Sherry Laboratories Achieves First-year ROI by Developing Leadership Skills in Technical Supervisors (Engineers, Chemists, and Biologists)

supervisor adjusting scientific testing equipment

Highlights: Sherry Laboratories

Need

  • Train white-collar technical professionals who were promoted into supervisory positions.
  • Turn engineers, chemists, and biologists into excellent supervisors and leaders.
  • In-house training that can be done in short sessions and is reinforced.
  • Deliver the same consistent message at locations in three states.
  • Short modules focused on 23 key ideas.
  • Tools to apply skills back on the job.
  • Opportunity for supervisors to facilitate group sessions.
  • No train-the-trainer certification requirement.
  • Limited travel by the training department staff.

Implementation

  • Audience – Technical managers.
  • Curriculum The Leadership Journey
  • Delivery – Labs held group training sessions twice a month during the lunch hour.
  • Facilitation – HR delivered the first course. Supervisors took turns facilitating the remaining sessions.
  • Discussion – During group training sessions.
  • Application – Two weeks to apply personal action plans before the next course.
  • Follow-up – Team accountability during group training. Some lab directors also met with supervisors to review action plans.

Results

  • Supervisors gained confidence in their ability to lead their teams.
  • Management and leadership skills improved.
  • Behavior changed.
  • New management skills were applied and retained.
  • Achieved ROI in the first year.
  • Improved lab efficiency was directly correlated to supervisory training.
  • More productive team meetings.
  • Based on the success of The Leadership Journey, it was expanded to all levels of leadership.

The Company

Developing Leadership Skills in Technical Professionals Who Are Also Supervisors

It’s not uncommon for new clients to come to Business Training Experts after not achieving the results they had hoped for through local technical or community college offerings. They’re often frustrated, unhappy, and somewhat skeptical about training.

That was certainly the case with Sherry Laboratories after sending several supervisors through a college-based program that failed to achieve desired results.

A Global Provider of Testing, Inspection, and Certification Services

Sherry Laboratories is a global provider of testing, inspection, and certification services for a wide range of materials and products in sectors where “failure in service is not an option.” The company exists to ensure that the materials and products they test, inspect, certify, and calibrate for customers are always safe, high quality, compliant, and fit for purpose.

What Sherry Laboratories delivers to customers is certainty—the certainty that their products meet rigid safety and production requirements. These products include the latest innovations within the emerging autonomous vehicles sector as well as the smallest medical implants and the latest digital and wireless communications devices.

The Challenge

Improving Supervisory Skills of Technical Professionals Who Were Promoted into Leadership Positions

Sherry Laboratories’ staff consists of white-collar technical professionals. Their job skills often result in their being identified as potential leaders, and they’re promoted into supervisor and management roles. However, most have no actual supervisory training or leadership experience.

These young supervisors are excellent in their fields—chemists, biologists, engineers, etc.—but not skilled at managing others.

Sherry Laboratories wasn’t new to providing leadership training opportunities for supervisors. In fact, several supervisors had recently completed a class at the local college that was paid for through a state grant.

Unfortunately, the seminar-style classroom format the college followed wasn’t a good fit for the company’s staff and culture, even though most supervisors held advanced degrees. They finished the coursework, but there was no transfer of learning back to the work environment and no improvement or change in behavior.

The experience was frustrating. Although a grant covered the out-of-pocket costs, the company had to pull people off the job for long periods of time to participate in training. Grant paperwork was burdensome requiring more commitment from HR staff. And trainees were left with a bad taste in their mouths about the idea of leadership training.

Still, helping supervisors and managers, especially those new to their roles, develop the skills needed to successfully manage others was a top priority and not something that could be overlooked or left to chance.

The company decided to pursue a different option. That pursuit led them to Business Training Experts and The Leadership Journey.

“The modules are short, precise and are taught in a way people can remember what they have learned. The information is timeless.”

Lisa Alexander, Director of Training and Development, Sherry Laboratories

The Leadership Journey™

Holding Leaders Accountable for Learning and Applying Practical How-to Leadership Skills

The Leadership Journey is a customizable turnkey training program available for in-house group or self-paced learning. This series of short courses is designed to help supervisors develop and sustain 10 core leadership skills.

Unlike other one-time training events or courses, The Leadership Journey uses a proprietary burst learning model to teach supervisors practical how-to skills they can apply on the job to solve real workplace challenges.

The program proved to be a great fit for approximately 20 supervisors working and leading staff at multiple facilities. The Leadership Journey was practical, hands-on, and offered in short segments. It provided an opportunity for supervisors and HR staff to serve as facilitators. Supervisors took turns leading sessions which involved managing group discussions and making sure sessions finished on time.

The program rollout was strategic and well-planned. It involved:

  • The CEO introducing the program at quarterly meetings at each location.
  • The VP of HR running the first session and then turning facilitation over to supervisors. This pushed some supervisors to move out of their comfort zones and gain experience with leading their peers.
  • Variation between labs based on each lab’s unique needs. For instance, two of the labs did training twice a month over the lunch hour. Another lab met early in the morning over coffee.

laboratory technician recording data

Focusing on only 23 key skills in each session allowed supervisors to think about and implement ideas back on the job, leading them to see real results quickly.

Supervisors’ facilitation experience also provided them with hands-on practice managing conversations and generating feedback from quieter participants, while controlling those who might otherwise monopolize conversations.

The real-world applicability and experiences offered through The Leadership Journey achieved the results the company—and its supervisors—were looking for.

The Results

Bottom-line Improvements Resulting from Changed Behavior

After a failed experience with a local college that offered leadership training, Sherry Laboratories was understandably concerned about whether they would be able to achieve real results with The Leadership Journey. Following the training, though, they reached a rare consensus: the training really worked!

It worked in a way that was felt by the supervisors and their direct reports. Even the CEO saw a direct connection between improving supervisors’ skills and stronger ROI. That’s the kind of bottom-line impact that matters most to organizations in every industry.

Based on the results achieved, the company continued the program with other staff members who want to develop their leadership skills. They’ve recognized the importance of building bench strength among existing and future leaders.

At Sherry Laboratories, failure in service is not an option whether serving customers or staff. Through The Leadership Journey, both new and seasoned supervisors have gained confidence in their ability to effectively serve in a management role. The company has gained confidence in them as well.


The Leadership Journey was a great investment for Sherry Laboratories. I would highly recommend the program and Business Training Experts to other organizations.”

Lisa Alexander, Director of Training and Development, Sherry Laboratories

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