Helping People Reach their Greatest Potential
Danaher, a global science and technology company, has an honorable and powerful shared purpose: Helping Realize Life’s Potential. They bring this purpose to life by making things better for their associates, customers, company, and ultimately, the world.
“Our annual employee engagement survey indicated that we needed to improve the effectiveness of our supervisors,” explained Annie Miller, manager, leadership development and learning.*
“In order to support our purpose, we knew it was important to start with our individual employees. We wanted our people to have foundational tools that would help them meet their business challenges. We already offered an introductory management training course but wanted to take the training to the next level—so we looked for a program that would provide everyone with a common leadership and coaching language. Our goal was to teach every people leader at Danaher. The solution needed to be available in multiple languages, effective in several cultures, easy to implement, and simple to understand—and we also had to maintain a budget for the training. We found the answer in Situational Leadership® II (SLII®) from The Ken Blanchard Companies.”
With the training program selected, Danaher began working on the implementation plan for delivering the learning globally. They named the process The Situational Leadership® II Experience. “We developed a customized standard work template and process that our operating companies could use to easily order the product. This helped us get the tools in everyone’s hands quickly and create a method for measuring the impact,” said Miller.
Headquartered in Washington DC, Danaher has a network of more than 30 operating companies and more than 66,000 employees. Miller started by creating a process that was rolled out through a matrixed, global organization that could be easily replicated for all employees of the operating companies around the world. The company partnered with Blanchard to align their Leadership Development Road Map with the skills taught in SLII. A Training the Trainer process was used to certify both HR and functional business leaders. By certifying a large number of people, they created a huge group to help champion the process, which enabled them to roll out the program globally at a rapid-fire pace. Blanchard trainers helped fill in the gaps. “We assimilated Blanchard trainers to the Danaher culture so they could step into our business and facilitate not only as content experts but as people who understood the Danaher Business System Model,” explained Miller.
Danaher knew that enthusiastic early adopters would help the program gain traction in their other operating companies. “When we launched the training, Fortive** was still a part of Danaher and they put some of their presidents through the training. They were so energized by the content that they cascaded their personal learnings and takeaways throughout their organization. When presidents from other divisions heard the positive feedback about the program, they wanted to get the training for their teams, too. Through word of mouth, they created exactly the kind of appetite we wanted for all the operating companies—and the demand for training skyrocketed.”
All Danaher companies operate under the same business model—the Danaher Business System—so it was important to link the SLII model to the company’s existing, familiar model. The common link between the Danaher Business System and SLII is that they both focus on the idea that performance starts with people. The Danaher Business System is a way in which the Danaher operating companies do business, and provides different tools and processes to support the work being done. Situational Leadership® II helps leaders provide their employees what they need, when they need it so that each person performs at their highest level. Both the Danaher Business System and SLII provide just-in-time tools to drive success. “The SLII model is completely consistent with how we operate. We task leaders with helping their teams realize their full potential and SLII gives them the exact tools to do that.”
Participants also have access to several online support tools for SLII that are available through a platform called Blanchard Exchange. Tools include worksheets to help with goal setting; conversation starters for planning one-on-one meetings with staff members; and checklists for assessing the effectiveness of communications. Also available are articles and videos leaders may share with their teams to further their understanding of SLII, as well as an app that allows leaders to diagnose direct reports’ development levels on specific tasks or goals. The comprehensive materials on Blanchard Exchange made it easy for Danaher to sustain the learning and embed SLII language into the company culture. “Blanchard Exchange is a particularly great tool for us because it includes so many supporting tools for the participants to use after they have gone through the training. And because it’s online, it’s available 24/7 around the world.”
Results to Date
In the short two years since the training began, Danaher has celebrated impressive results.
- The plan to train in all operating companies in 30 countries is right on track: Over 40 percent of managers in 15 countries have already received SLII training.
- More than 140 trainers have been certified to deliver the SLII program. Danaher is training HR staff as well as business leaders from each division. Training people outside the HR department has brought a new level of support from other departments and helped the company meet the velocity of the rollout. Danaher certified trainers have delivered 85 percent of the programs.
- The Net Promoter score for the training is 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Engagement scores have shown double-digit growth in some operating companies that made it a priority to focus on SLII, including Direct Supervisor Effectiveness and Communication.
- Employee retention has improved—and the training program is proving to be a means of attracting new employees.
The leadership development roadmap that Danaher designed provides a curriculum for individual contributors, leaders, and senior executives. Situational Leadership® II is infused throughout the curriculum because they see it as the foundation for leadership development. Situational Self Leadership from Blanchard is being added to the curriculum so that individual contributors will know how to work more effectively with their leaders to get their needs met.
“We are well on our way to having all Danaher leaders around the world speaking the same leadership language. We’ve trained more than 5,000 managers and are working hard to reach all of our people leaders. The partnership between Danaher, our operating companies, and The Ken Blanchard Companies is the key to reaching our leadership goals.”
*Annie Miller is now in a new role as HR Manager of Videojet, an operating company of Danaher.
**Fortive has since split from Danaher but they still use Situational Leadership® II.