Sales Enablement PRO Awards 2021: Delivering Impactful Coaching at Workday

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Congratulations to Sales Enablement PRO Award winners from Workday. Learn more about the Coaching award winning initiative below.

What was the challenge you were facing?

John Dougan: My name is John Dougan. I’m the global director for sales delivery and coaching for Workday. Essentially that means I look after any sales training, any coaching and any change management initiatives where we have to really convince our audience of the change that’s happening. So maybe the sales guys for sales enablement, if you want a descriptor. I’ve been with Workday three and a half years now. Prior to that, I was a consultant for a variety of different companies, including SalesITV in the sales technology space. And then on the profiling side, I’ve actually done a little bit of work with an organization called Profiling Online around how do you evaluate the capabilities, the competencies and behaviors of sales leaders, which probably was the biggest conduit into my passion for leadership mindset development.

We have world-class pockets of coaching that exists to skillset and to activity. In fact, many organizations, ourselves included, spend a lot of time investing in them. How do we turn them into an extraction coaching capability rather than just a telling piece in the essence of what true coaching is? So that’s one of the problems that existed. Outside of that, you’ve got the idea that many coaching efforts are not scalable, not repeatable because some people don’t buy into them. Normally when they are based on skillset and activity, they’re over engineered towards the process. That was part of the organization. As we’ve seen a massive shift in the role of enablement, we’ve seen the rise of sales operations through the data that they hold. There’s sometimes an idea that sales operations can on occasion be a little bit tone deaf to what sellers and sales leaders want.

We wanted to design something that solved that challenge, and that’s what Level Up is. Ultimately all leaders kind of have either a positive or a negative view on what comes down the supply chain over enablement and operations. This was a way of really looking up what is contextual, relevant and applicable for them today on the idea of starting this back when we did almost a year and a half ago, when COVID came, it presented a challenge of the mindset of sellers. In fact, the mindset of everybody was challenged based on a lot of the changes that people were having to handle. So that was the next evolution of the problem that it solved. And if anything that has just amplified its efficacy over the last year.

What was the process of developing this initiative?

JD: The process of creating it was a lot of reading books, right? I would probably put three as the flagships for what we did structurally. There’s a book by Ben Hunt-Davis, the Olympian, called What Will Make The Boat Go Faster? That was one. Then there was Legacy, which is about winning this team in professional sport and how character commitment capability plays a huge part of what makes people successful. And how does a leader and you can lead by example. The last book was It Takes What It Takes, which is a book on mindset specifically neutral thinking and the illusion of choice, which is written by a gentleman called Trevor Moawad. He has been heralded by Sports Illustrated as the world’s greatest Breon trainer. So we read all those books and then we came up with our own framework for what good mindset coaching would look like.

I used the word mindset, performance mindset specifically. That is the self-awareness of our leaders around those three areas of character commitment capability, and then their capacity to understand how the choices they make impact other people specifically their organizations, because we’re focused on second line monitors so that we can cascade the capability down into the frontline leaders and they influence an entire organization. That’s what it looks like. I call it the avocado in the onion because inside it starts with character. What do you want, why do you want it, then it moves into your commitment. So what are you willing to do in order to get there? Then your capability, where do you need to grow and develop in order to achieve what you want to achieve? And then how do you understand that for everybody in your team so that you can amplify that message across different areas? So goal setting, motivation, understanding beliefs and emotions, how to get things done, how to build momentum, and how to handle change, which has also been really pertinent in this environment we’re living in today.

How was the rollout and adoption of the new initiative?

JD: So that’s what the coaching program itself looks like. In terms of how we rolled it out, we did a pilot, right? We wanted to test whether or not we could effectively help our leaders self-actualize their goals, whether or not we can help influence sentiment across their entire organization. So everybody that has a reporting line up to that RVP leader and then we want to dilute its contribution to the amount of people within an organization through a team quota on the actual performance of that region in and of itself. As a program, it’s done on a one-to-one level in terms of the personal performance mindset coaching. On the basis that we have created a blueprint and a framework for sales leaders that they can then use with their manager.

So by targeting the RVPs, we want you to have a much smaller, controlled audience. Then we measure the efficacy of their ability to then coach their leaders beneath them, therefore influencing the entire org at a global level. So the format for coaching in that sense was,I can’t explain the outer layer of the onion, but it’s a one-on-one call done on a monthly basis over a six month period. Starts with an awareness call, which is exploring character commitment capability, then it looks at your capacity individually to understand goal setting, motivation, emotions, beliefs. At an organizational level then to lift out higher vision, mission and values. Then the idea is that it gives enablement a proactive way on those calls, conversations with leaders, where we’re coaching them to the three areas of self-actualizing their goals, influencing the mindset on the sentiment of their org and then attaining better results.

It gives us an opportunity to then proactively look up well where in these areas does your organization need the most help? So as a result of the level of coaching program, one-to-one conversations, the rule where the rubber has met the road has really been in our insertion into QPRs, our capacity to run coaching conversations, coaching clinics for their entire organization based on bringing people along. That’s been really pertinent over the last year. It’s really helped. So it’s worth knowing that one of the ancillary aspects to our ability to measure the efficacy has been the fact that Workday is exceptional at really keeping a pulse on its employee sentiment. And as you would expect, employee sentiment, I’m pretty sure across the globe has suffered as a consequence of COVID and just the changing landscape that people existed.

What are some of the business results and impact as a result of your efforts?

JD: The first area that we were really able to hone in on is we took a Workday survey that comes out every Friday. So it’s a series of questions that every person in the organization gets on their leader. We were able to aggregate all of the data points and all of the reader statements that were within that and then apply it to the outer layer. So goals through beliefs and emotions right through to humbling change, building momentum. We were able to aggregate the rating statements through that and then give each person an organizational score. And then we were able to track the movement for each of those areas based on what we focused on for the leader. So for example, if you focused on vision, mission, and values, we’re able to give you a score as to whether or not your organizational sentiment has improved against those three areas. Now, the incredible thing is when we take all the reader statements, naturally there’s been a decline in the employee sentiment across the entire org, but actually all of those RVPs who went through the program had an increase against up providing a 10 point Delta, which is absolutely huge for those who are analyzing data.

That’s a big swing in terms of influencing performance mindset of your entire board. So that’s one element we measured. Then of course we measured in feedback the ability for those seals leaders to recognize their goals. So there were milestone check-ins and how they were progressing. And then they were given feedback at the end of the program as to whether or not they achieved the personal professional goal that they set, whether or not that was an outcome goal that they were focused on or some of the process goals that contributed to it. And the third area, which is incredible, is that when you take all of those leading indicators, you get to the end and you go, “well, didn’t we influence performance.” The fact is that we did. The highest performing organizations had an RVP who was in the Level Up program.

There are also some extras that have come of it that we didn’t set out to find them. And have just been a bonus, but there’s also been those people have been able to create more leaders. So there’s been more promotions in those, from those RDPs reporting lines than those outside of it. So we were able to compare those who had gone through the program to those who hadn’t done the initial pilot. Now we’re tracking the efficacy across the board, which everything has been trending positively. Let’s say we’re incredibly grateful to receive an award like this. We love what we do and we love the people we do it with. Thenneed the capacity to be successful in this has only been there because our leaders have shared the exact same growth mindset that we have as an enablement function. So I’m grateful to everybody who’s been involved. I mentioned a couple of people. We had Karl Jarett within the organization. We have had Tim Ohai who has been incredible as part of our planning and solution definition paste, broad catalog and who has worked on the instructional design, making the experience world-class. And then Justin Burney who’s worked on our impact analysis structurally as an enabling function, that’s our supply chain, right? So every single component of enablement and we have a really large team or work, they have touched this. And as a result, we’ve been able to produce something brilliant which we are eternally grateful that has been recognized by you guys at Sales Enablement PRO. We’re very thankful that you recognize this in this way.

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