Company: Tereos in partnership with The Oxford Group
Category: Best Leadership Development Program
Established in France in 1999, Tereos is the third- largest sugar group in the world with 26,000 employees across 18 countries.
The story behind this submission dates back to October- 2017 - the ‘sugar rush’. After 50- years of strict EU regulation/export sugar- quotas, the industry licked their lips ramping up production. The outcome was a supply surge into the world market leading to a historic global price slump. Having been cocooned by quotas the industry simply wasn’t equipped to fight in the fiercely competitive world market.
With competitors’ production plants/factories closing and the marketplace in turmoil Tereos recognized the urgent need to adapt and transform. L&D was vital to their diversification and expansion strategy. Specifically, senior leadership development.
The challenge here was twofold: the 47 global plants were managed by people who had typically never received any formal leadership development; and, being a cooperative group, Tereos faced the very real challenges of siloed working, different languages/cultures/behaviors.
Working collaboratively, The Oxford Group and Tereos designed a unique Plant Manager Development program - taking EVERY plant manager globally in three cohorts on a 13- month blended face- to- face and digital learning journey – overcoming the challenges and aligning to the business imperatives.
ACHIEVEMENT: FULFILLING THE OBJECTIVES
The program aimed to:
-Break down silos. Create a culture of community and transverse collaboration.
-Help people manage change and highlight diversification as a strength.
-Embed people values and behaviors, promoting understanding of the Tereos value chain.
-Develop leadership and management competencies (versus a purely technical focus).
ALL of which are being achieved with significant increases across EVERY metric surveyed post- learning
SIGNIFICANT BEHAVIORIAL CHANGE
Comparing pre- /post- learning scores (where 1 is poor/10 is excellent), across six metrics revealed, on average, a 19.7% increase. Examples here include:
-Building an efficient team: +22.3%.
-Explaining Tereos’ challenges: +25.8%.
ADHERENCE TO TEREOS’ VALUES
Similar significant shifts across every metric with an average increase of 15.3%. Big leaps here were:
-Adapting to change: +20.6%.
-Rethinking your position: +22.2%.
INCREASED LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT COMPETENCIES
The survey also revealed a 15% increase in the six measured leadership and management competency metrics, including:
-Supporting implementation: +21.0%
-Achieving agility in executions: +16.3%
-Taking responsibility: +12.4%.
With L&D vital to Tereos’ diversification and expansion strategy the Plant Manager leadership program has, without doubt, helped to transform the business and contributed to positive financials. With their closest competitor, Sudzucker, recording an EBITDA of - €102m (2019), Tereos is bucking the trend and outperforming competitors with a positive EBITDA of €37m confirming the strength in their resilient and flexible strategy.
WHY THE ACHIEVEMENTS ARE SIGNIFICANT
As a cooperative group that developed in an environment of quotas Tereos had allowed L&D to take a backseat with plants working independently, meaning silos had formed and certain behaviors had become ingrained.
In the past 12- months, as a DIRECT RESULT of the program, these behaviors have transformed (highlighted above) simultaneously increasing performance and leadership/management competencies.
Which, in turn, is having a proven positive impact on plant culture, employee engagement and morale
WHY THE ACHIEVEMENTS DEMONSTRATE BRAVERY
In the European sugar manufacturing market this is an industry first. No other senior leadership program this robust or complete exists. Beyond its originality the program is brave for two reasons:
A CHALLENGING BACKDROP: In its vision to build a global community to lift the level of strategic leadership at a time of major industry transformation. Many others – given the turmoil - are not taking the same risk to invest.
THE GLOBAL AUDIENCE: Many companies with such global diversity would take the ‘safer’ local approach. To take 47 senior plant managers, most of whom had never had formal training in management and leadership, out of the business for three weeks was a brave move.
By overcoming the cultural, language and geographical barriers Tereos is seeing indirect benefits, with international networks created, an increase in inter- plant trust/confidence and a culture of community.