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Leadership Development Is A Key to Better Business at Savage

As a supply chain and resource management company, the industries in which Savage operates can impact lives around the world. Many of our Customers deal with the materials that make and power our lives. Others source, store, and ship the food that keeps us fed.

Working in these arenas requires expertise and demands that the individuals involved consistently improve their abilities. Savage knows that providing the tools that help Team Members grow can only make them a more trusted ally to their Customers. This makes people the most important element in optimizing business practices.

The Big Picture

In today’s fast-paced world, the key to success is not simply technology nor market share, but Team Members. A company that invests in leadership development sees a significant return on investment in numerous critical ways. These are expressed by:

  • Increased retention as Team Members see opportunities for career growth;
  • Improved leadership quality that matches their superior job training tools; and
  • Deeper levels of Team Member synergy and expertise, leading to better business practices.

The People Development team at Savage has written a host of development courses to put people in the best position to win.

Leadership Development Supports Retention, Not Turnover

In “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” Adam Grant said that “talented people are attracted to those who care about them.” This provides some direction for an engaged company looking to hire and retain the best people. Top talent knows if a company is interested in their career growth. Karen Kahlig, the director over Savage’s People Development team, agrees. In terms of leadership development, she says, “We focus on preparing leaders to hire right, equipping them to train right, and sharing the importance of treating people right. It’s how we get better.”

Coming up with the best possible job training requires companies to understand their Team Members’ needs, experiences, and what they’re looking for in a career. And while pay, benefits, and career advancement all play a role in retention, an ill-equipped team leader can be a reason  .

People Development’s answer: the Leading at Savage program.

The two-day, classroom-style program is designed to arm front-line Savage leaders with the skills needed to lead their teams. For two intense days, attendees engage in activities that strengthen core leadership competencies including:

  • Self and others awareness
  • Coaching
  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Team building

Kahlig explains, “We developed Leading at Savage in response to feedback from our Team Member engagement surveys.” Here, Team Members provide the company with feedback about their experience at Savage. Many respondents said front-line leaders needed development. “In response,” Kahlig said, “we listened and partnered with a third-party vendor to do a needs assessment, identifying the specific things our front-line Savage leaders needed to know, understand, and be able to do. From there, we went to work developing the training to align with that.”

As part of Leading at Savage, attendees audio record their coaching role plays. When listening to themselves follow the prescribed coaching model, they immediately hear feedback aiding in awareness and allowing for improvement. This falls in line with another of Adam Grant’s beliefs: “people are remarkably open to criticism when they believe it’s intended to help them.”

Better Leadership Quality is a Product of Better Job Training

Realistically, not everyone in a company has the opportunity to work with direct reports. In fact, many desire only to be technically proficient at what they do, without the added pressures of leadership. The People Development group at Savage recognizes this and seeks to ensure that leadership development courses exist for Team Members of all types.

As the People Development team sees it, the responsibilities of leadership extend to all, in one way or another, from the time they enter the workforce. Tiered categories they’re exploring include:

  • Leaders of Self – exercising mastery over your own habits and work ethic
  • Leaders of People – directing the efforts of a team to drive results
  • Leaders of Leaders – coaching Team Members who lead those directing team effort

Each of these groups, Kahlig believes, merits its own job-training modules, and her team is working to build those. Some programs, like Leading at Savage, are already in effect, helping to train people whose influence ends at their own team. Other programs launch later this year, like Lead Right, are aimed to help those who, as Kahlig puts it, lead leaders at Savage, including middle management to senior leadership.

Although motivation is intrinsic, Lead Right is meant to raise the quality of leadership when those people are driven to improve. Kahlig explains, “A leader may ask, ‘How do I create the right environment that makes people want to work here? To do their best? To show up? To live and lead by the Vision and Legacy?’” Savage believes that better job training helps Team Members find these answers within themselves and their groups.

And what of those who aren’t currently in a leadership position? The People Development group has its eye on these “Leaders of Self” as well. Luckily, developing career growth through job training has a trickledown effect. Teams of people can grow closer together and improve from the top down as leaders raise the bar of quality.

The Savage Development Stacking Model is a Potentially Endless Career Growth Loop

The Leading at Savage course posed an opportunity for Savage. Kahlig said, “After designing it, we were faced with a dilemma: how do we deliver the content to a broad audience with an extremely limited number of facilitators?” Savage explored options, including extending the roll-out timeline with few in-house facilitators, bringing in third-party facilitator talent to deliver the course, or pairing internal facilitators with third-party partners. None of these approaches seemed like the best fit for where Savage wanted to go culturally and experientially.

For this reason, the Savage Development Stacking Model was conceived, creating a solution where front-line leaders are taught by developing mid-senior leaders.

The Savage Development Stacking Model aims to:

  • Develop mid-senior level leaders to train front-line leaders,
  • Raise the skill levels of both leader groups,
  • Create networking, mentoring, and real-life sharing opportunities, and
  • Provide career growth opportunities to trainers and graduates.

This model is the backbone of Leading at Savage, and there are a host of upsides to placing the reigns of leadership development within the hands of Savage team leaders. For one thing, students get the benefit of shared experience with their instructors. “Participants aren’t being taught by someone in the training department, nor by a third-party consultant,” Kahlig says. “They’re taught by Savage leaders who have experience dealing with some of the issues participants face.”

The benefits are ample for the teachers as well. In leading the training of their colleagues, these Team Members get a chance to field questions, solve problems, and hone their teaching skills.

In the end, Team Members become owners of the company’s success through leadership development and career growth. Better job training makes them more prepared and more able. Best practices rise to the top, work becomes more efficient, Team Members are more engaged, and Customers are better served.

And the cycle of excellence continues.

If you would like to progress your career with a company that values your growth, take a look at our job openings.