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HortResearch wins Auckland HR Initiative

2 December 2005

HortResearch wins Auckland HR Initiative of the Year

A HortResearch initiative aimed at developing leadership potential within the fruit science company has won the Auckland Region HR Initiative of the Year award.

The “Good to Great” leadership development programme was born out of HortResearch’s recognition that its national and international credibility depended on it transforming its “good” leaders into “great” ones.

“As a research organisation we have many people who are highly qualified experts in their areas of science but relatively few who have been exposed, in any detail, to concepts of effective leadership,” said HortResearch GM of Human Resources, Craig Jensen, at the awards presentation.

Following extensive workshops and international research, HortResearch created a leadership model with 22 competencies – and established that strengths in three or four competencies is sufficient to lift a leader’s overall effectiveness into the “great” area.

Two “Good to Great” Leadership development initiatives were created: a Senior Programme using “feed forward coaching” methodology, so called because the emphasis is on what a person needs to do in the future to develop. Leaders choose four to six people who will be their feed forward coaches and periodically ask them for two suggestions for things they could do to improve their leadership in the competencies they choose to develop.

The Team Leader programme comprises a series of modules a fortnight apart, with practical assignments between each module.

“The models of the critical leadership competencies for HortResearch now underpin both development programmes and our other HR processes, such as performance planning and review, and recruitment,” said Mr Jensen.

He said the programmes had enabled HortResearch to develop a language around leadership that “serves as a reference point for our collective behaviours and ultimately, our values and culture”.

He said over two years the company had recorded a significant improvement in personal and leadership effectiveness and in the morale of staff whose leaders have participated in the programmes.

Three quarters of the 360 surveys administered at the 6 to 9 month point for the Senior Programme reported an improvement in the person's leadership effectiveness. Twelve months after the start of the Team Leader programme leaders rated with 3 or more strengths increased from 31% to 50%.

There has also been a marked improvement in a number of other organisational measures. For instance, the number of disengaged employees has dropped from 29% to 13%, and voluntary employee turnover is down from 8.7% in December 2003 to 4.6% in July 2005.

The HortResearch initiative now advances to the national HR Initiative of the Year Award finals in February 2006.


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