WEGMANS FOOD MARKETS KONZEPTE WEGMANS LEADERSHIP UNIVERSITY : LEADING TO NO.1 S. 35 Top management par ticipates in Wegmans Leadership University. By Tom Brady In 2001, Danny Wegman, President company located in Rochester, N.Y. In 1921, ••• and CEO of Wegmans Food Markets John and Walter Wegman purchased the Seel Inc., issued a challenge to become #1 Grocery Co. and expanded operations to in- in Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies clude general groceries and bakery operations. to Work For” list. Under the leadership of Robert Wegman, be- At the time, Wegmans was #66 and had been ginning in 1937, Wegmans has grown to a 71 on the list since its inception in 1998, when store chain in the mid-Atlantic region of the they were at their highest ranking of #16. While United States with $3.8 billion in sales 2005, many initiatives were started given that chal- up 69 percent since 1996 with 3 to 5 times the lenge, leadership development was seen as a overall margins found across the industry. key element to achieving #1 status. While Wegmans is known for its wide selection, Wegmans is a family-owned, privately-held its focus on fresh and prepared food, and WEGMANS FOOD MARKETS unparalleled customer service, more impor- quite a buzz, we orchestrated a dialogue with tantly, they have a deep-rooted philosophy that senior management describing “Level 5 Lead- employees are its greatest asset and they are ership” in Wegmans terms using The XLR8 treated as such. In return, the full-time emplo- Team’s self and 360° assessments which yees reward the company by having a turnover created the foundation for the leadership de- rate which ranges from 6 – 8 percent, less than velopment efforts through a strong foundation Bethlehem, PA is one of the half the industry average. As stated by Jo Nata- of internal and external coaching. 71 locations of Wegmans Food le, a Wegmans spokesperson: The first two leadership kick-off weeks in late Markets, Inc. 2002 began using the “XLR8 YOU!!! Becoming The late Robert Wegman with “THE WEGMANS FAMILY a Leader” process (see figure on the following his grand-daughters Colleen and ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT IN ORDER page). It has since been incorporated into Nicole, and his son Danny Weg- TO GET THE FINEST CUSTOMER Wegmans Leadership University and renamed man (left to right). S. 36 SERVICE, WE NEEDED TO PUT OUR “Excellence in Leadership” and is offered to the EMPLOYEES FIRST.” Store Manager/VP level and above. While still facilitated by XLR8 Team coaches, the leader- While employees enjoy a number of benefits ship week experience consists of a mixture of not common among their competitors, Weg- Wegmans leaders and leaders from other XLR8 mans also believes that a vast majority of emp- Team clients providing a unique leadership loyee turnover, 80% as demonstrated in some learning community. studies, is related to an unsatisfactory relation- In the words of Gary Woloszyn, 25 year veteran ship with a manager or supervisor. Store Manager at Wegmans: This prompted Danny Wegman to publish the “Who We Are Values” of respect, high stan- “I REALLY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO dards, empowerment, caring and making a dif- EXPECT, BUT IT WAS THE MOST ference in 2001 that now serves as the founda- EXCITING PROGRAM I EVER WENT tion for leadership selection and development. TO. IT WAS SO REFRESHING I Over the years, Wegmans has utilized numer- KNOW I WILL LOCK A PIECE OF IT ous external leadership development programs. AWAY FOREVER. I LOOK FORWARD In the late 1990’s, in conjunction with an out- TO SEEING TOM IN MY STORE side consultant, they began with a stand alone, SOON.” customized 360° process for middle management. The key elements of the “XLR8 YOU!!! Be- Then in early 2001, Jack DePeters, Senior VP coming a Leader” process are: for Store Operations, hired The XLR8 Team, • Top management describing leadership ex- Inc. to coach a store manager. The store cellence. manager was engaged in the “XLR8 YOU!!! • Top management enrollment, “graduation”, Becoming a Leader” process on a one-to-one and co-coaching with The XLR8 Team, Inc. basis and showed excellent progress. • Extensive pre-leadership week coaching with Since Wegmans was expanding quickly with an XLR8 Team coach building trust and rapport. relatively young and inexperienced Store Man- • A week-long kick-off workshop for self reflec- agers in their new markets, they became the tion and communal learning. initial target group. However, since the XLR8 • 12 to 15 months of ongoing coaching with Team was new to the company, time needed periodic co-coaching updates with their to be spent gaining commitment from senior supervisor. management. • A second 360° assessment to measure pro- With “Good to Great” by Jim Collins creating gress, leading to “graduation” and a coaching KONZEPTE hand-over to their supervisor. This will not only ensure that the great Weg- In 2005, Wegmans became the “#1 Company mans culture will endure and continuously im- to Work For“ in Fortune Magazine’s list of the prove, but also assist in expediting the creation “100 Best Places to Work For”. It was also of the culture that is the foundation of their named to the Fortune Magazine’s Hall of Fame reputation while expanding into new markets. for being in the Top 100 for all 8 years of the list’s existence. Danny Wegman stated: XLR8 YOU!!! Becoming a Leader “ONE OF THE REASONS WE MADE IT TO #1 IS THE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS OF TOM BRADY AND THE XLR8 TEAM!” Orientation Leadership Week Follow-up Graduation & S. 37 To date, over 90 Wegmans senior leaders have (2-3 months prior) (41⁄2 days) Coaching Continuous participated in Wegmans Leadership University’s Learning “Excellence in Leadership” process. While pri- Pre-Kickoff Attend Coaching Continue marily in store operations, senior leaders in cor- Preparation for Leadership Week Sessions Leadership porate and distribution are now enrolling. Leadership Week (4 1⁄2 days) (12- 15 months) Journey The XLR8 Team, Inc. has also worked with (6 hours) (2 – 3 months) • Enhanced Self • Share “In Search for internal Wegmans leadership to cascade Weg- • Complete Self & 360° Awareness Adventure” notebook • Complete 2nd 360° • Clarity re: Inner with raters and mans Leadership University down to middle assessments Guidance system supervisor assessments: • Review Self measure improvements (“Leadership in Action”) and entry level (“Lear- Assessments Success • Realistic assessment of leadership practices • Finalize Leadership Development Learning • Feedback from raters Discovery Process & supervisor ning to Lead”) management. Key elements of with XLR8 Coach and leadership values Plan • Update/revise • Improved coaching - 360° raters’ feed- the structure are: • Listen/read/debrief pre-work materials capabilities back Leadership Development Learning • Create “In Search for - Supervisor’s input • Describing leadership success at each level of • Gather Unique Ability Adventure” notebook • Extend learnings to Plan data • “Graduation” session the company in the Wegmans language • Partner with - Preliminary direct reports with Supervisor – Leadership - Self Assessments • Co-coaching and ongoing coaching by “ participant’s super- visor Development Plan & Success Discovery “hand-off” ongoing coaching • Creating a unique lear- coaching graduates” of higher levels of WLU ning community - Teambuilding • Recommended - Cultural Values • Use of common tools and assessments top to • Cultural Values Assessment Assessment and Development with bottom • Ongoing plan monito- ongoing coaching ring & revisions The future of Leadership Development will now • Periodic co-coa- ching sessions with focus on cultural capital development using Supervisor Richard Barrett’s “Building a Values-Driven Organization, A Whole System Approach to The XLR8 Team, Inc. Cultural Transformation”, to which I was a con- A reputation that won the acclaim of Southwest tributing editor. Airlines in the July, 2006 issue of their “Spirit” This effort has already been piloted by the Buf- magazine: falo Division through a cultural values assess- “Wegmans has earned a reputation, an almost- ment of their divisional leadership in 2003. The cultish devotion with shoppers and chances are, if success of their subsequent efforts has lead to a you have ever visited one, you’re already a fan. second pilot in the Buffalo division late in 2006 How else could you explain a regional super- that will include cultural values measurement market chain that received 8,400 love letters for each of their 14 stores. Expectations are that from 46 states last year; nearly 5,000 from this will be used throughout the organization as customers requesting, pleading, Wegmans to the primary “people” measure and leadership open a store in their town? Wegmans is showing Tom Brady will be held accountable for the results. the industry how to thrive, not just survive.” The XLR8 Team, Inc.