Elearning! September

2014

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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Elearning! September / October 2014 35 WD-40 CEO Garry Ridge believes that leadership training is one of the most important factors in a successful busi- ness. A global employee opinion survey revealed that a remarkable 93.1 percent of WD-40's employees are engaged, with 96 percent of them demonstrating trust in their supervisors. "Te employees must feel they are in a trusted environ- ment and among people who want them to succeed," says Ridge. "We put the responsibility of the employee develop- ment on the leader." It's not surprising, then, that WD-40's Leadership Lab is being honored this year as a Learning! 100. Te Leadership Lab is a series of 16 courses, half-day each, related to being a leader and the skills required, including specifcs that apply to the company in particular. Te series is divided into three sections, 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. "Garry Ridge is the largest cheerleader for leadership efectiveness by providing the time, efort and treasure to improv- ing the company," says Stan Sewitch, WD-40's vice president for Global Or- ganization Development. "How we ap- proached training has been lef up to me and my team." Lab 1.0 is the "core" content, con- sisting of an approach that teaches the principles of human behavior in the context of a business (not clinical psy- chology). With the right principles, the leader is able to then select the right models and tools that may be avail- able — or create his or her own. This is teaching leaders to fish, rather than handing them models and tools that they cannot evaluate properly, as to whether they are effective. Such models and tools include so-called personal- ity inventories, situational leadership, Lominger Competencies, the "Seven Habits," and many other offerings. "It's not that these tools are inappro- priate, necessarily," notes Sewitch, "but they are insufcient in and of themselves. Even if the tools are good, the mechanic still needs to know how and why an en- gine is built the way it is." A speaker's panel at the culmination of Lab 1.0 includes CEOs, entrepreneurs, public service ofcials (like San Diego's mayor) and others to answer questions about their leadership experiences, chal- lenges, mistakes and ideas. Lab 2.0 includes courses that take a deeper look into the business and leader- ship applications of Lab 1.0 principles. Lab 3.0 is a seminar approach where graduates of both earlier levels meet to address real-life case studies, applying the principles already learned and solving the challenges as a team of leaders. "Our Labs are completely voluntary, although some people are encouraged by their coaches to attend," says Sewitch. To date, about 60 percent of WD-40's North American employees have been through one or more of the Labs. Attendance is open to leaders and non-leaders alike, as the company believes everyone is a leader in some way. Mixing people in terms of position in the management hierarchy encourages cross-level collaboration and mutual respect. It also gives the more senior leaders an opportunity to interact with people in the organization that they don't normally encounter. Te Leadership Lab program also has been conducted in WD-40's other trading blocs, including Asia Pacifc, Europe, Mid- dle East and Africa. "We have conducted portions of the Labs for our distributor partners is Asia Pac, and intend to ofer it to other distributors, as a way of helping them solve their own organizational challenges and to develop leaders," says Sewitch. Te program continues to evolve. In 2015, Sewitch's team will introduce short video vignettes that will be dis- tributed to the employee population as monthly snippets to remind them of the principles they have been exposed to, and to ofer ongoing tips and tools. Te company is investing in video produc- tion equipment and space and will likely engage with a local university's theater department to source actors. "We'll never be done with improving the programs, even afer 100 percent of our employees have gone through all three Labs," Sewitch concludes. WD-40 is a frst-time Learning! 100 honoree. WD-40's Leadership Labs Keep Retention Rates Above Average AREA OF EXCELLENCE C U LT U R E

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