Lorelei is Zavvy's Content Marketing Manager. She is always on the hunt for the latest HR trends, fresh statistics, and academic and real-life best practices to spread the word about creating better employee experiences.
"At Adobe, we know we have the best and brightest talent in the world. As we think about how to deliver a world-class experience for our employees, we're focused on ways we can scale our talent development programs with the north star of making Adobe the best place for everyone to learn, grow their careers, and make an impact by doing their career-best work." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe.
Renowned for its innovative software and creative solutions, Adobe stands out for its approach to employee training and development.
"Adobe's 40-year track record of innovation, transformation, and continuous reinvention didn't happen by accident. It's a result of our unwavering focus on our employees, rooted in the belief that our people are our most important asset." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe.
Adobe looks for people with a drive to learn.
In an interview, Donna Morris, ex-chief HR officer, said that learning agility is one of the essential qualities they look for in new hires. She explains, "Learning agility is represented by someone who continues to learn, continues to challenge themselves in terms of new ideas and opportunities, really seeks to advance, whether it be around technology or business insight, and who's really curious. We want individuals who have strong business acumen and can really be drivers of change."
Employees also vouch for Adobe's strong learning culture. Scott Gruer, Senior Solutions Consultant, says, "One thing's clear — Adobe encourages a growth mindset. The most important thing is to be clear about your goals and work with your manager. Together, you can plan how to move forward, whether that involves developing soft skills or technical know-how or even if that's simply gaining exposure and experience in other parts of the business."
How does Adobe build this learning culture?
What training programs do they drive? Why do they work so well?
This case study provides a deep dive into Adobe's training strategies, offering a blueprint your organization can adapt and replicate to enhance your learning and development strategy.
Adobe values form the base of their learning philosophy. Each value reflects how they run their training programs and people development initiatives.
Their four values are:
1. Create the future: Adobe supports creativity and innovation by motivating employees to try new things. They have programs to encourage employees to explore their passions.
2. Own the outcome: Adobe employees own their learning journey. They can say where they see themselves down the line and choose training that helps them meet their goals.
3. Raise the bar: Adobe looks for employees who are hungry to learn. Employees get timely feedback as check-in from their managers. Accordingly, they can constantly elevate their learning journey.
4. Be genuine: At Adobe, employees are encouraged to interact with others and learn from each other. Not every learning happens on the monitor. There are initiatives like Employee networks to promote social learning.
Adobe offers two types of learning funds for employees.
1. Learning Fund for Professional Development: Employees can take any short-term learning programs (such as conferences, workshops, webinars, online learning, business-related books, language courses, certification fees, or professional memberships), and Adobe reimburses it with an upper limit of $1000 per year. The only prior requirement is that employees must discuss the programs with their manager before enrolling. It ensures the particular program aligns with their career goals and the company's objective.
2. Learning Fund for Education Reimbursement: This learning fund covers degree programs and select certifications. Employees can get tuition, course fees, or certification fees reimbursed up to $10,000 yearly. There is also a counseling service called College Coach to ensure employees have a smooth admission process. They can get free advice on the college application process and also get strategies for student loan repayment
"I could not be more grateful for Adobe's learning fund program! The program has been such a big part of my career success. I'm continuing to benefit from Adobe's generosity by learning and advancing my career skills, and I will stay on this path for years to come with Adobe's ongoing support!" Dennis Hwang, Adobe employee.
Adobe also has a mentoring program that pairs employees with experienced mentors who can provide guidance, support, and advice on career development.
How does Adobe run its mentorship programs?
"Adobe's mentorship and professional development programs have played a vital role in my career progression. The various manager forums and trainings offered a safe space to seek guidance and learn essential skills. My former manager provided valuable training and coaching, encouraging me to find a mentor within the organization. This opportunity allowed me to reflect on my career aspirations." Betsy Lewis, Senior Regional Manager, Customer Success Data & Insights at Adobe.
The Adobe Leader Experience is a quarterly "learn it when you need it" sequenced training that helps Adobe managers improve their people management skills.
This cornerstone program provides leaders with:
The sessions highlight leadership qualities identified by Adobe founders Charles Geschke and John Warnock as crucial for driving significant business impact and scaling effectively.
So, these resources have one clear goal: to empower participants to become the best people leader possible.
Each quarter of ALE is tied to a specific theme:
These themes are tightly integrated with Adobe's Check-in timeline (their brand new performance management system), ensuring that managers get to practice immediately all the learnings. This bridges the "Knowing-Doing Gap" between training and real-life application, improving knowledge retention and training effectiveness.
"From what I've seen, it's common in our industry to train managers at some given point in the year or when they join the company, and then they hope and pray that they're able to use that information later. But the managers don't have a place to practice, they don't have a place to apply their learnings. And so they store it away and then inevitably forget what they learned." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe, in a Forbes interview.
Over 80% of Adobe people managers are attending the quarterly sessions, which is a very high attendance rate.
Adobe has also taken initiatives to diversify leadership through its Women's Executive Shadow Program and The Leadership Circles Program.
Women's Executive Shadow Program allows female employees to connect with senior executives and shadow them at work.
In the Leadership Circles Program, chosen high-potential women leaders get access to 1:1 coaching to refine their leadership styles.
"We provide training and coaching to women in our organization to ensure they understand how to show up and speak up. 'Leadership Circles' is our 10-month global women's development program designed to build and nurture their own leadership skills. At the same time, the impact of having role models should not be underestimated. Seeing women at multiple levels in the management chain serves as a motivation for all young women and has a positive impact on the company's culture overall." Gloria Chen, CHRO at Adobe.
The initial sessions help women leaders find their strengths. After that, the group is divided into small cohorts where peers help each other. Each participant also gets an executive coach who helps them one-on-one.
"I'm very grateful to have participated in the program. It's a 10-month program to help develop female leaders at Adobe. I got to meet so many talented women from all over the world, who helped me align my goals so that I can be successful." Asako Kubo, Manager, Digital Media Corporate Sales at Adobe.
"Participating in the Leadership Circles program helped me define my personal leadership style and gain clarity on my purpose." Betsy Lewis, Senior Regional Manager, Customer Success Data & Insights at Adobe.
Adobe also supports social learning by building communities of like-minded people as employee networks. It has communities for women, Asians, Hispanics, people of color, differently-abled, veterans, and more. Community members meet online or offline, where they come together to discuss issues and professional development opportunities.
For instance, the Adobe women employee network hosted chats where senior leaders shared their personal journeys, discussed the spectrum of leadership styles, and shared advice about developing leadership skills.
"A turning point for me was when I took an Asian Leadership Program at Stanford. This program was recommended to me by one of the Asian Employee Network (AEN) members, and it really opened my eyes to the problems that many Asians face in the industry. Being part of the network has opened a lot of opportunities for me and has made me look inward and think more about my heritage and why I'm proud to be Asian." Fanny Armstrong, Senior Manager for Employee Experience Solutions.
Besides courses sponsored by professional funds, Adobe also makes third-party courses from top platforms like LinkedIn Learning, GetAbstract, Coursera, Harvard ManageMentor, and more available for employees.
"We enjoy free access to top-notch digital learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, getAbstract, O'Reilly, HMM Spark, and more. That's not all - we also have the privilege of utilizing our very own Adobe Digital University, which offers tailored training on specific products and a range of diverse learning paths." Oier Ruiz Trevino, Senior Consultant at Adobe.
This is not a training program but one of the top policies at Adobe that shapes employee's learning and development. Adobe encourages mobility that allows employees to look for other roles internally based on their interests.
Employees have access to a "data-driven Career Discovery tool that shows them where employees in similar roles moved within Adobe. As they explore new career paths, they can set up notifications, so they know in real-time when their ideal next role is posted." How Adobe continues to inspire great performance and support career growth.
Hasham Mumhammed, HR Business Partner- Employee Experience, says, "We have an industry-leading policy where you can make a move once you have spent 12 months in a current role." Employees can initiate conversations with the talent team about the move and during manager check-in calls. Accordingly, they can choose the right training programs that shape their career path.
Launched in June 2023, the Global Career Fest is the newest Adobe flagship development initiative.
"With Career Fest, our hope is to inspire employees to take a pause from their day-to-day work to invest in themselves and their careers and come together to celebrate the joy of working at Adobe." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe.
With this innovative employee development program, Adobe aims to empower its workforce with new skills, connections, and ideas.
The event takes place over two days when employees can engage in a variety of growth-focused activities:
"Take two days, get inspired, meet some new people, learn from your colleagues, and reinvigorate your relationship with your career." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe, in The Talent Development Think Tank podcast.
This program is a strategic initiative by Adobe to invest in its employees' career progression and overall job satisfaction, underlining the company's commitment to fostering a supportive and dynamic work culture.
20.000 employees attended the first global Career Fest.
"We are in an era right now where [...] in successful companies, we can go out and buy any technology to make our business more efficient; we're going to have the capital to do that. But what is going to give us the edge in the market is the hearts and imaginations of the people that we're inspiring. [...] [So talent development departments are vital because they] engage people and give them the edge, help upskill them and reskill them." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe, in The Talent Development Think Tank podcast.
Adobe has always kept employees the core focus of its policies and programs. It is reflected in their L&D initiatives. Employees get ample learning opportunities, reimbursement perks, transparent career paths, and options to switch roles.
"At Adobe, we have always recognized that people are our greatest asset. This is reflected in everything we do to create a world-class employee experience, from our industry-leading benefits and programs to various career development opportunities we offer to continually invest in our people. We recognize that enabling employees to move into new and different roles within Adobe is an effective way to invest in our employees, help them acquire new skills, and support their career development." says Brian Miller, Chief Talent, Diversity & Inclusion Officer.
Two of Adobe's core values are to 'Raise the bar' and 'Own the outcome.' Adobe continually looks for employees with a learning agility or a growth mindset.
Instead of enforcing training, Adobe wants employees to take the lead, decide what's right for them, and own their learning journey.
"[...]we need to keep up with how fast technology is changing. For some skills, [universities] don't teach them, because they are being developed as we speak. That's where learning agility comes in, and helping people to really learn rapidly on their own." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe, in The Talent Development Think Tank podcast.
Adobe's vision for diversity and inclusion, called "Adobe For All," advocates for equal treatment irrespective of personal background, gender, ethnicity, etc.
For instance, Adobe has designed mentorship programs to support women. They also built employee networks for different groups so that underrepresented groups could collaborate, learn, and feel heard.
A new study by The Workforce Institute at UKG reveals just how important managers are for their reports:
This group of people can have so much power over employee and business results, yet data shows that they are struggling.
Over 50% struggle with burnout, often triggered by the pandemic and all the uncertainty and overwhelm that followed it.
So, the ALD was built based on this knowledge, seeking to empower leaders to empower their people and move the needle on the most important elements that managers spend their time on, such as goal setting and giving and receiving feedback.
In his conversation with The Talent Development Think Tank podcast, Brandon Clark revealed that after just one quarter of ALE, Adobe's internal research concluded that feedback quality has tripled.
Adobe's performance management system, Check-in, has 3 core pillars:
For Adobe, growing careers for all is a core managerial competency:
"To ensure both remote and hybrid employees are on an equal playing field, leaders must be inclusive of all team members and understand individual strengths and development areas regardless of their location and encourage career growth." Gloria Chen, CHRO at Adobe, in an interview with The HR Digest.
➡️ Check how Adobe stopped traditional reviews and opted for frequent check-ins.
Adobe believes that less is more when it comes to L&D. Mino Thomas, Senior Director-Talent and Global Head-Talent Operations, says, "HR generally goes on to tick a lot of boxes, saying you know, I've got ten things that I can do. Let me do all ten. What we do mainly is choose those things that really matter to the employees, and hence, there is a higher degree of consumption, a higher degree of adoption, and a higher degree of impact."
Adobe doesn't try to develop all employee development methods. Every program at Adobe is carefully chosen based on how it will impact employee growth, and the company tracks the numbers to see whether it is actually helpful. Being selective and tracking numbers has helped Adobe curate programs with higher engagement.
There are no shoulds in Adobe's employee development plan. Empowering employees to own their learning journey worked in Adobe's favor. 37% of employees already want more control over training, and 50% want more relevant training.
At Adobe, employees find which training is relevant for them and willingly participate.
Adobe's L&D team doesn't just launch the program and takes a backseat. Instead, they provide the employees with as many supporting resources as possible in the form of templates and supporting documents. It enables employees to make the most out of the program.
"We're being very thoughtful about how to create journeys where we place employees in the center, rather than executing siloed programs from our different functional areas. Working this way helps our Employee Experience team create a more frictionless experience." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe, in a Forbes interview.
When designing their Leader Experience program, Adobe linked it to their Check-in conversations so that people leaders can use the learnings in a real-life context.
So, Adobe managers don't just learn. They immediately practice what they've learned, making the program extremely effective.
"The first set of sessions sparked stellar feedback from people leaders as they allowed them to immediately incorporate what they learned from Leader Experience as part of Check-in conversations, which helped increase our Check-in completion rate to 95 percent in Q1." Brandon Clark, Global Head of Talent Development at Adobe.
It is often the case that compensation, training, talent management, DEI hiring, and onboarding are HR functionals that usually act and think in silos. However, the employees need a seamless view of how things work in their company.
Adobe acknowledges that all these functions must work together to create a seamless, connected experience.
There is one culture, one Adobe, so all teams need to be on the same page.
Zavvy lets you run a people development process like Adobe. Here is a step-by-step breakdown.
You can define career paths, showing career progression in each department and the skills required for each role.
Employees get role clarity and a list of competencies to develop. They can choose the training programs that are relevant for them.
Link feedback and performance reviews to development so employees can take the insights from performance reviews and turn them into action items on their development plans.
Employees can create a development plan after discussing action items with their managers.
Having a plan in one place brings structure and helps managers oversee employees' plans at a glance. Employees can also apply for any external training and get the training budget approved.
You can easily replicate Adobe's growth conversations with Zavvy's 1:1 software. You can adapt elements from the Check-in guide for employees into a template that everyone in your company can use in their development conversations.
The best part about Zavvy's 1:1s is that they are fully integrated with the career frameworks, goals, feedback cycles, and growth plans.
Use the context panel for additional information and more impactful conversations.
Review the initial goals you set at the beginning of the cycle, review the feedback you shared with the employee, and check in on how they apply that feedback to grow and reach their targets.
Use Zavvy's recurring learning events to replicate Adobe's Career Fest.
It takes a few clicks to set up your session:
Plus, Zavvy admins can always change a recurring event by pausing, editing, then reactivating.
Adobe customized their Career Fest offering according to employee feedback. Learn what you're people are primarily interested in with Zavvy surveys.
Create your questionnaire, set up anonymity settings and your participant group, and you're good to go.
Adobe offers their people a wide variety of learning resources: on-demand sessions and a curated hub of people manager resources.
You can create custom courses that support your employees' requirements. Customize learning journeys with videos, graphics, quizzes, surveys, and group tasks.
And if you have already created learning content in the past, you have not lost your work! Bring all your resources to Zavvy with SCORM.
You can also create training content/courses and quizzes using Zavvy AI.
Once your learning library is active, employees can add courses to their development plan as per their choice.
One core value of Adobe's learning philosophy is empowering employees to own their learning journey and promoting voluntary participation.
You can enable self-enrollment in training so employees can shop around for courses that match their growth items.
Since employees stay in the loop with what's required to reach the next step of their careers, they can focus their growth efforts on matching those requirements.
We have helped Freeletics to organize leadership roundtables. It had a combination of short weekly nudges, courses, and group sessions to discuss leadership challenges.
Mentorship is a vital part of Adobe's L&D initiative. You can send surveys to employees to find what they expect from their mentor and accordingly pair them with the right mentor.
You can also set up recurring check-ins between mentors and mentees. Zavvy sends all involved automated reminders.
You get a centralized LMS to track all training participation in one place.
📅 Try Zavvy today to create a 360-degree growth program for your employees. Book a demo to see it in action.