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‘It’s Real and Happening Here’: Building a Culture of Learning at Sally Beauty

July 18, 2017, Yvette Birlew - Learn how Sally Beauty rolled out their LMS platform in a high-energy campaign that brought immediate success, sailing past their initial adoption goals.
Tags: Learning
‘It’s Real and Happening Here’: Building a Culture of Learning at Sally Beauty

When we launched our learning and development platform for Sally Beauty corporate employees earlier this year, our goals were modest: we projected 20 percent of our corporate colleagues would complete one course within 12 months.

Watch: Yvette Birlew on the recent Saba webinar, “How Sally Beauty Is Using Technology to Move the Needle on Employee Engagement.” 

Eighteen days after the launch of the new “Thrive” learning platform, our corporate employees blew past that goal with 23 percent of people completing a course. A few months later, the adoption rate has soared past 50 percent.

What we’re finding is that people are eager to learn. Everything in the workplace changes so rapidly, and professionals are aware that if you’re not learning something new—new skills, leadership abilities, professional development—then you are not moving forward.

Setting the Stage for Learning Success

For Thrive to be successful, our executive leadership knew that they would have to help create change in a corporate learning culture that was previously operationally focused. We are in the process of transforming from a traditional operational culture to one where people have the opportunity to grow and learn in a very collaborative way.

The Learning and Development team developed Thrive around one of our six “Culture of Can Do” values called “Talent Builders.” As Talent Builders, we want to empower employees to learn, grow and add valuable skills that align with business goals.

We set out to really understand this question: how do we transform our culture into talent building? We weren’t replacing an existing LMS, so from the beginning, our mission was making sure that our people understood they could use the Thrive platform to grow into what they wanted to be as professionals. We knew that when our employees grow and develop, Sally Beauty succeeds.

A Competitive Race for Talent

To add another layer of complexity to our cultural transformation, our organization’s corporate headquarters is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, part of the region Forbes just named to the top of the “best cities for jobs for 2017” list. So, competition for professionals is intense. With global companies such as Toyota and Boeing setting up shop in the DFW area, keeping the same status quo with Sally Beauty’s learning culture was not an option.

Getting Employees on Board and Excited

To build support and increase adoption of Thrive, we created high-quality videos in-house that showed the platform in action. We put up posters around headquarters. And when it was launch week, each employee arrived at work to find the gift of a little green box with a pair of earbuds and a plant growing kit inside.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Sally Beauty partnered with to provide more than 300 learning courses from well-known experts including leadership, software skills and customer service. The appetite for leadership courses surprised (and delighted) my team. Our colleagues are very interested in increasing their leadership skills, and we are thrilled to assist them. Many employees without direct reports selected leadership skills courses. We’re preparing our future leaders!

We have specific teams, such as Customer Service and Distribution, selecting and taking three courses each quarter and then meeting to discuss what they learned. In situations like these, our leaders are really stepping up and creating a culture of learning for their teams.

I’ve been in L&D for 17 years, and it’s so exciting to see a cultural transformation. It’s possible. It’s real and it’s happening here. Our leadership is embracing our talent building efforts. We hope all employees believe that we want to help them grow and that we want to help give them a brighter future. At the end of the day, that’s very powerful.

Editor's note: It was our pleasure to welcome Yvette to the recent Saba webinar, “How Sally Beauty is Using Technology to Move the Needle on Employee Engagement.” Watch on demand now!

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