HomeCase StudiesHow Toyota (GB) drives low attrition in marketing and sales with formalized succession planning

How Toyota (GB) drives low attrition in marketing and sales with formalized succession planning

by HRD Connect | Case Studies

Talent shortages in sales and marketing are a huge threat to an organization such as Toyota (GB). As the executive distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the UK, these two functions represent significant and mission-critical components of Toyota (GB)’s workforce. And yet, thanks to outstanding internal succession planning and a remarkable talent management strategy, Toyota (GB) is thriving.

Focusing on development from within and giving employees the ability to move laterally gives the automotive sales and marketing company a unique opportunity to stretch and spread experience across the organization.

Jessica Portman, Senior Manager, People Experience and Partnering, speaks with HRD on how Toyota (GB) has created an internal talent engine.

Under the hood: Succession planning at Toyota (GB)

To prioritize roles that are eligible for succession planning, Toyota (GB) begins by determining the true commercial impact if the role was vacant for a long period. The People and Workplace Experience team then layer the availability of the skills and candidates within the organization.

“What development would someone need to fill the role? We start to build out specific development plans and have honest conversations with people about whether they’d be interested in the position. We’d never just assume it’s something they’d want to do.”

Identifying talent

Identifying potential successors and candidates for progression requires a careful review process. Toyota (GB)’s review process is a calibration of performance, including feedback from the management level, to generate a rounded view of performance. Employees are scored against a six-competency framework including collaboration, coaching, and conscious inclusion amongst others.

People Alignment Forums then check the rating. Portman elaborates:

“We have People Alignment Forums. Each division has its own meeting. It’s important to obtain rounded feedback, as we all work in a wider team. Hence our people are encouraged to comment and give views on performance and development.

“Once we have rated an individual in terms of their competencies, the division comes together to look at the ratings and ensure it is evidence-based and share any wider feedback.

“This allows the Management team to make a change where applicable, as well as calibrate their ratings with other managers to ensure the manager has applied the review process fairly and consistently.”

Beyond this rating, Toyota (GB) has curated a potential model which it uses at all levels of the business. This gives employees a potential rating and timeline about how likely or ready they are to move to the next level. But it isn’t always about a promotion. Toyota (GB) works with each employee to develop their potential, from stretching their current role to a lateral move to a more complex role. This review process therefore not only highlights if the individual is well-placed to step into future vacant roles, but also focuses on areas for development.

Formalizing succession planning

Talent (and succession planning) is always on the agenda when Toyota (GB)’s People Business Partners meet with its senior leadership team each month. However, more formally, the succession planning process follows the annual review process. “This formalizes the next moves,” Portman notes. “We discuss who might be the right backfill. The end goal is to have a robust and clear overview of where people might be moving next and who’s been identified for any business-critical roles.”

The role of the People team is not just to facilitate this process or produce the necessary data and documents. It also adds value and challenges decisions through its knowledge of the business and its talent strategies.

Supporting succession planning with 70:20:10 development

Toyota (GB) embraces the popular 70:20:10 development framework. Employees experience 70% of learning on the job, 20% from others including through mentorship and coaching, and 10% from varied classroom learning that supports individual development plans. “We encourage all of our people before they access classroom learning, to demonstrate where the learning needs to be reflected in their development plan and the skills or knowledge they’re trying to build,” explains Portman.

Post formalized learning events, such as workshops around personalized development, Toyota (GB) encourages its people to reflect on how they have utilized the learning opportunity and built lessons into their role. Portman elaborates:

“I feel quite strongly that learning shouldn’t stop when you walk out of that session or presentation. The real work starts when you’re putting the tools into practice. We always want to develop and encourage that mentality.”

Creating a coaching culture

Alongside bite-sized learning sessions, Toyota (GB) also has a coaching culture. Toyota (GB) has 26 qualified coaches available to support and facilitate employee learning, but the responsibility sits with the coachee to organize the meeting and move actions forward. Many of the coaches are senior-level employees who embed a coaching culture within the DNA of the organization. Indeed, coaching is a part of the aforementioned competency framework and extends beyond the 26 coaches.

“Coaching is a massive element of our culture reflected in our competencies. Our qualified coaches are a very in-demand group of people, as you can imagine. These formal relationships are accessible to our new starters as we have a specific 90-day support process to make sure people land effectively in their roles. We also offer full coaching to those that are working on specific development needs.”

“But coaching for us is much wider. We include it as a module in specialist and management development programs. It’s encouraged as an approach to support and invest in others. It could be corridor coaching or any employee informally helping and developing another.”

This level of commitment and accountability, coupled with the structures around development, are critical for the success of employee learning at Toyota (GB), and ensuring employees are on the path to step into roles that become vacant.

The benefits of succession planning

“Succession planning is at the heart of our talent strategy,” begins Portman. “We want to develop the individual, encourage their thoughts about future roles, consider the skills they need to get there and develop the experience they need to support their career.”

From an employer perspective, Toyota (GB) also must consider its own skills requirements. The People and Workplace Experience team have to curate a deep understanding of job roles, the commercial impact if they were to become vacant, and a robust plan for such an eventuality. Certain skills may be harder for Toyota (GB) to source externally or are unique attributes vital to its future strategy.

Moreover, careful succession planning allows Toyota (GB) to monitor and improve the progression of minoritized groups. “Acting on data around movement trends ensures inclusivity for all,” explains Portman.

One of the secrets of Toyota (GB)’s succession planning is that it prioritizes internal employees for leadership roles. Often, this may be through lateral movement that generates generalist career paths, creating unity between business divisions.

“We have a very specific culture, one of which we’re very proud. By supporting the movement of internal talent, we often see people are effective in roles more quickly thanks to their understanding of the skills, culture, and values of our organization. They have the knowledge. We’ve got a management team that is invested in people being able to have a substantial impact.

“Some of our directors have specialist knowledge, of course. But the fact they have moved around the organization means when they sit at the board level, they have the organization’s best interests at heart, rather than divisional ownership. We see a more balanced and rounded approach.”

Continuous improvement is key to low attrition

This approach has helped keep Toyota (GB)’s attrition rates extremely low during the Great Resignation and skills shortages. Of course, there have been employees who have moved on to pastures new. The People and Workplace Experience team have used these exit processes to act on feedback and identify opportunities for change.

“It’s critical for us that people are engaged and motivated by their role. And we accept that sometimes that might not be the case. It could be the right time for people to move on. We show the same level of respect to exiting employees to those that are with us for the long haul.”

Indeed, Toyota (GB) has various alumni groups to continue relationships with employees that exit the business. Employees from its organic and emerging talent schemes may choose to move on and experience a different industry. Toyota (GB) tries to keep in touch with these employees and support them, with the intention and hopes that they may return in the future.

It has also invested heavily in emerging talent. “Toyota values emerging talent so highly as a talent input, across the organization,” explains Portman. “The investment from the business in these groups is incredible.”

“The business has designed and implemented additional placements within the graduate program so participants spend more time with our franchise partners. The program now has a One Toyota track where we rotate grads around different entities.

“The business is also clear they want different routes for emerging talent to come through. There are different routes for people coming off our student program including coordinator-level roles and apprenticeships.”

These changes have proved highly popular. Toyota (GB) won the 2023 RateMyPlacement Award for Best Medium-Sized Placement Scheme.

Toyota’s talent management: Future focus

As Toyota (GB) looks ahead to the future of its talent management strategy, and changes on the horizon, Portman emphasizes the importance of keeping DEI&B as an intentional focus:

“We want it to remain central to what we are doing. We’re looking at partner organizations that can help us with our candidate base. We’re constantly looking at our data to see how minority groups are progressing and converting through our applications.

“Not only looking at the data but asking what changes we can make internally. What can we do to push those conversion rates ahead? How can we make sure that people are progressing, and that our talent is representative of all groups?

“As the industry evolves at pace, what we need today might not be what we need tomorrow. But we are confident in the abilities and the adaptability of our people.”

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