group of smiling frontline leaders working together happily

Client Story

How We Did It: Improving Frontline Leader Turnover

How one organization improved frontline leader turnover using an innovative, blended approach to leadership development.

Read Time: 7 min

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The Need

One major food retailer was facing frontline leader turnover, so they wanted to offer these leaders career development to help them succeed and grow in their roles. 

The Solution

An innovative, blended approach to frontline leader development, including a leadership development subscription that gives leaders access to proven content to overcome role challenges.

The Result

Frontline leaders are successfully using the content to prepare for upcoming challenges in real time, and their official learning journey has yet to begin!

In this How We Did It  video, Alex Smith, consulting manager, shares how one major food retailer turned to DDI when they noticed an uptick in frontline leader turnover. 

With DDI's help, the company built a leadership development program to give frontline leaders the skills to succeed and grow. The program used a blended learning approach. It gave leaders access to a leadership development subscription with all the content they'd need to overcome role challenges in real-time. But that's not all. 

DDI also worked with the company early on to understand the strategic goals of the business, for today and the future. The result? All learning content was mapped to the company's strategy. This gave leaders the development to succeed today and advance with the company long-term. 

Learn about DDI's leadership development subscriptions


Beth Almes:                       

Hi everybody. I'm Beth Almes and I'm here today with Alex Smith, who's going to share a little bit with us about a client that he recently helped start a brand new leadership development initiative, and really flex their strength and creating a new approach to how they were creating better leaders in their company. Alex, great to see you. Thanks for being here.

Alex Smith:                        

Thanks for having me, Beth. Excited to be here.

Beth Almes:                       

So tell me a little bit about the company that you were working with?

Alex Smith:                        

So the organization I want to speak about today is a large food retailing company that was having growth, but also challenges at the same time in support of their growth. So some of the challenges that led them to come to us, were they were having a lot of turnover within their frontline leaders and their frontline leaders were leaving because there are better opportunities for advancement and career development outside of their organization. 

And the frontline leaders that were staying, sometimes weren't being given the appropriate amount of development to help them shift from being an individual contributor to a leader. So the organization came to us, looking for a solution to help create clear paths for advancement, but also to help them create a consistent language and approach to leadership across their organization.

Beth Almes:                       

What solution did you help them find? And how did that work?

Alex Smith:                        

The solution we help them find related to leadership development. So we worked with them to give their frontline leaders what we'd call a subscription to DDI's content. And what a subscription does is it unlocks all of DDI's leadership development content to their leaders. That includes our live courses, our virtual courses, our microcourses, our supporting content. 

So that's at the core of the solution, but what I think is leading to early success with this partnership is what we're able to do in partnership with our client, with the content. Before we even met with our partners, with the client, we sent them a quick survey to understand where's your business going? What are the strategic priorities over the next few years? And what does that mean in terms of the leadership challenges that leaders across all levels are going to face within the organization?

And we did from there, from the results of that survey is we mapped their strategic challenges and their leadership competencies to our content, which helps serve as a starting point that we can launch off from together. Then in our first meeting, we dug deeper into that. We really wanted to know, not just where's the business going, but what does success look like? Tried to get deeper around if we were successful one year from now, three years from now, in terms of solving this challenge, what would look different? 

And we also tried to look at what's getting in the way currently, and what's gotten in the way previously when they've tried to improve their leadership development. So we really looked at our first meeting as trying to understand the full business context, what was going on in this organization.

The Solution: Learning Journeys

Then what we did on the DDI side is we took what we learned in that meeting and we created multiple learning journeys using the content that's available to these leaders to help give them a starting point. So that was more of like a formal learning journey we created, which was part of it. The other part, which was more informal and that we're getting really positive feedback so far is the informal part, which is the personalized self-directed learning that we set up for leaders.

So while we created a formal learning journey, we also used their competencies and business direction to, as we said before, unlock all of the self-directed content so that leaders can access our content as they had real-time challenges. 

So for example, if Beth, if you were a leader in this organization and maybe you had to address poor performance for the first time as a new leader, and that wasn't included in your learning journey, you knew that you could go into your subscription content, access really good materials and really good e-learning for that so that you can real-time prepare for that challenge as it came up.

And that's where we're seeing really early returns. Their formal part of their learning journey hasn't even started yet, but of their leaders that have access to the self-directed content, most leaders have had multiple touchpoints within that content and have been using it to solve their challenges already. 

So when you start to combine that formal learning we spoke of before, but with that informal piece, you start to see more behavior change among the leaders. And it's solving the problem, one of the initial presenting problems, which was, we don't have anything available for frontline leaders as they transition and face challenges.

Beth Almes:                       

So before they ever even get into the classroom to learn together, they're already engaging with the digital content ahead of time. Is that right?

Alex Smith:                        

Yeah. One thing they did that worked really well. And I thought it was a really unique approach was they did have a kickoff for the broader, not just learning journey, but that broader approach. And also to introduce what's available to them via the e-content. 

They had the CEO of their organization join the call right after the software or where we house the e-content demo. He spoke about the importance of the content. He advocated for it, spoke about how he would recommend using it. 

And when you see that from the top of your organization, all the frontline leaders, well think a few things. One is, wow, my company is investing in me. And two is, this is really important. My CEO is saying I should go in here and use this. So that's one of the reasons we've seen that uptick before they even got into the formal classroom.

Beth Almes:                       

So what kind of early feedback have you gotten so far?

Alex Smith:                        

So far, the feedback has been really positive. So like I said, we haven't gotten into the classroom yet, but in terms of the e-content, the usage has been strong, where people who are going in once are going back in again to try something different, which is a positive lead indicator that we'll often see that people are getting value from it. 

We've also received positive feedback in terms of quick surveys that have gone out so far. So right now it's level one feedback, but we're also, heard anecdotal feedback from the client that so far, what leaders are saying and seeing is meeting the needs that they were presenting around career development and having some place to go to solve their challenges as it relates to being a new leader.

Beth Almes:                       

That's great. So thank you for sharing that story. I think it's super helpful as people start to think about much more innovative blended learning approaches to developing their leaders. Sounds like this client is off to a really strong start.

Alex Smith:                        

For sure. They certainly are. I'm excited to see where it takes them.