Cheers to blended learning success!
By Ken Govan the 16 September 2021
William Grant & Sons and Cegos recently won Gold in the prestigious Brandon Hall Excellence Awards for ‘Best Use of Blended Learning Program’. Here is the story of how Cegos’ team helped a global F&B company regenerate their leadership program with a truly blended approach.
William Grant & Sons objective: Increase leadership capability
William Grant & Sons are a long-established business, specialising in the production and distribution of spirits across the world. In 2017, the senior leadership team set the goal of increasing leadership capability and with a need to focus on succession planning, strengthen the leadership pipeline. They were keen to develop a more adaptable leadership culture across the organisation. Today’s new leaders should be able to lead consistently as well as motivate and retain employees with increasing confidence in leading their teams and maximising potential.
Since the previous leadership program was no longer fit for purpose, Cegos was commissioned to refashion the program. ‘Essentials of Leadership’ was the result.
With a business that is constantly growing and innovating, the programme needed to demonstrate entrepreneurial thinking in its design and demonstrate a commitment to its sustainability through the active continuous improvement of design features, delivery approach and participant experience. The company’s L&D moto “Be your best self” underpinned the programme design and appealed to the ambitious nature of participants. Plus, there was a real focus on self-driven learning and accountability for the results.
A blended learning approach
The program was designed to cover seven modules over a 12-month period, with plenty of opportunity for reflection and, crucially, putting learning into practice. A blended approach was adopted, using the Cegos LearningHub as the central portal for delivery and monitoring progress. Participants take part in virtual classes, coaching sessions, learning sprints (concise learning packages focused on a specific skill) and ‘action learning’ groups.
Participants must also complete an implementation journal, detailing how they apply learning from various modules with supporting evidence. They then have a one-to-one meeting with their leader to discuss outcomes.
Importantly, the training was aligned closely to the company business plan, inspiring the flexible and empathetic style of leadership the company was aiming for.
The seven modules comprised the following topics:
- Leadership and self-awareness
- Adapting your leadership style
- Enhancing resilience and managing stress
- Managing change and leading effective teams
- Influencing and persuading for success
- Leading remote teams
- Reflections and presentations of learning outcomes
Initially, the training was delivered both online and face-to-face. However, the arrival of Covid-19 in March 2020 disrupted the program delivery for that year’s cohort. Thankfully, Cegos already had a robust digital infrastructure in place, so it only took a short time to transfer the face-to-face content to a digital setting.
The early roll out of the ‘Essentials of Leadership’ program was a success. At the end of each module, participants were asked to evaluate it in terms of how much they learned and how engaged they were with the material. They were also given opportunities to provide direct feedback and seek support if they had problems. With this structure in the place, we were able to address any issues and make improvements quickly when necessary.
The most important benefit was the transfer of learning to the workplace. The implementation journals and participant presentations demonstrated a huge transformation. Participants shared how their learning had a positive business impact. 40% of ‘Essential of Leadership’ participants are now in the top talent pool, indicating the program helped them significantly unlock performance and support the business.
Following this success, the program was launched in offices across the globe.
“It wasn’t just about building a leadership culture, it was about building a learning culture at the same time,” says Jan Roberts, L&D partner at William Grant & Sons. “Cegos have done very well in terms of the client management, the support, and the speed and agility to design different modules. One of the success factors was in staying absolutely true to that blended design principle, with the applied learning and the learning from others being fundamental. But also how we hook and maintain support from participants’ leaders on that journey.”