Strategy & LeadershipBusiness TransformationHR Distinction Spotlight: Aston Martin’s organisational transformation journey

HR Distinction Spotlight: Aston Martin's organisational transformation journey

In this week's HR Distinction Spotlight, we look at Aston Martin’s organisational journey. The global corporation set out to transform its organisational structure.

Many organisations strive to go through a transformational journey and guarantee global success. To overcome these challenges, businesses must undertake numerous changes over many years. This can heavily impact culture, talent, and strategic focus.

Through these monumental changes, HR plays a key role in maintaining and aligning a consistent experience for their workforce in times of uncertainty. This week, we look at Aston Martin’s organisational journey. The global corporation set out to transform its organisational structure.

Aston Martin’s vision is to become the greatest British car company. This is underpinned by 5 distinctive elements. The company aimed to deliver this through ‘The Aston Martin way’, a set of behaviours, tools, and processes that created values on how the people of Aston Martin worked together. The newly appointed CEO in 2014 implemented this strategy to turn the business around.

There was a need to align all levels in the business with the new plan. Therefore, the way that the workforce operated was paramount to business success. A learning plan was devised to continually improve the skills and behaviours of employees. Additionally, employee surveys were conducted to sense check the progress and highlight areas of improvement.

To enable the vision to become a reality and take a definitive step into the second century of its operation, Aston Martin needed to deliver a second-century plan.

The business plan had six distinctive workstreams:

  1. Inspire customer focused luxury products.
  2. Strengthen global brand and sales power.
  3. Deliver world-class value and processes.
  4. Onboard top-class quality talent.
  5. Solidify financing and governance.
  6. Reinvent people and culture strategies.

These strategies were led by a cross-functional team of senior management across Manufacturing, Finance, IT, Research & Development, and HR. The team was structured in line with the McKinsey influence model, with leads for each for the four areas; Understanding and Conviction, Role Modelling, Skills Required for Change, and Reinforcement Mechanisms.

The senior management team aimed to develop and implement initiatives, to effectively communicate, role model, train, and reinforce ‘The Aston Martin Way’. The benefit of a cross-functional working group enabled the workstream to operate and communicate to each area across the business.

“Skills were identified via a learning/training matrix in all areas and the implementation of a learning management system enabled e-learning for everyone, every location through any mobile device, and a time to suit the learner,” said a spokesperson from Aston Martin.

“This was endorsed by the CEO, who recorded a personal message to be viewed at each learning session, to connect what they were learning to the wider strategy. He also attended executive coaching, team building and strategic planning sessions.”

Drawing on insight from its culture and employee engagement survey, Aston Martin created new business behaviours and competencies to align with its Second-Century Plan:

  1. Collaboration.
  2. Customer Focus.
  3. Communication.
  4. Commitment.
  5. Continuously Challenge and Improve.

Systems at Aston Martin are another key element that facilitated the implementation of these initiatives. Within the last year, a global online learning management system was introduced which focused on inter-personal skills, IT skills and compliance.

To further ensure alignment and consistency across the business, Aston Martin set key objectives correlating with company goals. The onboarding experience also drastically improved. All employees now attend a face-to-face induction on their first day where they are given a corporate view and a health induction. The corporation uses this session to implement its approach to behaviour and culture.

The new appraisal has recently been automated to enable ease of use and to provide dashboard data to analyse completion and progression. Additionally, it enables employees to drive their development which links to the online learning platform, classroom-based training, and academic studies.

Aston Martin has succeeded in incorporating all of these behavioural and cultural changes into the employee cycle. Through interview questions, assessment centers, training, and team-building, the business has reinvented its culture.

The change plan initiated in 2014 has worked well and continues to progress. The ongoing quest of continuous learning and becoming a learning organisation is always a priority for Aston Martin. Adapting to external changes and being flexible around culture is paramount for the business. This is only achieved by a culture where people feel engaged and aligned with the business plan.

The global corporation hasn’t just restricted this culture to the UK – workshops have been delivered in California, Shanghai, and Frankfurt to ensure that the Aston Martin Way is truly embedded across the whole organisation despite the location or demographic.

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