A Coaching Leadership Style for Rapid Success

Nandos-logoThe Client: Nando’s is an international restaurant chain founded in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1987. It operates about 1,000 outlets in 30 countries.

The Goal: Design a talent management programme based on a coaching leadership style to improve delegation skills, grow responsibility and increase the proportion of managers promoted from within the Nando’s business.

The Challenge: Support rapid expansion without losing unique company culture.

By the end of 2001, Nando’s had 40 outlets and planned to open 20 restaurants every year until 2005. With strong family values, they didn’t want to become a large, faceless chain of restaurants.

Needs and Objectives

In expanding so rapidly from a small company to a large one, Nando’s wanted to save money and maintain its ‘family’ culture. To achieve this, it was important to:

  • Maintain the Nando’s values of pride, passion, courage, integrity and family
  • Upskill Area Managers to delegate day-to-day management issues successfully so they could go from managing 6 restaurants to managing 10
  • Increase the proportion of its managers promoted from within the business (in 2001, only 21% of managers had been promoted from within)

Performance Consultants’ Approach

Nando’s decided that the answer to its talent management challenges would be to build coaching skills within the organization. So, in 2001 it invited Performance Consultants to design an in-house talent management programme for all their managers:

  • Stage 1 | programme introduction: inspiration from coaching pioneer Sir John Whitmore
  • Stage 2 | developing coaching skills: 2-day coaching training programme for all Managers and Area Managers (including the GROW Model, leadership foundations, and concept of the ‘one-minute-manager’)
  • Stage 3 | John Whitmore’s advanced leadership sessions: 4-day programme for all company Directors and Area Managers

“Everyone was excited by the [coaching] principle, but when it came down to giving up time for this, we did encounter some resistance… We’re in such a busy industry that it’s not surprising. We had to work hard to make everyone understand that coaching is not a time-consuming activity. It’s all about empowering others to find their own solutions. We’re also trying to move away from coaching as a label. We want managers to coach as an instinctive reaction, not as a conscious decision.”
Marcelo Borges, Learning and Development Manager, Nando’s

The Outcome

The managers were all really enthusiastic when they went back to their branches, ready to implement it right away. Louise Agran, Marketing Director at Nando’s attended one of the early courses run by John Whitmore. Louise introduced a coaching style of management to the marketing department as soon as she returned:

“I was blown away by the approach. It makes much more sense to encourage team members to take responsibility. You can only get so far by being directive… People enjoy their jobs more now. They know what they’re doing and are ultimately more effective. I’d like to send more of my staff on these courses.”

Nando’s currently operates about 1,000 outlets in 30 countries around the world. Nando’s was named the Best Large Company to work for in the UK, most likely because it still holds its family values strongly at its heart:

“Nando’s is not just about the chicken. It’s never been just about the chicken. It’s about the people who make the chicken.”

Read the secret to Nando’s talent management success in the full case study: ‘Nando’s Spices up its Leadership Style’ in Personnel Today.

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