In 2010, the turnover rate for front-line managers and supervisors at information and asset management company Iron Mountain was 40 percent, costing the company millions of dollars in recruitment, onboarding, lost company knowledge, expertise, and potential leaders. Losing mid-level leaders at such a rate drained the succession pipeline and stifled innovation at the ground level. These realities signaled a deeper problem—Iron Mountain lacked an organizational culture and growth strategy to value employees, develop and retain leaders, and inspire innovation.
Iron Mountain’s Southern California territory tackled this challenge head on in 2010 by creating CLIMB (Creating Leaders and Inspiring Management Behavior) to help local employees meet their career goals while building the talent pipeline. Inspired, the Pacific Northwest territory piloted a similar version of CLIMB. By 2012, CLIMB was a Western Area program graduating 30 participants. Having proven itself a best practice for employee engagement and talent development, the program won executive support and launched across North America in 2013. In 2016, CLIMB extended its reach beyond operations leadership and the boundaries of North America to include corporate and Western European employees.
Today, CLIMB is a nine-month program designed to prepare high-potential mid-level employees to be successful leaders at Iron Mountain. Each CLIMB participant:
- Receives a customized leadership development plan
- Attends virtual training on key areas of leadership development
- Completes courses from Harvard’s online business curriculum
- Experiences personalized coaching
Alongside individual professional development and coaching, the CLIMB program drives innovation through hands-on experiential learning by engaging participants in small group projects designed to address business-wide challenges and improve operations.
Since 2010, the turnover rate for front-line leaders dropped to 15 percent, which saves Iron Mountain more than $ 1 million each year. Of the 230 CLIMB graduates, 26 percent have been promoted to mid- or senior-level positions, plus Iron Mountain has rebuilt its succession pipeline.
In addition CLIMB’s impact on corporate-wide innovation includes a framework for comprehensive, coach-led onboarding with newly hired and newly promoted front-line leaders. A 2014 cohort analyzed the issues and designed a strategy in cooperation with the Operations Learning team to leverage its award-winning front-line Sentinel program. Implemented in 2015, the Sentinel Management Training Program has a 79 percent retention rate, one-to-one peer coaching, and 100 percent completion of core curriculum.