Investing in long-term training can boost business growth

TJ explores the training programmes helping Coca-Cola to build a highly capable organisation and become the employer of choice.

How do you train your employees? Effective training and leadership development is key to the performance and success of thousands of corporate companies around the world, impacting both short- and long-term operations.
Here, we take an inside look at the training programmes that help to ensure that Coca-Cola is always available in shops, bars and restaurants across the Middle East. 
The Coca-Cola Company’s bottle division, Coca-Cola İçecek (CCI) is the fifth-largest bottler in the global Coca-Cola system in terms of sales volume and it produces, distributes and sells its sparkling and still beverages across Turkey, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Tajikistan.
CCI employs more than 10,000 people and has a total of 25 plants bottling the company’s range of soft drinks to more than 370 million people. 
Forum Corporation, a global specialist in leadership development training solutions ( has worked with CCI to design and implement an employee training and leadership development programme across its business units in the Middle East.
CCI focuses on two main goals for people and organisational leadership — building  a highly capable organisation and being the employer of choice. With leadership development at the heart of achieving CCI’s vision.
Being the outstanding beverage company leading the market, inspiring people, adding value through excellence — it continually invests in people development, creating targets defined and based on both business needs and individual development areas, while leadership capabilities are identified to prepare its leaders for the future.
CCI sees training as an ongoing goal for all employees supported by three elements:
Leadership Development (to help create a leadership culture and develop leadership capabilities and skill sets for the future). 
Strategic Functional (based on a core curriculum at a business and behavioural level) 
Behavioural Development Programmes (to foster skills needing additional development determined by a performance management process and based on 360-degree evaluation results). 
As with any organisation, staff training takes valuable time and of course staff may leave at any time and take their skills with them. A CCI spokesperson says: “However, long an employee stays with us, investment in people is vital for sustaining our performance, innovation and productivity growth and for maintaining our talent pipeline — but it can also help us to be an Employer of Choice.
“Development solutions are based on clearly defining the need and identifying the target audience. Instead of planning for everyone to attend every programme in the curriculum, different segments are created according to needs and levels of experience. This makes sure the training is tailored to employees’ needs.”
New employees’ training
Everyone who joins CCI as a new member goes through its CCI Orientation Programme, a digital game-based learning solution that provides essential knowledge through fun. After completion of their digital session each new joiner makes plant and market visits to ensure they know the basics of CCI’s business and processes. 
Functional Development Programmes come into play after the orientation which are programmes specific to the person’s role. For example, the HR Capability Development Programme broadens the HR team’s perspective on business, develops functional capabilities by using consultancy skills to link business needs with HR knowledge. A Supply Chain Capability Development
Programme builds the capabilities of the Supply Chain team across all CCI countries to strengthen succession of critical positions and develop future Supply Chain leaders. 
A Finance Leaders’ Programme assists in the development of financial skills and leverages financial knowledge to improve business vision, while a Sales Force Capability Development Programme is an intensive four-week learning experience linking knowledge, experience and sales execution and covers a range of topics related to CCI’s approach to sales systems and core methodologies through interactive sessions and on-the-job training. 
Members of the leadership team attend programmes relevant to the Leadership Development Path. For example, for a team leader who has not yet reached the supervisor level, there is Supervisor-on-Board, a tailor-made programme for first line supervisors to improve fundamental team management skills, broaden their knowledge of CCI’s HR policies and increase their overall understanding of the business. 
Alternatively, for a newly hired manager, there is the Manager-on-Board providing new managers with management skills such as leading self, leading teams, improving coaching style leadership, and experiencing CCI HR practices.
More experienced leaders join the iLead2020 Programme, a customised learning experience based on individual leadership strengths which also focuses on building high-performing teams and driving team accountability to deliver business results. Action learning team projects, one-on-one coaching and peer coaching are all used to help transform the learning experiences into real life practices. 
iLead2020 is now CCI’s flagship programme, receiving a CUBIC Award from the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC) in the Learning Leader of the Year category last year and this year an Excellence in Practice award from the Association for Talent Development (ATD), which is considered to be the world’s most accredited institution in talent development since 1944. 
All newly appointed general managers (GMs), join CCI’s Accelerated GM Integration Programme within their first 90 days to help build credibility from day one, focus on the right priorities from the start, leverage an understanding of the culture, take better decisions and deliver early wins within their first six months. For all managers, their role, level of business experience and level of leadership ability determines the future direction of their training programme.
Individual responsibility
Adds the spokesperson: “All CCI employees are encouraged to take responsibility for their own development. This is conducted in line with performance review meetings and potential evaluation sessions are tracked on a web-based learning management system. Development activities are identified for employees in these sessions including discussions on reasons of the development actions. 
“Cost, duration and methodology change according to the programme. For example, the on-the-job Supply Chain Capability Programme takes three months, while the iLead2020 takes nine months across four different modules. All training is matched to need, type of employee and their development solution. 
What is the payback for CCI?
The spokesperson continues: “Engagement score is an important indicator on the intangible benefits of our training. We currently have an engagement score of 81 and a methodology that allows our results to be compared with other high-performing companies worldwide as well as those within the Coca-Cola system.
“There are also tangible paybacks which can be measured by certain tools, such as pre- and post-tests, 360-degree feedbacks, performance development meetings, or action learning projects. With these tools the difference between the pre-programme and post-programme results can easily be measured. For example, for functional development solutions, pre- and post-tests clearly show the difference between the levels of knowledge. For leadership development, pre- and post-360-degree feedbacks give the change in leadership capabilities. 
“With performance development, action learning projects are often used because these projects are done during the period of the training and the results are directly related to business needs and all based on real-time, real-business cases.”
Long term training
CCI’s iLead2020 programme also uses some unusual techniques. The nine-month Action Learning projects are based on real-time, real-business cases, so all participants are expected to work on projects that will impact positively on CCI’s business. While its structure allows real-life experience, it also gives the participants the opportunity to practice their learning for a period of nine months, with this practice important to convert knowledge into habit.
The Supply Chain Capability Development is another good example of long term training. Employees receive on-the-job training in developed plants, with each employee then having to create their own project to take back to their own plant.
Providing on-the-job training for employees across different regions ‘being one team’ also creates an environment for CCI talents from different countries, where employees get to know each other, build up networks and share their knowledge and experiences.
E-learning provides an effective tool to teach ad-hoc business concepts such as brand ambassadorship, information security, competition law and operational excellence. 
Local capability development is a priority with Learning centres in Pakistan providing state-of-the-art learning facilities for the diverse needs of the business.
These facilities deliver a wide spectrum of development solutions to employees from technical training such as maintenance, to soft skills such as diversity training. 
The future training landscape
There is always room for improvement in measuring the effectiveness of training and leadership programmes on behavioural changes and business results, despite the number of measurement tools.
CCI is aiming to increasingly create an environment where employees take responsibility for their own development, while addressing the challenge of personal commitment, time and effort. It is also focusing on offering more technology-based learning solutions specifically for its youngest and future generations of employees who have been used to this type of learning since childhood. 

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