaining talent, and The Academy Manager — as a full-time coach, advisor and sounding board — supports both of these priorities. Undoubtedly, engaged employees will build careers at Bank of America and greater tenure correlates to greater success when providing for clients’ financial needs.

The Academy Manager builds strong relationships with new employees and provides a nurturing experience. By having a dedicated point of contact from before day one and through the onboarding training experience, it provides a level of assurance that Bank of America supports and cares for its employees. Going a step further, the Academy Manager is a subject matter expert and has often been in the role they are now coaching. Their firsthand expertise and institutional knowledge cannot be duplicated; it gives a new-to-role employee confidence that they are supported by someone who has been in their position.

In 2018, a third-party research firm identified trends among best-in-class training and development organizations. The research found that coaching positively impacts behaviors and aids in mastery and retention; however, most companies allocate only 20% of an employee’s time to receive coaching. Conversely, the Academy Manager is a full-time, dedicated coach 100% of the participant’s time in an Academy program. The Academy has proven far-ahead in other areas, too: engagement among new hires and securing experienced leaders to conduct training (Academy Managers are subject matter experts).