Summary

Challenge: A lack of confidence in the KP Leadership team meant they had to earn the trust of employees and customers, and think and behave in a fundamentally different way.

Solution: An eight-month leadership development programme called ‘Living Leadership’ to raise the consciousness of the leadership team, and to give them the confidence and courage to take action.

Results: Now an essential and recurring learning journey for leaders at KP Snacks.

To read the full details, see below.

The Challenge

In 2015 KP Snacks experienced a difficult and disappointing trading year. A change in ownership in 2013 meant that their attention and energy had been more internal to manage the transition. This involved three site closures and one site relocation all of which affected hundreds of colleagues. With their focus elsewhere, they were not meeting their sales or profit targets and they were losing market share. They were struggling with customer satisfaction (customers had ranked KP Snacks bottom in the annual Advantage Group Survey). Furthermore, an internal employee survey highlighted that there was a lack of confidence in the KP leadership team. It was clear that the leadership team had to address these issues, earn the trust of employees and customers, and think and behave in a fundamentally different way.

 

The Solution

KP Snacks had already begun to identify a collection of values and behaviours they wanted to be known for. What they now needed to do was to live these values and to role model these behaviours in their leadership team. BRIDGE were invited to develop an eight month leadership development programme called ‘Living Leadership.’ The intention was to raise the consciousness of the leadership team, and to give them the confidence and courage to take action. Another desired outcome of the programme was to ensure the leadership team were living and breathing the values and behaviours that had been identified.

The ‘Living Leadership’ programme began with a 360-degree feedback exercise for the participants. Colleagues provided feedback that enabled participants to understand how they were perceived by others and which areas of growth they needed to focus on. A series of telephone coaching sessions followed with their line managers and a coach, designed to support them in their growth areas.

At BRIDGE we believe that leadership is best seen as a practice (not a spectator sport) and leaders learn by doing. A key part of the programme included a highly immersive ‘intervention’ where we took participants out of their day jobs to spend a week working with a local community organisation in need of support. The cohort tackled challenges that the organisation were facing and coached employees of the organisation to find suitable solutions. Working in partnership with local charities, schools, businesses enabled leaders to give back to the community (which was extremely gratifying) and also provided the cohort with an opportunity to practice some of the values and behaviours they had identified, away from the distractions of emails, meetings and daily working life. With the support of facilitators from BRIDGE, the cohort focused on ‘seeing things differently,’ ‘surfacing insights’ and ‘shaping the future.’ Several years on some of the Living Leaders at KP Snacks have remained connected with the organisation they worked with during their community partner week.

This immersive week was designed to disrupt current ways of thinking and behaving. The experience resulted in an extraordinary shift in mindset and self-awareness as well as personal discovery. It also resulted in many strong bonds being formed within the group of leaders. The cohort received several coaching sessions in the months that followed in order to embed what they had learnt.

 

The Impact

The programme made a huge difference to the way the leaders showed up at work, how they led their own teams, and importantly how they led in partnership with each other, bringing functions closer together.

What started out as a pilot programme soon transformed into an essential and recurring learning journey for leaders at KP Snacks with 90% of the leadership team now having been through the Living Leadership programme.

Internal surveys demonstrated that confidence in the leadership team had shifted dramatically, with the leadership score increasing more than 20% in the Best Companies Survey. KP Snacks are retaining over 90% of their people and attracting great talent. In addition, the organisation has seen significant revenue, profit and market share growth, they have acquired three new brands Butterkist, Tyrrells and popchips. Market share is up from 12.3% (2013) to 19% (2019). Customer confidence has been restored with KP Snacks moving from 21st (2015) to 2nd (2019) in the Advantage Group Survey for the grocery category. In 2018, KP Snacks was recognised by the IGD winning the “Business Transformation Award” with their leadership alignment and collaboration called out by the judges. They have also achieved “Ones to Watch” recognition from Best Companies in 2019 (participation in this employee engagement survey was 86%, It was just 59% in 2015).

Mark Thorpe, CEO comments that ‘The KP Business has been transformed over the last 6 years. At the heart of the transformation has been the focus on developing Leaders who truly understand their role both collectively and individually in developing capability, building strong relationships and creating a culture in which colleagues can thrive. The Living Leadership programme with its experiential learning process has been key to developing those Leaders.’

Johanna Dickinson, HR Director comments that ‘Living Leadership was so different to any other leadership programme I had experienced. By immersing ourselves into a completely unfamiliar environment with the college, it forced us to shift our focus to ourselves as individual leaders as well as understanding each other more. Only by doing this would the impact we have change for the better. We began to see a positive impact on the business immediately as leaders showed up at work with a different attitude and worked in partnership more.’

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