Mondelēz International, the global snacking giant, launched a plan in the second half of 2019 to align its core people process to the new Strategy, Purpose and Values of Mondelēz International. The new direction called for disrupting the snacking industry and opening itself up to new exciting opportunities in the space of mindful snacking. To support those efforts required an agile, robust leadership and talent pipeline prepared to compete to win in every market. Every day.
Mondelēz, like many large global companies, leverages a series of frameworks and tools to build and grow careers. Included in their toolbox was the ubiquitous 9-Box Performance-Potential map, which has lit up HR discussion forums for the past few years. Instead of contorting to fit the 9-box, Mondelēz created a custom fit solution.
RBL partnered with Mondelēz to create an updated approach to evaluating talent, built around three guiding principles: Simplicity, Driver of Differentiation, and Focused on Development.
A small global team of individuals from Mondelēz and RBL, sponsored by Mondelēz SVP of Talent & Organization Effectiveness, Atul Khosla, researched, designed and developed a new approach to Careers and Talent Development over the holidays and into Q1 2020 that addressed every guiding principle. A framework (named Talent Calls), along with a set of tools and a robust learning program with activities built around “Personas” were all developed for a global audience of HR professionals and line managers.
All was set to roll-out in mid-March when the COVID-19 global pandemic hit. Travel restrictions had been enacted, and the in-person launch of the program six days later was no longer possible. All the work the team had been focused on, that stretched from Australia to India to Brazil and 3 U.S. time zones was now (potentially) on an indefinite hold.
However, true to their Values and Commitments, including the main pillar of Grow Every Day, a different decision was made. The decision was that careers were important yesterday, today and certainly in the future. As a result, the team’s focus shifted to how they could continue with the rollout of the new approach to Career Development & Growth, with associated learning, while remaining sensitive to the resource demands during a global pandemic at a company that supplies food to the world’s population.
RBL, leveraging extensive experience delivering programs virtually, worked with the Mondelēz team to shift the planned in-person education/launch program to a fully virtual format. This transition would require a rethinking of how the content would be presented, which would also require the participants to use a different video-conferencing technology than they were used to in order to enable additional features required in a robust virtual session. The program previously designed over months, now needed to be redesigned in 4 days.
The full-day program was broken into 2-parts, spread over 2 days. And required some significant design considerations to achieve the original objectives, while maintaining audience engagement in a purely virtual format. Key components of the redesigned virtual program included:
- Core Concepts Shifted to a Pre-Read: If core concepts can be understood in a concise written format, they can be covered outside the virtual, live session.
- Video On: Video on encourages engagement, making it less easy to “multi-task”/hide
- Virtual Breakout Rooms: Similar to small table group discussions during in-person sessions. These offer an even more powerful technique in Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) sessions, as they enable an element of intimacy of discussion in a medium that is still growing on some participants.
- Polls, Whiteboards and Chat: Are all helpful tools to use to drive engagement and interactivity during the VILT. Like the use of seasoning in cooking, use appropriate amounts because too much can be a distraction.
- Dialogue not a Monologue: The time for “monologue” is in the pre-read. Create space for discussion on complex or even controversial topics.
- Expert Facilitators: Virtual platforms offer flexibility in bringing in Thought-Leaders and Global SME’s to deliver key parts of the content, at a reduced/no expense through the elimination of travel and only asking for a sliver of their time. The message can then be adapted locally by co-hosts in-region.
- Size of Audience: Keeping the sessions under 20 helps to enable richer discussion, amongst all, not just the facilitator. For large audiences, shift to a webinar – which is more one-way communication. Note: You can still increase the engagement of webinars by including polling and other large-group info gathering tools.
Mondelēz was able to hit their original launch date for the rollout. Reviews for VILT launch session were described as “engaging” and the sponsor was “delighted” with the outcome. This was a true partnership between RBL and Mondelēz resources pulling together over 4 days to deliver a nearly seamless redesign under unplanned circumstances.
More importantly, the launch has enabled the organization to position itself for continued development and focus on careers in the immediate and near-term. Sessions have continued rolling out in areas that are beginning to move beyond the full grips of COVID-19. And an only slightly shifted timeline has been enacted to accommodate those still in the steep upward curve of this challenging pandemic.
Mondelēz is committed to their customers and consumers around the world, and they demonstrate that by a continued focus on developing their colleagues.
While they started out on a path for improving existing talent processes, they unlocked something far greater: the ability to prove they can adapt, innovate, support and grow the business even in the toughest of times.