A few years back, we have been engaged in a regional project to drive manufacturing excellence in 15 factories with a special focus on energy and how to create a better place for future generation. While this was a technical project with clear value targets, we also understood that this initiative will only be successful when we engage with the people, make them excited about the vision, and create opportunities to learn and progress.
Communicating was not enough - we knew that. Because we wanted to enable and facilitate the change from within, we established a group of change ambassadors who were working closely with the frontline people. We identified a cohort of 25 engineers who were driving the initiative in their respective sites. They became project ambassadors for one year in a full-time ambassador position.
How could we motivate them to join this role? How could we overcome their concerns that this assignment was hindering their career development?
We designed this ambassador program with two clear and distinct objectives in mind. First, we know that the group of ambassadors were vital to achieve the business objectives of the initiative. They were responsible in the identification of energy saving potential in their sites; and then responsible to execute this potential. With these goals we were able to save costs, reduce the environmental impact and increase the reputation of the business.
The second objective of the program was about developing future leaders. The engineers were identified talents and following a development path to potentially become plant managers. One important set of skill they had to learn for their future were leadership and people capabilities. As change facilitators they had tons of opportunities to learn, apply and experiment with different tools, skills and behaviours to engage with the frontline people and the management. As part of the program, we continuously evaluated them based on a change leadership skill framework.
In essence, while working together with human resources, the ambassador program was part of the talent management activities. And it was a huge success! All engineers improved their leadership skill scores while part of the program. And, all engineers joined back their career paths in higher positions than before. A fantastic achievement!
This is how we design our leadership programs at Hive17 Consulting. We always keep this dual objectives in mind: improving the business results and(!) improving the leadership qualities. We believe that in this way we can establish lasting success and drive the change from within.
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Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.