This case study highlights how one company tackled its leadership challenges head on.
Periodically, we like to offer success stories from HR pros from across the U.S.
This account comes courtesy of Jeff Bushardt, senior VP of HR at Comporium Communications, Inc., in Charlotte, NC and Jathan Janove, director of Employee Engagement Solutions and Portland Managing Shareholder at Ogletree Deakins.
Based on the results from a worker survey in 2011, it was clear we had some leadership challenges.
Employees weren’t confident in management’s ability to communicate a sense of direction and accountability to staff.
It turned out some of our people in leadership positions had never received formal leadership training or been part of a leadership development program.
Our leadership challenges led to problems retaining talent and employee relations based issues.
We knew we had to do something – but we also knew we needed buy-in from the people who mattered most.
Buy-in from upstairs
So first we focused on getting buy-in from senior executives.
That meant extensive discussions about needs, objectives and what approaches to leadership training would work best.
We tried to be inclusive and to promote collaboration so that our execs would develop a sense of ownership of the program.
Then we considered the level of leadership training needed.
We felt it should be practical instead of theoretical and reflect a “down-in-the-trenches” focus on tools and practices that could be implemented regularly.
Now we had the ideas we needed. We just had to figure out how to implement them properly.
How we made a difference
Before the leadership training sessions even began, we started building momentum by communicating info about what was coming and asking questions designed to get people thinking before the first session.
Then, when it came time to plan what each session should include, we grew concerned about giving people too much information too fast.
To combat that “drinking out of the fire hose” effect, we focused on specific tools and skills we felt could be immediately implemented.
We also spread our training sessions and content out over time.
Another important part of the sessions: a “train-the-trainer” component that turned students into teachers.
When our execs and managers share what they’ve actually done with training concepts or techniques, the buy-in from other managers is enormous.
3 major changes
Yes, the training has created a lot of work for HR, but it’s all paid off.
One, our retention issues have significantly diminished.
Two, we’ve seen major improvements in how managers handle employee issues, and cooperation between HR and leaders has increased substantially.
Third, we received feedback from staff and employees in general that things have improved and that they feel better about our leadership.
And an added bonus: We spend less time putting out fires and more time on people development, retention and constructive problem-solving.