If you ask Kotahi’s HR manager, Jay Padden, which three qualities she values most in the Beyond Performance team, she doesn’t hesitate: agility, flexibility and innovation sit at the top of the fast-moving global freight company’s list.
“We have a really good, long-term relationship with Beyond Performance,” said Jay. “They would be hard to replace. Kotahi is an agile business and Beyond has the flexibility to develop programmes that suit our culture. They don’t just roll out the same thing every year for new people coming through. Clare and the team are always looking to improve on their own performance - and ours.”
Beyond Performance has delivered end-to-end learning and development programmes in partnership with the HR team at Kotahi since 2013. Over this period Kotahi has almost tripled in size, growing from 23 employees to over 60.
“From the beginning we have always had a clear strategic vision for the business,” said Jay. “But when we started out it was like turning on a fire hydrant - our first client was New Zealand’s biggest exporter during their biggest year to date.” Without a formal learning and development programme in place, responses from their initial staff engagement survey underlined a lack of investment in staff development.
“During our first year with Beyond, the goal was to create a learning and development plan that reinforced core skills and would work in a fast-moving entrepreneurial environment,” explained Jay.
The two teams worked together to develop four learning streams or pathways: Customer, Technical, People and Team, and Innovation. Two years later, Kotahi’s engagement survey results place the business among the top ten New Zealand companies in their size bracket.
“We’ve now got a development pathway for everyone,” confirmed Jay. “And the programmes delivered by Beyond Performance are consistent, carefully tailored to our needs and provide value for everyone at all levels.”
One of Beyond Performance’s strengths is that they work closely with Kotahi’s team to develop content in the right mode for each group. Most of the training is delivered through coaching, workshopping and experiential learning by internal and external subject matter experts – although there is also a self-directed e-learning component. The majority of the learning is based on real Kotahi case studies, so it can be directly applied in the workplace without the need for translation.
Staff feedback reflects the success of the learning and development pathways, according to Jay. “We have a low churn rate, but in exit interviews we often get comments like: ‘I’ve never experienced this kind of investment in me as an individual’.
Kotahi has built a stronger learning culture as a result of its partnership with Beyond Performance, and this culture is fully embedded into all business processes. “One tangible change for me is that I’m not constantly challenging managers about what they’re doing to support their people’s development,” said Jay. “Engagement in learning and development at Kotahi is a given.”
Kotahi and Beyond are about to roll out on a new Customer learning pathway. “We’ve grown big fast,” explained Jay. “Our focus is now on retaining business. Beyond Performance is bringing in some specialist B2B support to uplift our customer capability – they always provide a holistic solution-based approach.”
And that’s another way in which Kotahi see Beyond as being different from other providers. Where others tend to specialise in areas such as sales, leadership or customer training, Beyond Performance offers wide ranging, high quality programmes across a full spectrum of needs. “You don’t have to go to multiple providers,” confirmed Jay. “Beyond creates solutions that meet our actual business needs in a way that I don’t have the time to – Clare and her team have taken a lot of the pressure off me.”
“Beyond Performance offers an integrated approach that works best as a long-term partnership. It gets better the longer it goes on - and you get more than you pay for. Beyond Performance learning and development programmes have strongly underpinned Kotahi’s success as a business.”