Technology and business-process-as-a-service provider SE2, LLC, makes it a point to listen to its employees, particularly via the company’s annual Employee Survey. In 2018, the survey identified a need to improve the relationship between associates and their managers. With more than 60 percent of SE2’s front-line manager base being promoted from within, associates sometimes were being promoted into manager roles with no formal people manager training or experience. After months of analysis, L&D proposed the “Drive to Excellence” program, which focuses on three key managerial roles:
1. IGNITION: New front-line managers or front-line managers who had not had people management training opportunities
2. ACCELERATE: Mid-level to senior managers who have individual areas they need to strengthen
3. VELOCITY: High-potential managers who are in a position to move to an enteprise-level leadership role
The IGNITION program for front-line managers became the benchmark for all front-line managers. This program eventually would impact all SE2 employees.
The IGNITION program is run over a period of six months and is designed to create a foundation of “Managing the SE2 Way.” It comprises three parts:
PART I: Prework and Expectation Setting. When learners are registered in the program, they are assigned a number of “thought” exercises to help them start thinking about what they want to get out of the program. In addition, engagement meetings are set up between the lead instructor, the learner’s manager, and the learner. The instructor and learner’s manager meet to review the current Manager Competency model and identify areas of development opportunity for the learner. In addition, the learner’s manager is informed of what is expected of him or her (including regular one-on-ones with L&D guidance, regular behavioral feedback on the learner shared with L&D, and coordination with the learner’s coach). Then the learner’s manager signs a Learning Contract, outlining the expectation of both the learner and the learner’s manager. Next, an engagement meeting happens between the learner, learner’s manager, and lead instructor. Here, expectations are set for all involved, and the learner signs a Learning Contract. Next, coaches are identified (typically from SE2’s senior leadership core), trained, and assigned learners they will be coaching.
PART II: Four Days of In-Person Classroom. The program kicks off with a “Discussion with Executive Leadership.” SE2’s C-suite leaders recorded a video discussing what it means to them to manage the SE2 way, advice they have for front-line managers, and stories of managers who have impacted their careers. Then the program moves into some of the tactical requirements of managing at SE2 (from position requests, recruiting, and onboarding to termination and resignation). Each section is discussion driven, with competitions and gamifcation throughout the delivery.
After the tactical portion, the program progresses to the cultural section, which aims to foster a “change of mindset.”
Day 3 moves into a focus on how to unleash a learner’s team’s potential through coaching. This includes scenario-driven practice of an adopted coaching methodology, as well as a feedback framework. Learners then practice these tools.
Day 4 looks at the essential leadership skills necessary to lead a team. Learners work on one-on-one engagements, how to lead their team through change, and finish with a focus on how to manage their own time and energy.
PART III: Coaching. Coaches are brought in and assigned to their learners. SE2 makes a point of having a cross-functional dynamic between coach and learner. The coach is required to meet with the learner one hour a month for the next six months. Coaches are provided training, a checklist, and an evaluation kit, which is submitted back to L&D, as well as to the learner’s manager.
SE2 also is planning a pilot in which it will introduce a virtual reality component into the classroom and coaching platform.
Based on manager feedback, an average of 20 percent improvement in manager engagement with their direct reports has been noted. Coaches have cited a significant increase (45 percent) in managerial acumen exhibited by students coming out of IGNITION. Other results include:
- 50 percent of attendees have demonstrated a 20 to 30 percent improvement in establishing and conducting regular one-on-ones with their direct reports.
- 66 percent have shown a 20-plus percent improvement in setting up their teams for success.
- 33 percent have demonstrated a 30 percent improvement in their change management capabilities.