Recognizing the direct correlation between account manager turnover
and client retention, AlliedBarton Security Services's executives
commissioned a team of senior leaders to address gaps in the
leadership pipeline and focus on the strategic needs of the
company, while also taking into account these organizational
- employee population: doubled four times in 10 years
- revenues: roughly tripled during that same time
- turnover: account managers turned over at a rate that, while
better than the industry norm, did not meet AlliedBarton's high
The solution they developed was Mission Possible: Leadership Boot
Camp. The goal was to minimize the potential for turnover and
leverage the opportunity for better relationships and engagement
with employees. The boot camp was designed to help managers focus
on increasing employee engagement. Consisting of three phases and
conducted over a six month period, the boot camp also includes a
3.5 day retreat that focuses on:
- understanding the enterprise
- full inclusion
- employee engagement
- situational leadership
- extending length of service
The first cycle of the boot camp came to a close in 2006. The
response to the program was overwhelming. AlliedBarton plans to
implement modified versions for different audiences throughout the
country. The program takes 24 weeks to complete and is divided into
three distinct phases: the onramp preparation, the residential
program, and the on-the-job application phase.
The boot camp is part of an enterprise-wide leadership development
strategy. The majority of the program takes place in the employee's
own work environment, with participation spanning across the
country. However, the 3.5 day residential portion is held at a
retreat facility near the corporate office, which gives all members
of the senior executive council the opportunity to teach parts of
the program. The first boot camp cycle included 160 employees.
While the initiative was created to reduce account manager
turnover, the program turned out to be a culture changing event.
Fifteen employees - from the administrative level to the CEO - were
involved in assessing, designing, delivering, and evaluating the
boot camp experience. A comprehensive metrics and measurement plan
was created by a work group, and executives spent each night
teaching a Leaders Teaching Leaders session.
The boot camp helped increase overall business impact from
leadership development, improve leadership bench strength, increase
leader engagement and retention, and improve overall employee
The design supported development in three ways: job experience,
coaching, and learning activities. This strategy targets leaders at
various stages of their development (first line, leader of leaders,
and executive level).
"We work to segment our leader population and focus on delivering
what leaders need when they are at their time of greatest need,"
says Jim Gillece, AlliedBarton Security Services, senior vice
president of human capital management and chief people officer.
"Our strategy ensures that educational activities are consistent
across the enterprise. Leaders' learning activities focus on
developing elements that are core to any leader role, common to
every business unit, and critical to business imperatives."
The on-ramp preparation phase of the boot camps takes six weeks to
complete. It includes registration and enrollment upon an
employee's nomination by their division, a 360-degree leadership
analysis, personal coaching, and a "virtual reality" leadership
movie in which participants practice leadership principles and
skills. Additional leadership assessments are also taken to gauge
each employee's level of engagement. The multi-rater feedback
survey establishes a baseline for performance.
The residential phase lasts 3.5 days. Participants engage with
peers to build their personal execution plan. This plan is the
foundation for successfully accelerating business results by
engaging employees in a systematic process. To help make the
program interactive, challenging, and cost effective, there is
significant evening work - classes ended after 8 pm on a regular
The on-the-job application phase, which lasts 16 weeks, involves
implementing execution plans on-the-job. Key activities included
follow-up meetings with direct reports, implementing a plan to
engage employees, and completing the multi-rater survey a second
time to measure progress and improvement.
The program continues to be successful. Account manager turnover
dropped by 11 percent in the first year of the program, which
resulted in a significant financial impact. At the same time
customer retention increased almost 8 percent.
"Our company is proud to be training leaders in our industry as we
reflect on five decades of providing high quality security
services," Gillece adds. "We believe that employee engagement,
learning and leadership development are critical to our success and
the foundation of everything we do."