The COVID-19 pandemic began amid ongoing business transformation and organizational restructuring at WarnerMedia, further accelerating the need for leaders to support their teams with pragmatism, empathy, and a focus on driving business results.
WarnerMedia sought to prepare frontline managers to support employees through extended hybrid work and changing business priorities. No such program existed in a virtual format, and my team was given less than six months to design, market, and launch a new global program to more than 5,000 frontline managers.
In September 2021, with a strong focus on creating learning experiences that drive business results, we successfully launched Management Essentials: a scalable global leadership program that won a 2022 Silver Brandon Hall Award. Here’s how we did it.
Management Essentials is a programmatic experience designed to equip managers with foundational skills for effective leadership. Participants include frontline managers with no formal training and managers looking to refresh their skills. The 11-week global experience connects participants with peers, provides support for them to thrive amid change, and equips leaders to support diverse teams. Fast-paced webinars with chats, polls, and Q&As keep energy high and learning focused on where participants need support.
To make Management Essentials a meaningful virtual experience, we took a blended learning approach and identified areas in the virtual experience for enhanced connection. For example, participants can complete e-workouts (on-demand, supplementary e-learning) to build muscle in complementary skill areas, as well as attend optional 75-minute learning labs to dive deeper into key concepts through case studies, discussions, and exercises in small groups with peers.
Participants begin the program with a self-assessment and facilitated learning session to better understand communication styles for effective team collaboration. Each week requires less than two hours of participants’ time. This empowers leaders to engage when they can and supports learning on the job. To meet demand and interest in Latin America, we successfully delivered region-specific translations of the program in Spanish and Portuguese, as well as a region-specific version in the Asia-Pacific region with in-region facilitators for all programs.
Our agile, iterative approach enabled us to launch Management Essentials in six months by creating a just-in-time solution that addresses emerging business needs. The program’s relevance drove demand for wide-scale adoption, and we embraced the power of cross-team expertise, external partners, and quick iteration to scale the program. We also found ways to repurpose components of Management Essentials for broader learning, such as making an e-workout on giving and receiving feedback available throughout the performance management process.
Through Management Essentials, a new generation of leaders is emerging at WarnerMedia. So far, more than 2,100 managers enterprise wide have completed the program. More than 80 percent of frontline managers say that it effectively helped them manage direct reports and increased their understanding of how to effectively engage teams.
I now see learning (and the work we do to prepare learners) through a different lens. Change is the only constant. Whether your work has shifted because of a global pandemic, business transformation, or something else, bring your new way of working into the future. My team isn’t going back to how we did learning previously, even as people return to the office. We’ll continue to lean into new possibilities because of this program. I hope our work inspires others to do the same.
Want to create human-centered experiences that help employees reach their full potential? Join us for EXLEARN 2022. Register here: pheedloop.com/exlearn2022/site/home.