Space2BE worked with Aldi to help create a leadership culture in its corporate office that was fit for the UK’s fastest growing supermarket.
Aldi has successfully shaken up the UK supermarket sector in recent years, winning hundreds and thousands of new customers every year. Like any fast-growing business, it needed strong and capable leaders throughout the organisation, with the skills and motivation to drive the business forward.
Three years ago, Space2BE was asked to develop a pilot leadership programme for Aldi’s Corporate Office, which included a 360-degree feedback tool that would fit well into Aldi’s existing culture. Five managers and directors would initially take part in the programme, with a view to extending it further if successful.
“We had recruited a brand new team of leaders,” explained Danny Gibson, Corporate Logistics Director at the supermarket chain. “And while they were very experienced in their own profession they didn’t have any experience of Aldi, or in their new role. We wanted to bring this new team together quickly, and asked Space2BE for help.”
It was the first experience of executive coaching for Danny, his team, and for Aldi UK. “We had been exploring all sorts of ways of keeping the heart of Aldi’s culture while also getting people to the appropriate level in the organisation as quickly as possible,” says Danny. “I knew Space2BE’s work and because it was so new to us I wanted to work with people I knew I could trust.”
Karen Griffin, Managing Director of Space2BE explained how they had put together a bespoke programme of integrated learning which took account of the participants’ starting points and desired goals, Aldi’s unique culture and its well-established management system: “The programme included the facilitation of an extensive brief, a managed coach match process, 1:1 executive coaching for each participant of between four and six sessions each, leading-edge support materials, use of a market leading 360 degree feedback tool with clear instructions, webinars, leadership skills training when required, optional use of psychometrics, quality check points, an opportunity for team learning and before and after measures of capabilities”.
Karen also highlighted how hard the chosen coaches worked behind the scenes to get up to speed with the Aldi ways of working, while staying connected to each other so they could share organisational insights, “make meaning from these” and further enhance the quality of the coaching. These additional ‘organisational’ (not people) learning moments were then shared with the Aldi stakeholders for further reflection.
Danny, who experienced the programme himself, went on to say:
“I’d never had executive coaching before – and it was very successful. The coaching experience has been both revealing and challenging but critically has improved me as both a leader and a colleague. … The benefits for my team were both tangible and intangible. The overall programme created new ways of thinking and behaving within the team, which is always pleasing, however, it also impacted an already highly motivated team to be even more engaged with the business and work on continuous improvement ideas.”
Those participating in the programme showed a total improvement of over 200% in their perceived ratings of capability, with individual perceived improvements of between 17% and 300%!
One participant said that the programme had given him “a greater understanding of where I was going wrong. I now feel much more confident in my ability to take control and manage my team to a more positive outcome.” Another explained that it showed the benefits of using “a ‘pull’, rather than a ‘push’ style of leadership.” The pilot programme was subsequently extended to 13 more directors.
“My team really embraced the whole process,” said Danny. “One of the team has already been promoted, which is an indication of how successful the programme has been. It didn’t feel as though we were being pushed down a certain route. Space2BE has a very personal approach. I’d be very happy indeed to use them again.”
Pleasingly, the word has spread and Space2BE’s work with Aldi has continued across other departments with similar successes. Karen speaks on behalf of the Aldi coaches: “We love working with the Aldi team – talented individuals; a unique and successful culture and a business that is going places. Danny’s leadership with this initiative has certainly paid off both for his own team, and indirectly with the development of others across the business”.
“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water” by Rabindranath Tagore