The challenge

A precious metal mining company selected The Refinery Leadership Partners to help bring about a challenging fundamental culture shift. Through multiple acquisitions and mergers, the company had catapulted into contention as one of the world’s leading gold mining organizations. The executive team believed that to be truly successful in this new stage, the company would have to focus on growth in six key areas. Core to these strategic pillars were the company’s people—its most valuable resource, fundamental to growth in the other five identified strategic focus areas.

To bring their vision to life, they wanted to establish a unified culture where the strategic pillars became the core values of the company. The Refinery’s goal was to help the company make this happen.

The Refinery was to guide the company’s frontline employees, supervisors, and managers through various stages of professional development and cultural change. An added challenge to this leadership development initiative was the multi-national nature of the global firm. The solution would need to be delivered in English, Spanish and French, and target different levels of employees.

How we helped

With these priorities in mind, The Refinery set out to create a customized enterprise-wide solution that would develop all levels of the organization based on individual, site, and corporate talent needs.

Beginning with a thorough discovery, The Refinery studied every aspect of the organization’s talent needs, operational realities, and business objectives. Key to this was visiting the sites and meeting everyone from frontline staff to general managers to understand their day-to-day challenges and overall operational vision. The Refinery also spent time with key members of the executive team to understand how talent development supported the business strategy of the company. The Refinery combined the findings from the discovery with its extensive experience in development to build a customized solution. In fact, the goal was to build something the company could own and hold-up to the industry as a competitive
Immediate impact
The company and The Refinery decided to target the supervisory level for development first. It was believed that this group would have the most impact on the company’s culture as they interacted with both the frontline employees and management. Given the context the company’s strategy, three primary objectives for the development of this group were identified:

  • To develop advanced skill in leadership and management of the supervisor.
  • To build a common framework for leading the organization by enhancing the company’s identity; this includes building relationships and partnerships between the various geographic sites.
  • To identify the top talent at the supervisory level.

Next steps
The next development program was targeted at frontline employees. It was designed to be aligned with the supervisory development program. The goal was to build excitement, capacity and skill within frontline employee ranks. The program also acts as a stepping stone for candidates deemed promising for future advancement. To achieve maximum impact in the shortest amount of time, The Refinery developed a ‘Train the Trainer’ model where cohorts of high potential supervisor graduates, the first program, learned how to facilitate the program to their front line employees. The goals of this program were to:

  • Understand the company’s history and its business model.
  • Develop a greater sense of their role in the company.
  • Recognise how their efforts affect productivity and the financial health of the company.
  • Improve communication and interaction skill, in a way that aligned with what their supervisors were developing.

Executive development
To fully realize the company’s vision of an enterprise-wide solution The Refinery needed to then design a program to help the company’s senior management level. It was necessary to create something different than the other two programs because this would be for managers of managers, senior leaders and those demonstrating a potential for future advancement. The three objectives of this program were as follows:

  • To equip participants with a more advanced level of both leadership awareness and management skills at the organizational level.
  • To provide a culture-building experience for enhancing partnerships within and across different functions or departments.
  • To enhance the company’s identity and build a common framework for executing on the strategy of the organization.

Core to the entire solution was that the development was closely tied to the vision of the company and at the same time integrates the unique challenges and business realities within the industry.

Invaluable returns
All of the programs are based on a cohort model where participants are grouped together from across the organization. These cohorts go through their entire program together allowing participants to network, connect and learn from their colleagues. The development in all of the programs is supported by a series of deliberate practices to ensure participants are able to apply what they’ve learned. The duration and intensity of the programs provided the best opportunity for leaders to shift their behaviour.

The impact of the partnership between the company and The Refinery has produced substantial positive results. The direct monetary impact has been estimated to be over $70 million dollars to the company. However, the company and The Refinery both believe that the indirect impact of developing a workforce with a shared culture, a complete understanding of the vision and the capacity to lead others has provided a much greater return.

April 12, 2016 • in Case Studies
  • At The Refinery, we accelerate development of the leadership you need to achieve your organization’s full potential in a rapidly changing business world.


    Unlocking the keys for change: A growth strategy that builds leaders
    • by The Refinery Leadership Partners • in Case Studies


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