American Standard: Tracking the Bottom-Line Impact

American Standard may be best known for its white porcelain toilets, but the Piscataway, N.J.-based corporation encompasses far more. In fact, plumbing products account for barely a quarter of the annual revenues of American Standard Cos., an organization

American Standard was under pressure to produce greater profits at a lower cost. To meet profit goals, the company decided to help its people find more creative and efficient ways of producing and marketing its products. American partnered with Dallas-based KnowledgePool to streamline and align key HR processes.

In order to secure alignment across business units and multiple locations, KnowledgePool created a customized, Web-based Talent Management System (TMS) that incorporates all of the tools needed for employees and managers to assess capabilities, identify learning opportunities and link incentives and performance to corporate goals.

A key component of pre- and post-program implementation assessment is the scorecard, a tool that measures the direct impact of workforce development on fiscal performance. The scorecard provides measurement and benchmark data to help the organization fine-tune workforce dynamics, development and deployment. Through the TMS and the scorecard, American had a unified view of its workforce and capabilities and the tools it needed to direct development toward desired business results.

The scorecard is used in a series of phases:

  • Phase One: The scorecard creates a baseline measurement. An analysis is conducted of the company’s human capital capabilities and their impact on business results. Results are benchmarked against other organizations. Recommendations for improvement are made.
  • Phase Two: The TMS is used to implement the technology solutions, learning interventions and new processes recommended in Phase One.
  • Phase Three: The scorecard is re-implemented to document changes in performance measures and human capital infrastructure, and additional recommendations are documented.

The process of program implementation and ROI measurement included individual performance, individual impact and contribution to business goals and workforce dynamics and culture.

One of the first initiatives was to launch the Human Resource Planning (HRP) module of the system so that mid-year reviews could be conducted with Web-based support. These reviews require managers to assess the performance and potential of their direct reports and record their assessments for capture in the application. The information enables managers to generate reports for succession planning across the organization.

The second module to be implemented was in support of the performance management process. The primary value of this module is the link it creates between evaluation of individual performance and the overall strategic goals of the organization.

The third module of the American Standard Development Center to be designed and implemented supported the Personal Development Planning (PDP) process. This module is most directly related to individual development initiatives and supports the individual employees in being self-directed in improving their other abilities. The two primary components of the PDP process are skills and competency assessment and the creation of a development plan based on this assessment. Each of the learning resources is mapped to the specific competencies identified as important to success at American Standard.

As part of the PDP process, KnowledgePool worked closely with Larry Costello, senior vice president for human resources at American, to customize a competency framework and integrate the framework with newly articulated company values. By influencing personal development through the use of this framework, the company is able to develop a culture that truly expresses its values. Through this initiative, American was able to build a culture of development that gave the company’s investment in technology a real return.

American was able to establish a solid understanding of strengths and weaknesses before training. Most important, American was able to develop a plan of action and identify measurable results—not only in workforce performance, but also in quantifiable results such as increased sales. U.S. sales for American Standard’s plumbing products grew by 5 percent last year, with record-breaking faucet sales posted.

Over the past 20 years, Chani Pangali, Ph.D., has led employee development, growth and retention initiatives for a number of organizations. As senior vice president for KnowledgePool, Pangali contributes to the vision and direction of the organization and drives business growth in key areas. For more information, e-mail Chani at

July 2003 Table of Contents