Turning managers into change makers – Case: Kesko23.01.2023
When Kesko updated its strategy, it launched a new training programme for managers, who are to implement the strategy into practice.
- The supervisors feel that they have been provided with practical tools and methods for everyday matters such as change management, taking care of challenging situations, and giving feedback
- The peer-to-peer discussions with colleagues were considered particularly valuable
- The cross-industry collaboration has provided supervisors with a more comprehensive overview of the operations
Even in large companies, strategies are sometimes created by a small group of executives. When implementing strategies into practice, however, large group of line managers always play a key role. That is why Kesko also modernized their management training programme after their latest strategy update.
“We needed to change leadership so that daily management better supported the new operational model”, says Katja Lee from Kesko.
As the change in strategy encompasses the entire group, the new training programme applies to all Kesko managers. Previous programmes had to be applied to, but now the training is an integral part of each manager’s development path.
In practice, there are two management training programmes: one for relatively new managers in the group and one for those with more experience. Over a period of two years, 250 Kesko managers have already participated in the updated programmes.
“We considered it important that the trainers at Verona Consulting actively provided us with constant development suggestions based on the participant feedback”,Hanna Laavainen, Kesko
Good customer experience as the goal
Quality and customer orientation lie at the heart of Kesko’s new strategy. In fact, one of the objectives of the K-Way training programme is the improvement of the employee and customer experience.
What this means in practice is that all the ‘invisible’ background work must serve the customer’s interest. Due to ever-increasing competition, every one must react to customer needs quickly. ‘When necessary, decisions must be made as close to the customer as possible. Not all decisions can be submitted to the top management for approval, as slowness weakens customer experience’, says Lee.
That is why the other key objective of the training programme is to activate managers to take more initiative and responsibility. This, on the other hand, requires that the supervisors have clear operating principles and that they are trusted. The personnel can only take responsibility if management provides them with some. ‘This is not just about leadership, but also about a culture of trust, openness, and taking responsibility that applies to the whole company’, says Hanna Laavainen from Kesko.
What the new strategy means for the leadership work is that a manager should act more as a coach than an oracle. Customer-oriented agility is possible if everybody realizes the power of their team. All employees are competent, not just the managers.
Issues are brought up
The written feedback from Kesko managers about the new training programme is downright enthusiastic. At least on the basis of the feedback, they have been provided with the best and most comprehensive management training of their careers. Many praise the change management skills, techniques, and tools acquired, that are needed in everyday work.
The managers felt that they needed new operational methods for, e.g., change management, dealing with challenging situations, and providing feedback. Issues such as underachievement have, of course, been addressed in the company before, but constructive discussion has been sporadic and the effects of the discussions have not really been followed up on. Now the managers have a documentation tool, which supports the creation of a development plan and assists with the documentation of objectives. At this point it is, however, important that the employees take part in setting objectives for themselves. ‘According to the feedback, methods like this, that are required in everyday situations are very important to the managers, says Laavainen.
In the new supervisor training, collaboration played a central role. Each group carried out a strategic project, during which cross-industry development was contemplated. In this respect, the training differed from the everyday life of many managers, as most of them usually concentrate on issues in their own field.
Crossing industry borders was important, as looking at the big picture may allow unexpected insights. In the quick-paced business world, people tend to adopt a silo mentality. The silo walls may prevent them from seeing the big picture. This can be reflected, for example, in that one department takes care of the coffee machines and the other takes care of the coffee, and the teams do not discuss how they could together provide the customers with better coffee experiences.