HR Magazine, January 2005 - Blind Investment


HR Magazine, January 2005

January 2005

Vol. 50, No. 1

Blind Investment

T. Rowe Price

By Robert J. Grossman

Feature Article: Blind Investment

January 2005 HR Magazine

T. Rowe Prices strong stock market performance over the past 10 years seems to bear out the view of Laurie Bassi, chair of Bassi Investments Inc. in Washington, D.C., about the value of investing in training and development. Melody Jones, director of HR at the 4,100-employee investment management company, headquartered in Baltimore, oversees programs that are funded at the best-in-class level in the benchmarks from PricewaterhouseCoopers/Saratoga.

Expenditures for tuition reimbursement are especially noteworthy: The amount the company spends on tuition reimbursement is three times the amount designated by the American Society for Training & Development as its best-in-class figure.

We seem to have hit on a formula for stock performance that has a lot to do with the care and feeding of people, says Jones, who reports directly to the chairman and president, George Roche. We want talented people, but they have to buy into our approach, which is grounded in integrity and the belief that collaboration yields the best decisions. The selection process is arduous, but when they sign on, they stay.

People who are underperforming receive training, coaching or a chance at another job. If they dont make it, they need to be nudged out, Jones adds. But we dont do it without giving them some chances before we conclude they cant do a good job. Nonperforming analysts are a rarity because our initial screening is so careful.

In a recent diversity survey, 92 percent of workers at T. Rowe Price said the companys efforts to sustain an environment free from fear, intimidation and harassment, and to treat workers equally regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion or age, exceeded their expectations. Thats far ahead of the benchmark average for all industries, which is 83 percent.

Notably, in an industry where litigation and whistle-blowing is never far away, T. Rowe Price has found a better way. Its formal grievance process allows people to grieve up through the line or to go to HR directly. The incidence of employees feeling the need to engage outside support is negligible, Jones says.

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