Sony plays a new gameOn 1 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Simon Kent looks at how the Consumer Business Group at Sony Europeintroduced experimental training methods to employees from the eastern areas ofthe continentWhen Sony Europe set out to develop leadership skills within its easternEurope managers, they wanted an event which would be a memorable experience.The intervention had to engage participants, giving them valuable experienceand learning they could take back to the organisation in their own country. According to Dipayan Roy, senior manager for training and development of theConsumer Business Group for Sony Europe, the final intervention, completed thissummer, had its genesis two years previously with an extensive competencyassessment exercise. This research helped the organisation identify areas whichwould be important to the development of the company in the future. “We used self-assessment, behavioural event interviews andconsultations among managing directors and many other people who worked withthese people on a daily basis,” says Roy. Faced with increasingcompetition and a rapidly changing market place, these managers were seen tohave a very specific and important role to play within their organisations.”The programme we wanted to design had to focus on giving these managersthe skills needed to lead change, rather than just enduring change,”explains Roy, “We needed something which would push them outside theirusual comfort zones but which would ensure the entire experience could betransferred back to the workplace.” Sony defined the required leadership competency as the ability to set avision and high standards and to convince others to strive towards thoseobjectives. “It involves motivation skills and the ability to empowerteams to make sure the desired results are achieved,” says Roy. At thesame time, given the shifting economies of eastern Europe, the company also neededa competency it called ‘building capability’ – an entrepreneurial skill throughwhich the managers could raise the capability of others while providingsupport. Having identified these two areas, the company turned to experientialtrainers Impact, which provided two development modules over four months.Addressing 25 participants from Sony sales, HR and other functions in Poland,the Slovak and Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia,the first of these modules lasted three days and focused on each participant’spersonal performance – increasing self-awareness. Experimenting The second module, lasting four-and-a-half days, addressed how eachindividual operated as a leader. While Impact’s characteristic experientialstyle of learning involved participants practically in experimenting withdifferent approaches to this skill, the second module featured a great deal oftheory, including an introduction to ’emotional intelligence’. “Therequirement for theory came from the participants,” notes Andy Ligema, anImpact facilitator on the project. “We didn’t use much theory in the firstmodule but by module two, there was a clear demand for material on leading andmanaging change.” While similar Western-based programmes have touched on the theory as well asthe practical aspect of leadership, it was clear Sony’s eastern Europeanparticipants had less knowledge in this area. “They hadn’t had muchexposure to these approaches,” says Ligema. “Some had virtually none,so we needed to introduce and demonstrate the concepts.” Most importantly, Sony ensured classroom learning was both supported by anddirectly affected the business by establishing individual projects for eachparticipant to begin and continue alongside the development intervention. Theprojects were split between initiatives which the managers had to address inthe course of their work and new initiatives derived by the individualconcerned. “We had the option of creating projects specifically for developmentpurposes” says Roy, “But this way we could identify things that wereimportant to those managers and assess what was not being done within theorganisation.” While the projects were revisited during Impact’s secondmodule, they were not designed to terminate with the development programme butto go on into the future, delivering business gains. “Not only did we set up these projects for each individual, but we madesure the business would champion each project,” says Roy. This approachincreased the value managers felt the organisation attached to theirdevelopment and made them realise the contribution they could make to thebusiness. It demonstrated that the organisation wanted to benefit from theirincreased leadership skills. Feedback from the course has been extremely positive. The managers involvedhave reported increased awareness of the impact they have on the people aroundthem, are more confident in their leadership and feel supported by theorganisation, not least through the network of managers the modules have established.”The fact the business projects identified are clearly moving forwardis extremely encouraging,” says Roy. “It shows the initiative has got the right balance. We have ourmanagers’ endorsement, while also improving performance within the organisationitself,” he adds. Related posts:No related photos.