The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement retailer and ranks among the ten largest retailers in the United States. The Home Depot's business strategy is to offer a broad assortment of high-quality merchandise at low "Day-In, Day-Out" warehouse prices and provide exceptional customer service through highly-trained and knowledgeable associates.
The Home Depot culture, which is a significant strength of the Company, emphasizes a decentralized approach to management, and it encourages entrepreneurial innovation and high levels of commitment, teamwork, and enthusiasm by its associates. In the midst of an unprecedented expansion, doubling the number of stores, the need for highly effective assistant store managers, who are able to provide leadership and coaching to store associates, is essential. The Home Depot turned to Outward Bound Professional to provide vital skills to these managers in the management of their most critical resource—their associates.
In the format of a dynamic, action-oriented design, the high-level objective of these on-going one-day custom programs is to help managers become more effective leaders, by creating awareness and insight into three key areas. The key areas were: teamwork, trust and communication skills.
Based upon the end of program evaluations, Outward Bound Professional exceeded The Home Depot's expectations in every category including meeting their objectives, providing a premier program, and having outstanding facilitators. Specific outcomes included:
More Effective Teamwork
The assistant store managers are now developing more effective teamwork in their stores. They have a better understanding of what the characteristics of highly effective teams are and how to develop these traits with their reports.
The role of trust both in effective teamwork, as well as in empowering and developing employees is thoroughly understood. These managers report being able to better motivate their associates and imbue them with Home Depot culture.
Having practiced and discussed feedback skills, the managers are better able to both appropriately confront negative behaviors and provide effective positive reinforcement. This creates a more open workplace, where people are more aware of how they communicate and how it impacts others-both positively and negatively.
Cox Enterprises Executive Leadership Program
Each year Cox Enterprises runs an intensive Executive Leadership Development Program, which targets high-potential managers who are being groomed to run one of Cox’s varied businesses, such as a television station or automobile auction company.
The objective of the program is to enable Cox leaders to operate successfully in unique, decentralized, entrepreneurial organizations during periods of rapid change.
The program includes individual assessments, a four-day Outward Bound Professional expedition, a yearlong relationship with an executive coach, development planning, on-the-job action learning , and simulation-based classroom challenges.
Outward Bound is one of the first experiences these executives encounter as part of the Executive Leadership Program. Outward Bound encourages participants to push past their comfort zones, take risks, and utilize teamwork to reach achievement and success.
Gordon French, director of executive development at Cox Enterprises, has worked with Outward Bound to develop an intense four-day immersion into the wilderness of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The group navigates through the forest using maps and compasses, and tackles activities like the high-challenge ropes course, rock climbing and rappelling, and backcountry camping - including a "solo" night. Participants also explore leadership styles, learning methods and team building techniques with professional Outward Bound facilitators.
"Outward Bound sets a standard for the intensity, risk taking and commitment we expect from these managers during the Executive Leadership Program," French said. "The Outward Bound experience challenges these leaders and opens them to the potential for further growth. This is vital since most of them have a natural resistance to changing the working styles that have been the basis for their success thus far."
Outward Bound enables Cox employees to recognize their true capabilities while at the same time realizing the support available to them from their peers. "This self-reliance gives them the confidence to push themselves – to stretch and choose serious individual development plans that they will pursue with the guidance of a coach throughout the rest of the program," French said.
In addition to individual development, Outward Bound is also successful in developing a strong sense of team. "Outward Bound pushes our people hard and provides them with the kind of shared challenge that research shows is central to leadership development," French said. "The combination of physical activity, critical decision-making with immediate consequences, and daily triumphs of will and spirit enables the team to form a powerful group bond that is unmatched by any developmental activity we know -- short of real business crises."
At the end of the Outward Bound course, the group convenes to discuss their experiences. They review moments of success and achievement before switching focus to discuss the leadership behaviors and the environment that that enabled them to produce such remarkable results. They explore ideas such as the Pygmalion Principle of motivation, the need to provide safety systems as a prerequisite for business risk-taking, and how a coach-manager who delegates and empowers employees to make decisions also enables them to grow through the ownership of their own work.
Kurt Salmon Associates
Kurt Salmon Associates is an international consulting firm that specializes in the retail and consumer products industries. Consultants working for KSA spend the majority of their own time working at the client’s site in small project teams including both KSA and client employees.
Over the past three years, Kurt Salmon Associates has undergone rapid growth requiring the hiring and training of a proportionately large number of new consultants. To most effectively bring these new players into the KSA organizational culture and accelerate their start up learning curves, these new consultants all participate in a two-week orientation and training program during their first six months at KSA. With these objectives in mind, Kurt Salmon Associates turned to Outward Bound® Professional to help their new consultants develop team skills to use on project teams and build relationships within the company.
In the format of a dynamic, action-oriented design, the high-level objective of these on-going one-day custom programs is to accelerate the start up time of these new employees, by creating awareness and insight into two key areas. The key areas are: teamwork and camaraderie
Based upon the end of program evaluation results, Outward Bound® Professional exceeded Kurt Salmon Associates expectations in every category including meeting their objectives, providing a premier program, and having outstanding facilitators. Specific outcomes included:
More Effective Team Skills
The new consultants reported being better able to function in a team work environment both in theory and in practice. They have a better understanding of what the characteristics of highly effective teams are and how to develop these traits with their project teams.
Developed Strong Sense Of Camaraderie
Participants came away from the program feeling a much stronger connection to their colleagues and very willing to utilize one another as resources in work situations. Many reported that getting to know their colleagues in a different environment than the workplace, was not only enjoyable, but also very useful in building important professional relationships.
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North Carolina Outward Bound School is a registered 501(c)(3). Contributions are therefore tax-deductible to the full extent provided by the law. Financial information about North Carolina Outward Bound School is available from the NC State Solicitation Licensing Branch at (919) 733-4150.