Coca Cola Uses Merkis
for their Management Succession Program and COBRA Performance Management Relaunch
Coca-Cola HBC is one of the largest bottlers and vendors of The Coca-Cola Company’s products in the world, and the largest based in Europe serving 585 million people in 28 countries. \With unique portfolio of brands, mix of geographies and passion for marketplace implementation Coca-Cola HBC is leader in the alcohol-free beverage industry. Coca-Cola Hellenic Russia operates bottling plants in Moscow and Moscow region, Saint Petersburg, Orel, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Rostov region, Volzhsky, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Vladivostok.The Moscow operation approached us with a request to structure and conduct management succession program. They had had chosen their talent pool and wanted to prepare its participants for a smooth transition from “manage people” to “manage managers”. Previously, when promoted to the next position and without initial preparation, managers were not really ready for that, they operated following values and standards of the old post, thus resulting in loss of personnel or profits and strategic mistakes. Since all participants have had much of internal Coca-Cola trainings and were not too motivated to participate, the Client wanted something both unique and with a more durable effect than traditional training, and also based around key Coca-Cola competences. Key outcomes to be reached were conscious preparation for their next “manage mangers” position with the necessary value change as well as motivation increase for professional development.
We went for almost a year long management succession program based on our simulations.
We kicked off with 3 day business simulation Merkis Development. In addition to the Merkis game itself we used 3 coaches who worked full time observing and coaching 7 participants each. Once a day each coach met each of „his” participants for a coaching meeting. For the first session it was rapport building and feedback on 7 key Coca-Cola competencies showed in the game, then it continued with coaching about areas skills to develop end resulted in a plan for remaining 2 days of gameplay. Participants had to follow plan and make changes in their behavior already for the next game year next morning! Afterwards for the next 2 days there were around 4 more session of feedback and coaching about the progress made. When the simulation was finished there was one more coaching session for each participant devoted to real life transfer of learning from the simulation and creation of individual 3 month development plan.
Following Merkis we run an 8 month manager development program in order to prepare them for their new roles when promoted. Each month we had a 4-6 hour development event devoted to each of 7 key Coca Cola competencies and usually based on our business boardgames. We run Expansion game for Strategic Thinking competency, TimeMentor Office simulation for Organization and Planning, Situational Pirate (game on Situational Leadership) for Management etc. On top of that the group did involving and challenging home assignments, that allowed them to see the life from their managers perspective, such as shadow coaching, writing department’s strategy and budget (as if you were your boss) etc.
The whole program was a great success both from participants and business point of view. Helicopter view from Merkis gave them business understanding. 7+ game based development events about key competencies had ensured key skill development. Home assignments created value change. Many participants got promoted already by the end of 9 month, and key difference was that now they were professionally and mentally ready for that.
Another Coca Cola plant, in Rostov, had a different situation. They needed to do a relaunch of COBRA. COBRA is a performance management system that is designed especially for Coca-Cola, and consists of 5 key elements: Strategy, KPI, Monitoring, Training at the Workplace, and Summing-Up. COBRA was launched in Rostov 5 years ago, since then some departments have stopped using it as well as many initially trained people have left the company and there were new managers, who have never heard of COBRA. Also participant motivation to the coming COBRA relaunch training was really low because participants did not see much sense in the process as well as were expecting 2 days of slideshow presentations.
We chose as a solution Merkis business simulation. Instead of slideshow participants were playing the simulation. In between game years we did short 20 minutes COBRA part presentations and asked participants to implement in their game enterprises the particular part discussed. For instance after presenting a part of COBRA f.i. Strategy we asked players to create all Cobra Strategy elements for game enterprises, after presenting KPIs, they had to develop KPIs in the game. We also made sure that after introducing COBRA parts and running them in their enterprises for a game year or two participants had immediate follow up discussion on how particular COBRA part had actually helped them to get better business results, and what would that mean in real life. When participants saw the real value on how COBRA improved actual game business performance, and how it could do the same in real life only then we tasked them with a monitored one month home assignment of real-life COBRA relaunch in their departments and functions.
As a result we achieved several outcomes. 1) High engagement of participants – they were playing a simulation, not „learning”. 2) No resistance to COBRA relaunch, just the opposite – motivation towards it. 3) Much deeper experience based understanding of COBRA compared to PowerPoint style of trainings – participants already have done it, implemented it as well as made their mistakes and corrected them in a business setting
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