Innovative Practice/Initiative: Goldcorp's Supervisory Leadership Development Program (SLDP)
Goldcorp is the lowest cost and fastest-growing senior gold mining company in the world.
The company's mines are comprised of Red Lake, Porcupine and Musselwhite gold mines in Canada, the Alumbrera (37.5%) gold/copper mine in Argentina, the El Sauzal, Los Filos and Penasquito gold/silver/zinc mines in Mexico, the Marlin gold/silver mine in Guatemala, and the Marigold (66.7%) and Wharf gold mines in the United States.
Significant development projects include the El Morro gold/silver/zinc project in Chile, the Cochenour expansion at Red Lake mine, the Eleonore gold project in Canada, the Cerro Blanco gold project in Guatemala, the Camino Rojo project in Mexico, the Cerro Negro project in Argentina and the Pueblo Viejo gold project (40%) in the Dominican Republic.
Headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, the company employs more than 14,000 people worldwide at operations and development projects in seven countries throughout the Americas. Goldcorp has made a commitment to grow its people and this is reflected in significant and on-going investment in people development.
Producing gold, which is sold at the market price, leaves any mining organisation with the imperative to produce its gold at a low cost. Goldcorp has positioned itself as a low cost producer of gold and prepares itself for ongoing growth with a plan for "golden performance. Goldcorp believes that "golden performance" will come provided there is balance in achieving growth in six key areas: People, safety, partnerships, reserves, margins, and production. Growing people is deliberately listed first and is the primary driver of investment in the SLDP.
Goldcorp Inc. was created in 2006 after acquiring over $10 Billion in mining assets, through the merging of three different organisations. In an industry where mergers and acquisitions are the norm, site-level mining employees have little sense of who their "owner" is. Executives in the newly created Goldcorp wanted to deliberately build a culture where employees identify with Goldcorp. The desired culture was one in which the six strategies for golden performance were deeply embedded.
The Organisations Initiative
The success of Goldcorp's Supervisory Leadership Development Program (SLDP) is not found in the artistry of the learning design, nor the capabilities of the facilitators. We believe that the reason for our success with the SLDP is found in the fact that learning is clearly linked to our corporate vision and strategy. Clarity of strategic purpose for this program allowed both Goldcorp and our partners (The Refinery Leadership Partners, based in Vancouver BC) to work together effectively to realise that vision.
Executive ownership of the program in the form of Steve Reid, Goldcorp's COO, was present from its inception. Mr. Steve Reid is responsible for the vast majority of the 14,000+ employees in the company and all operational performance. Far beyond being simply a "sponsor", he articulated a purpose and vision for the SLDP early in the design process. This vision was given to those responsible for implementing the program - specifically Dr. Johan Jacobs (Goldcorp's Director of Organisation Development) and Dr. Mark Frein (Consulting Practice Leader - The Refinery).
This vision was to use the program as a primary vehicle for supporting the unification of organisational values and to demonstrate a fundamental message about the company's interest in its employees. In 2007, when the SLDP was initiated, Goldcorp was an organisation thick in the process of creating a new identity. While the company had a long history, Goldcorp had become a unique, world-class organisation through a series of corporate transactions that peaked in 2006 with acquisitions totalling more than $10 billion. Over a short period of time, Goldcorp had evolved into the world's lowest cost, fastest growing senior gold producer. Leadership development at a large-scale and across multiple levels of the organisation was seen as a key means to foster cultural development as well as to equip Goldcorp leaders with a common set of skills and principles for ongoing corporate success.
The SLDP was only one of several such leadership initiatives launched in 2007. Other important and complementary initiatives included coaching for senior managers and a safety leadership program for all operational managers. Since 2007, additional initiatives targeting line employees and director-level leaders have also been undertaken. All of these leadership and management development programs are unified by Goldcorp's preferred leadership framework (Kouzes and Posner's framework presented in their book "The Leadership Challenge") and the aim of supporting the six core strategies that provide a holistic view of Goldcorp's business: Grow People, Grow Partnerships, Grow Safety, Grow Production, Grow Margins, and Grow Reserves.
In addition to a personal invitation to the course, the following explicit messages were presented to each SLDP cohort starting the program through a video of Mr. Reid articulating his vision for what the program was aimed at doing and what his expectations were of them, as participants:
1. That learning is work (and work is learning). Goldcorp deliberately wanted to move away from the perception that "training" is seen as something apart or separate from the "real" job, or that training is a perk. Mr. Reid's message to the participants was that at the training, they were not "away" from their job. Rather, participating in a program aimed to build their supervisory skills was part of their job.
2. That the supervisory training was a component in an overall approach to leadership at the company. It is easy for participants in any training program to see the program as an isolated or "flavour of the month" activity without strategic purpose. The message to the participants was that the content and aims of the SLDP were aligned with the content and aims of all leadership development efforts at the company - encompassing senior leadership as well. The implicit message was that the participants were part of something larger than "just" the training program.
3. That feedback would be critical and valuable. In addition to his personal invitation to participants to attend the program, Mr. Reid also asked directly for feedback from the participants upon their completion of each component of the program. He personally wrote a note to all completing participants with a message appropriate to the context of the training workshop.
The implicit messages in the program were as powerful if not more powerful than the explicit messages. The presence, both virtually and physically, of the Chief Operating Officer of the company during the program affirmed to the participants that what they were doing mattered to the company. His presence also clearly implied that he would be interested in, and watching for, results. Dr. Jacobs attends all the sessions of the program, observing but also answering questions and helping the participants understand why learning matters to the company strategy. Fundamentally, the message was that Goldcorp cared, in the richest possible meaning of that word. This implicit message was, in matter of fact, the critical purpose of the program and the purpose given to The Refinery for the design of the curriculum. There is significant evidence that a culture of caring strongly correlates to a culture of safety within a mining company.
With these clearly articulated design principles as basis the SLDP program we constructed.
Goldcorp also identified three primary objectives for the SLDP:
To develop the management and leadership skills of Goldcorp supervisors.
To build a common framework for leading the organisation by enhancing the Goldcorp identity; this includes building relationships and partnerships between the various geographic sites.
To identify the top talent at the supervisory level.
In order to gain the best and most well-rounded insight possible Goldcorp's partners from The Refinery were invited to visit the company's operations. During these visits they had an opportunity to meet senior operation managers, human resources managers, as well as the most critical group of "consumers": The supervisory core of the operations. The designers literally walked a "day in the life" of a supervisor, following underground, mill, and maintenance supervisors through their daily rounds to experience their jobs - the demands of their work, the conflicts they feel, and what makes their jobs difficult.
What was learned
It is fair to say that The Refinery found both things they expected, but they also found some surprises.
These supervisors, like supervisors in any organisation, felt "squeezed" between the task of executing the demands of more senior management and cultivating the respect, trust, and confidence of their line.
The supervisors generally did not need much help doing what they believed to be their jobs. They were very good at doing the "job" of being a maintenance supervisor, or an underground supervisor, or mill supervisor with "job" understood as supervising work output (including safety output). Each had tremendous depth of practical knowledge to draw upon.
The challenge was not helping them to what they understood their jobs to be, but rather helping them see that their job included a variety of aspects they did not traditionally identify as core to the position: Particularly, the tasks of fostering engagement and commitment from their team, coaching and mentoring their reports, and reflecting on their own interpersonal behaviour as a leader. There was also a high degree of skepticism about learning: a number of supervisors either had negative prior experiences regarding learning, or none whatsoever.
What was designed
The program was designed using the The Refinery's specific leadership development framework. This framework leads learners through a sequence of developmental progressions - starting with Self, and concluding with Community. Our focus in the SLDP was Self, Team, and Organisation in keeping with the vision and desired outcomes of the program. The link to the strategies of Grow People and Grow Partnerships was made explicitly and at the beginning of the program.
The SLDP is divided into four face-to-face sessions spread over 14 to 18 months. The program is cohort-based with each cohort comprising representatives across all of the Goldcorp operations - a deliberate effort to "Grow Partnerships". Given language barriers, the English-language program covers Canadian and United States supervisors and a separate Spanish-language program is offered for Mexican, Central, and South American supervisors.
The first session is focused on Self (and is four days in length), the second on Team (also four days), the third on Organisation (three days plus a visit to a mine), and the last session the preparation and practice of an action learning project for presentation to senior stakeholders (four days). Each session builds on the material of the prior. Tying together and maintaining the momentum of the face-to-face meetings are multiple small group teleconferences that expand on ideas and skills covered in the sessions. The action learning capstone is completed by small teams from each cohort and is an opportunity for the supervisors to recommend small but important innovations to any relevant company process. At the close of the program, the action learning teams present their ideas along with business cases to senior management.
Beyond content, which touched on all aspects of Self, Team, and Organisation, we designed the program to be fundamentally driven by activity. We saw that the role of supervision is one of constant motion - whether underground, in a mill, or on maintenance rounds. These supervisors are "doers" and they learn by doing. We wanted them, however, to learn to reflect on their "doing" - on their interpersonal behaviours. To accomplish this, we could not simply sit them in front of a screen and tell them to reflect. We had to show them how to reflect by using their own behavioural tendencies as the content of the program.
We used methods as diverse as amazing-race style scavenger hunts, basketball games, and monopoly to illustrate behaviour and help them reflect. The activity-based design of the program not only fit well with the realities of their work, but it also "taught" the supervisors that learning can be stimulating, engaging, and fun. One of the challenges the design of the program overcame was the skepticism regarding training that many of the supervisors brought to the experience. Those who had been to "training" in the past often had very negative perceptions of supervisory or leadership training.
Evidence of Impacts
What happened next?
We have collected extensive data on the program - both qualitative stories emerging from participants (and their managers) and quantitative data in the form of participant reaction, and the impact on the participants' performance in their roles. Some of these measures are shared below.
We know, conclusively, that the experience many supervisors have had in the SLDP has not only changed their leadership performance for the better, it has changed their lives for the better. Further, we know that the SLDP has, along with the other leadership initiatives undertaken by Goldcorp, contributed to significant positive change at multiple mine sites.
We expected that participants would enjoy and find value in the program. We did not expect the extent to which the program has become part of the culture of the company. An entire language has developed around the program experience. Supervisors talk of going "to cohort". Lead instructors have been welcomed at mine sites with accolades: "This is my teacher. He's why I'm leading the way I am now."
The gaining of a "critical mass" was seen as necessary to achieve the desired impact, and beyond the clarity of purpose and vision provided by Mr. Reid, the speed and commitment to the rollout of the program across all sites significantly contributed to its ability to impact culture and achieve its goals. Within the course of one year, nine cohorts of approximately 16-20 supervisors had been launched. The volume and speed of rollout allowed entire mine sites to become "saturated" quickly and all supervisors at a site to have experienced the same learning.
We have continued to refine, adjust, and change the program. Not everything worked as we hoped or intended, but systems of feedback between The Refinery, and Goldcorp were nimble and direct. While every participant to-date has reported finding value in the SLDP experience, not every participant has found the new skills easy to implement in the workplace. Occasionally, this is due to the difficulty in gaining support or understanding from their immediate manager and occasionally due to difficulty consistently changing behaviour.
While not perfect, and still evolving, the SLDP is a testament to strategic learning done right. Starting from the top of the company, the program had an explicit link to corporate objectives. The presence of the COO as a stakeholder of the program ensured that participants took the program seriously, and the presence of Dr. Jacobs during every cohort for at least one meeting with the participants ensured that Goldcorp was receiving data on the program. Design followed strategy, and commitment to the program never wavered. As of December 2010, 11 cohorts of the SLDP have graduated and an additional l6 cohorts will be graduated by the fall of 2012.
We subscribe to the view that no single measure will accurately reflect the effectiveness of a leadership development program such as the SLDP. Instead, we opted to look at several different items that all have a relationship with this initiative, some directly and some indirectly. Together, these items can point to real changes that have or have not occurred.
Measures for this program fall into five levels or categories:
Level 1 - Reactions & Planned Actions: The first level of evaluation captures opinion data such as satisfaction, enjoyment, and perceived value. It also captures the planned actions or intentions of participants.
Level 2 - Learning: The second level of evaluation captures the change in knowledge, understanding, ability or attitude of the participants. It can also measure confidence of participants.
Level 3 - Application and Implementation: The third level of evaluation captures the applied actions that are the result of learning. This includes changes to ongoing behaviour and putting the skills learned at a workshop into practice on the job.
Level 4 - Business Impact: This level of evaluation captures the consequences that the behaviour changes have on the organisation. This level attempts to draw conclusions about the impact of a program from an organisational perspective. This includes impacts on business measures such as strategies.
Level 5 - Return on Investment Data: The fifth and final level of evaluation captures the monetary values of improvements resulting from the program and compares them to fully loaded program costs.
We also endeavour to track intangible benefits: Similar to business impact data, this form of data captures the consequences of behavioural applications but it does not seek to link the data to specific business measures.
Each level builds successively off of the previous level. For example, a participant must first have a positive reaction to an event in the program in order to create the possibility that learning may occur. However, enjoyment of a workshop does not directly mean that the participant has learned something. For this reason, we move to the next level of measurement - Learning (e.g. what has changed in the mind of the participant?). Similarly, learning alone does not guarantee changes in behaviour. Measuring behaviour allows us to see what actions have been implemented as a result of the reactions and learning participants have had to the program. Finally, behaviour changes do not mean that organisational results have been achieved so it is also necessary to measure an organisational bottom line.
As a result of the program we are observing behavioural changes that drive not only an improvement in the organisational culture, but also an improvement in the end results of Goldcorp.
We actively measure the impact of the program and this is an ongoing effort. What follows here is a snapshot of some of the results gathered so far - and should be read with "so far" in mind!
Level 1 - Reaction & Planned Actions
80% of respondents indicated an intention to improve their communication with others, particularly their teams. They also indicated an intention to both listen more frequently and adjust the way in which they listen to others, particularly on their teams.
60% of respondents indicated that they intend to give and receive more feedback. The same majority also intended to foster the growth of their team, either through coaching, building trust, or empowering others to do the jobs they are capable of.
50% of the respondents indicated that having a big picture perspective on the organisation will help them to communicate the corporate perspective to their respective teams and to make better decisions.
Program Content Fit with Participant Needs
Value of Intersession Activities
Appropriateness of Program Investment
100% responses indicated that the SLDP was an appropriate investment.
Open-Ended Participant Feedback
We also captured this type of feedback as part of our continuous improvement efforts.
Level 2 - Learning Data
Post-workshop Survey Data against Learning Objectives
Responses indicated that participants judged their overall learning from the program to be between 75-81%. "Learning" includes understanding the impact of strong supervisory leadership practices at Goldcorp and the relationship to organisational performance; the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (69%); practicing the management of time and budget (69%); giving and receiving feedback; adapting a situational leadership style; emotional intelligence; problem solving; team effectiveness; listening, and coaching; running effective meetings; understanding how to identify and develop top talent; repairing relationships; understanding Goldcorp's strategy; understanding how everyone's decisions affect the financial health of Goldcorp.
Supervisors struggled most with financial topics, including their role in capital expenditure.
Participant Presentation of Learning in On-Camera Interviews
Following Workshop 2, participants presented their learning in open-ended on-camera interviews. Out of this it became clear that they benefitted most from the Emotional Intelligence in Action (EQIA) report; that they benefitted from increased self-awareness, self-discovery and coaching; and building trust amongst their team (within their cohort).
Level 3: Application and Implementation Data
Managers' Observation of Supervisor Behaviour
Prior to the program, the managers of participants were asked to rate the participants on ten key behaviours that the program intended to instill in the participants. The managers were then asked to rate the participants again at the end of the program. 50%+ showed significant positive shifts.
Business Impact Data
Execution of Goldcorp's Six Strategies
We track contributions to each of Goldcorp's six strategies. Our data shows that the program successfully helped with Growing People, Growing Safety, and Growing Partnerships - the three softer pillars of Goldcorp's six strategies.
Business Improvements Reported by Participants
The linkage to Goldcorp's six strategies also prompted the participants to provide details regarding the improvements they made. Examples of the Grow People strategy included personal growth, growing a team, continuous personal growth, openness to feedback, increased flexibility of a team, identifying a corporate brand for recruitment efforts, communication resulting in retention of staff and realising how everyone fits together in Goldcorp.
Return on Investment Data - attempting to compare a monetary value for the program benefits against program costs.
We have only limited success so far in accurately establishing this type of data. The reasons for this include the fact that it is difficult to place a monetary value on, for example, the prevention of accidents and the improvement of soft skills such as teamwork, communication and respect.
Reported monetary improvements adjusted for conservatism and reported by participants totaled to $264,600 (USD).
Although there are many references to similar themes throughout this evaluation, improvements to the following are a summary of the intangible benefits reported by participants upon graduation from the SLDP:
leadership of direct reports
orientation to safety
pride in one's job
understanding of the business
ability to do financial analysis
Goldcorp Identity and Partnerships
Through in-depth interviews conducted after the program was complete, interviewees were asked to comment on two aspects of the overall program objectives: Creating a sense of identity of Goldcorp and building partnerships across structural and geographic barriers. The themes from these interviewees can be summarised under one heading: Goldcorp is different.
It was noted that Goldcorp is unique in that it had such a focus on culture; people within Goldcorp are very progressive and hands on; all levels of the company people are very agile and approachable; Goldcorp walks the walk when it comes to its "Grow People" strategy and is not afraid to spend money to back it up; financial management is viewed as important and people are trained to do it; the company provides leadership development for all levels; partnerships made in the SLDP have shifted the perspective of participants and enabled them to leverage their partnerships to make better decisions; supervisors are now better able to organise and manage meetings.
When considering the data provided at all 5 levels of evaluation, it becomes clear that the SLDP not only set up the right environment for participants to learn, grow, and change their behaviour, it also made clear links to engagement and improvements related to Goldcorp's six strategies. A high level summary of the findings is listed below:
The SLDP resulted in a favourable reaction from the participants; they left the workshops with the intention to lead differently, valued the support they received for on-the-job application of their learning, and considered Goldcorp's investment in the program appropriate.
The SLDP's content framework (me, my team, my organisation) helped participants learn to be better leaders by developing greater understanding and awareness of self, building an appreciation for a true team approach, and seeing a broader organisational perspective.
While behavioural data where the participant's manager was the data source yielded mixed results, the most convincing of the application and implementation data was that nearly all of the interviewees at graduation self-reported that their leadership style was different compared to the beginning of the program; further study is needed to understand if these changes to behaviour are consistently noticed by others.
Where complete data was available, we saw mostly positive shifts in engagement.
The SLDP was a major contributor in helping the participants make improvements with respect to three of Goldcorp's six pillars for golden performance: People, safety, and partnerships.
A conservative estimate of the program's ROI was between 1% and 58%.
In addition to the conclusions above, much of the impact of the SLDP is best presented as intangible data. Throughout the evaluation process participants consistently reported intangible data, and in some cases they made specific reference that the outcomes were intangible. In a program that was designed primarily to "grow people", this is no surprise. The ideal outcome of the SLDP would be that people have grown, they have formed meaningful relationships with other people in the organisation, and as a result of this, they now see Goldcorp in a better light. The evidence is overwhelming that this is true.