Leadership Team Alignment
L’Oréal is the parent company of Redken USA, which was led by Pat Parenty from 1999-2010. While he was head of Redken, Parenty was able to cascade the horizontal, high-performance team model all the way down through the company, with amazing results.
When L’Oréal bought Redken USA in 1993, the brand had slipped from number one in hair-color sales to number three or four. L’Oréal brought in a new management team, made up of a senior vice president and a number of vice presidents. Four years later, despite a raft of initiatives, not much had changed in terms of Redken’s overall market position and bottom line. In 1997, Redken’s top team had had enough. It decided to make a radical shift to the high-performance model.
Immediately after the senior team went through an alignment session, things began to change for the better. When the SVP retired, Parenty took over the reins. The team was on its way to becoming a high-performing entity. But a great senior team does not a great organization make, which is why Parenty and his team decided to align with the second tier: the company’s 25 directors. The senior team carefully laid the groundwork, explaining the model and role-modeling high-performance behavior. After the alignment, the directors were provided with the critical leadership, conflict management, and influencing skills required for them to play at new, high-performing levels.
As a result, the senior team and the directors began to work together more seamlessly. Collaboration improved. Respective roles and responsibilities were clarified, rooting out overlaps and redundancies. Underground behavior became a thing of the past. Decisions between the two tiers were made faster and more effectively. In the next multi-tier, the 100 or so managers who reported to the directors were included. The process was repeated until all managers and field personnel were included in an all-encompassing alignment session.
What were the results? Here’s the scorecard:
By 2007, Redken had achieved 10 years of double-digit sales and profit growth—a record no other hair care company has matched in the last decade.
Roles and responsibilities have become clearly delineated, eliminating interdepartmental tugs of war. Example: Education and Sales once worked at cross-purposes; there was no clear agreement about who did what to one another—or to the customer. Today, the confusion is gone; both functions work hand in glove, presenting customers with a powerful and integrated sales-education approach.
People no longer hesitate to admit a mistake. “In this model,” says Parenty, “you depersonalize; you don’t attach the issue to a person. . . . Because there are no repercussions, it makes it easier for the issue to be resolved.”
Teams throughout the organization attack the priorities—those that come from the business strategy. If the marketing team is considering launching a program to find new users, the opening question is, “Is that within our business strategy?” If “yes,” the team moves quickly to the next level of discussion and proceeds just as quickly to determine who is responsible for each area, how much responsibility the full team, a subteam, and/or individuals will have for resolution. Implementation follows quickly.
Ask Redken customers about a new offer—a new hair care product, for example—from the company and you’ll be amazed at how well informed they are. Salon owners know whom the program is targeted to, what they need to do to execute it, what Redken’s support will be, what their role will be, what the costs will be, etc. They understand the logic behind what is being done. “You wouldn’t get that same clarity from another company,” says Parenty proudly.