A New Approach: Neil Devlin’s COE Journey through Coles

Prior to Neil’s engagement with COE, he grappled with an array of challenges within his newly inherited Coles team and region. These issues encompassed a team that lacked cohesion and experience, an ‘average’ people plan, and a region ranking in the middle of the pack. Missed People & Culture (P&C) targets further compounded the difficulties, exacerbated by the absence of a clear strategy and strategic plans. Neil was tasked with navigating the complexities of a post-COVID environment, adding an additional layer of complexity to an already intricate landscape.

A New Way of Thinking

Neil’s goals were to align his team and instil a new way of thinking, particularly in light of the need for a turnaround. He aimed to transition towards a proactive approach and focus more on the business.

Before COE, Neil had inherited a relatively new team that had been adversely affected by the challenges stemming from the COVID pandemic. Existing efforts to address the situation had not yielded significant improvements.

How COE Solved the Challenge:

Participating in COE challenged Neil in various ways, prompting self-reflection, strategic thinking, forward planning, enhanced communication, and a deeper understanding of demand and capacity principles. He also gained valuable insights into succession planning and the application of the “Plan, Do, Study, Adjust” model to team management. The outcomes of this transformation included:

  • Full alignment within the leadership team and the establishment of mentoring relationships.
  • Improved regional performance, ranking near the top in delivering metrics.
  • Exceeding P&C targets with a 5 point increase in engagement.
  • Development of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for the entire team.

“Every leader should do COE – it will transform how you and your team operate.  You won’t be able to imagine your life without it” Neil Devlin

Team resistance

Neil faced team resistance, which was rooted in both the difficult situation the team had experienced and a reluctance to embrace change.

But Neil’s COE journey equipped him with an array of useful tools and insights, such as the PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Adjust) cycle, multivote for quick consensus building, ecosystem analysis, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) self-assessment, skills matrix for identifying skill gaps, driver trees, value stream analysis, and the GROW model for coaching and mentoring.

The shift in how Neil’s team operates and the direct applicability of COE principles to his day-to-day responsibilities have been profound.

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