Career route in the system of commercial and organizational strategy of the “Hearing Academy” group


The “Hearing Academy” group is the leader of the domestic hearing care market in terms of efficiency, if only slightly inferior in geographical coverage to its older and, of course, respected rival. One of the main problems faced by all market players without exception is the lack of trained personnel, and almost the main task of each participant is to attract, train, adapt and retain hearing aid salespeople. This state of affairs is an ideal illustration for German Gref’s statement: “the goods and services competition has ended, now the business models’ competition begins”.

The Academy of Hearing company has built a literally conveyor system for training new employees. This allowed for the active opening of new centers, despite the high turnover rates that are typical for retail. However, at a certain point, the situation began to deteriorate rapidly: at first, the outflow of employees with a hire date of less than six months increased sharply, the deadlines for filling new vacancies were extended, and dropouts in the early stages of training jumped. The “fire” quickly spread to employees with experience, sales, engagement, satisfaction indicators went down, “alternative” information resources appeared, where people gave free rein to their own emotions. It was similar to a volcanic eruption in its size and rate of destruction. At some point, it began to seem that there must be more than one volcano, as the damage was already too great. In short, as promised by one of the most prominent management theorists of the 20th century Peter Drucker: culture ate strategy for breakfast.

The workgroup on finding a way out of the current situation has come up the following plan:

1) analyze the best in-house company practices;
2) analyze methods and approaches of consulting organizations.

Almost immediately the choice fell on the leader of the domestic management consulting market — Ecopsy — and their concept of the spiral dynamics of organizational development. The basics of this method were proposed in the 90s by Don Beck and Chris Cowan, who, in turn, relied on the work of psychologist Claire Graves. This concept argues that organizational units and even national formations develop along a certain route, and this path is similar to a mountain serpentine, because each new stage of development relies to a certain extent on past achievements, which allows the spiral movement.

We quickly realized that the team was at the turning point of changing two corporate cultures, and the management out of ignorance tried to manage situations using methods from two completely different organizational planes, often contradicting one another: the culture of “Rules” and the culture of “Force”. The speed at which the markets change require the constant use of force for a numerous collective living by the rules. New people coming into the culture of the “Rules” didn’t see their development in the company and couldn’t understand how they could change the company, whether the company even wanted to change. The answer on their part was simply leaving. Old employees acting within the “Rules” culture only followed the regulations, which in our business with high amount of social contacts leads to detachment, burnout, and overall reduced involvement.

The culture of “Success” was chosen as the target point for future organizational changes because the return to any of the past cultures was deemed invalid. Employees who work in this culture know that the main thing is outstanding success. The culture of success is distinguished by a high level of competitiveness. Competition similar to that in sports, maybe even the Olympics. But who exactly will become the core of the future culture?

Having analyzed the structure of the “protest”, it became obvious that informal leaders should be appointed within the official organizational structure. As a method of this change, it was decided to categorize the personnel within the same line of work and expand the areas of responsibility due to function and geography, which in itself, thanks to communication technologies, was hardly a new thing.

In parallel, performing an analysis of the best practices, we found similar solutions, but the examples were few. The main role in these cases has always been played by an experienced salesman — the “master” according to our new classification — around whom a society of caring people was sporadically forming (mostly according to geography). In this regard, it became clear that the emerging solution cannot be called purely theoretical, as it had already passed the stage of field testing.

The results of said changes were not long in coming. Yesterday’s “protest” leaders switched their energy into a constructive channel of transformation in a new organizational capacity, thereby setting a consolidating example for “wavering” employees.

There is still a lot of work ahead like obtaining financial indicators and the developed approach will most definitely change. But we already know right now what the next stage is to be and how to prepare for it, because the culture of “Success” is just the middle of the organizational development spiral.

Mikhail Siminovski, PhD (Economics), executive director, Aurica Ltd.,

Phone: 8 800 777 30 71 (toll-free in Russia!)

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