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12 Month Leadership Program: CORE

Division Director for CORE Participant

As you know, I wasn't a fan of the pilot program, it was too focused on assignments and causing stress, but this version helped Lindsey tremendously. I'm glad I didn't give up on her and see her continuing to grow in to bigger roles. 
comment during on-site certification visit

CORE is a 12-month program designed to develop excellent location and market managers through virtual and in-person sessions, self-paced learning, and developing practical tools for their location(s). CORE is an acronym that symbolizes the foundational learning for our managers and the key concepts the program focuses on - Communication, Organization, Relationships, and Expectations.

CORE is intended for managers who are newly promoted or hired as a manager and existing managers who are high potential we want to invest in their professional growth. It's the first program that we designed as part of a larger succession planning initiative, the Newcomer SPARX Program (Service, Performance, Achievement, Responsibility, and Excellence).

I wore many hats for this project:

  • Instructional Designer

  • Facilitator

  • Coach

  • Project manager

  • Subject matter expert

  • Event coordinator

I worked closely with our VP of Operations to help define and operationalize what an effective location or market manager looked like. Through an in-depth assessment process that included evaluating the success and challenges of our previous leadership programs, we could define the eight core skills needed and break them down into 20 competency behaviors.

After getting buy-in from our Chief Operating Office and Regional directors, we began designing and developing our blended learning program, which we piloted in 2021. We received valuable feedback on improving the program from our first group by lengthening the schedule from 6 to 12 months, the type of post-session assignments, and increased the peer learning elements.

CORE Skills: 

  • Time Management/ Organization

  • Problem-Solving/ Decision Making

  • Manage Team

  • Newcomer Structure

  • Manager FH Operations

  • Accountability

  • Communication

  • Crisis Management

 

CORE Schedule:

  • Late Summer - Virtual Kick-Off Session

  • Self-Paced Learning

  • In-Person Session 1

  • Post-Session Application

  • Self-Paced Learning

  • Virtual Session 1

  • Post-Session Application 

  • Nov-Feb - learning break, coaching only

  • Virtual Session 2

  • Post-Session Application

  • Self-Paced Learning

  • In-Person Session 2

  • Post-Session Application

  • Capstone and Site-Visit Preparation

  • On-Site Certification Visits

  • Late Summer - Certification/Completion In-Person Session

Leadership programs aren't new for the Company, but they haven't successfully developed strong skills and effective leaders. Our leadership team had difficulty identifying concrete goals and expectations for location managers, leading to theoretical programs focusing on interpersonal skills and philosophical approaches to what makes a great leader.

Previously, we invested in respected professional programs like Korn Ferry's Leadership Potential Assessment, The Leadership Challenge, and Inside-Out Coaching. The Inside-Out Coaching model resonated with our Company's leaders, as well as our location and market managers, but we still didn't have a practical skill development program to build it into.

In 2019, we finished our final LEAD (theoretical) program and put a hold on starting a new program until we developed a practical, effective, skill-based program that would truly develop strong leaders.

Specific concerns included:

  • Heavy investment in time and money for inconsistent results

  • Participants reported they enjoyed the programs and peer connection but couldn't identify long-term value

  • Company leaders felt the need to promote program participants who didn't have the desired skills

  • Lack of clear direction and guidance from Company leaders

The CORE Program has certified 15 managers since we implemented the program, who report finding value in their learning and ability to take their leadership skills to the next level. Their direct manager's report increased confidence and ability to manage the day-to-day operations of their locations with minimal oversight. Our executive leaders are excited about the program and continue to support the investment of time and money.

Because of the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day work, we faced unexpected challenges during our initial pilot and program implementation. We quickly realized the need to extend the timing of the program to 12 months, which allowed us to spread out the self-paced and application learning and take a break from structured learning.

We also incorporated more peer-to-peer learning activities by utilizing Microsoft Teams for guided conversation prompts and peer-driven connections. We scheduled virtual check-in sessions in between our structured learning sessions and encouraged current participants to reach out to previous program participants.

Individual coaching has made a significant difference in achieving our goal of a practical, skill-based program. Because learning needs, skill development, and location dynamics differ for each participant, the individual coaching session allowed participants to apply their learning meaningfully throughout the program. 

Program Participant Details by Program:

Pilot Program: May 2021 - June 2022

  • 8 participants - all current Newcomer associates

  • 5 experienced managers, 3 new to manager role

  • 5 successfully completed the program

  • 1 dropped the program due to personal reasons and joined the 2022-2023 program

  • 2 promoted since program completion

  • 1 demoted since program completion

Development Program: June 2021 - July 2022

  • 8 8articipants - 6 current Newcomer associates

  • 2 experienced managers, 6 new to manager role

  • 6 successfully completed the program

  • 1 promoted since program completion

Updated Program: August 2022 - August 2023

  • 6 participants - 4 current Newcomer associates

  • 1 participant joined the Pilot Program

  • 1 dropped the program due to personal reasons

  • 1 experienced manager and 4 new to manager role

  • 4 successfully completed the program

Current Program: August 2023 - August 2024

  • 5 participants - all promoted from peer to manager role

  • 1st In-Person session in mid-September

Details
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