Carrefour controller training

Tailor-made controller training at Carrefour

4 steps to develop an effective learning opportunity for your team:

The Carrefour training case

An effective blended learning program is beneficial for organizations and employees. It increases employee efficiency and self-independence and new employees will adjust more quickly. Trainings also have a positive influence on the employee's motivation. It has a positive impact on their self-confidence and enables them to grow throughout their career which makes them happier and more productive in return. Employee turnover will be lower and your organisation stays ahead of the competition. But choosing the right training type that answers your needs and those of your team can be quite a challenge.

We gladly share a 4 step plan to develop an effective learning opportunity for your team illustrated by the case of Carrefour.

Step 1. Identify your goals

Before organizing your training session, take a step back. What are your business goals? Do you encounter a problem that needs to be addressed? Is there a performance gap between what your team knows and what they need to know to reach those business goals? Does the proposed training address your problem? Asking yourself these questions will enable you to make the right decisions along the way. It will also increase the output of the training because you know where you’re headed.

At Carrefour Thierry Michiels (Director Business Controlling) had a clear vision of what he expected of the training for his team of Controllers: “I was not only looking for financial topics but also broader controller topics such as change management, master data and dealing with internal customers.” While identifying his goals he decided to work together with the TriFinance Business Unit MI&S. They specialize in all aspects of a controller’s job and do consulting projects in this area. “Discussing our needs, we were introduced to the Business unit MI&S. Immediately, it clicked. They clearly had hands-on experience and we were on the same page about the characteristics of a good controller.”

Step 2. Choose the type of training that fits your team

The next step is to decide what kind of training you want to offer your team. The offering in learning formats nowadays is endless: classroom-based, e-learnings, Massive Open Online Courses, mobile solutions or even virtual reality. Depending on the culture in your organization, the characteristics of your team and the business goals you’ve defined in step one, a different approach is recommended.

A lot of organizations choose classroom trainings. Combined with an offer of e-learnings and other (online) training opportunities, this can work perfectly. Blended learning enables employees to learn certain things at their own pace which can result in a higher efficiency and a more personalized learning experience. And with the current possibilities of custom trainings you can really adapt the traditional off-the-shelf classroom training to your team's needs. It might be more expensive but the return on investment will also be higher.

Carrefour chose to organize a custom made training and worked together with an external consultant to realise the training. An outside consultant has extensive business knowledge to align the training needs with the business goals. He or she has experience with developing and implementing training for different organizations.

Thierry: “MI&S already had a controller skill framework and an existing set of courses on these topics. The only thing left to do, was to insert Carrefour-specific cases. An MI&S expert and two of my senior controllers fine-tuned the whole thing and we settled on a five days training program at a rate of one day per month. We started in December and the course itself ran until April. It was nice to have the training in-house (at the Carrefour training centres) and adapted to our needs. Next to a wide range of financial topics, we looked at other things, such as retail business concepts; information management; and presenting financial data to non-specialists.”

Step 3. Make it worth while

One of the biggest challenges is to make the training specific and applicable. A lot of training sessions are too theoretical. Implementing exercises and cases is key. And even when you’ve achieved this, it’s still hard to apply this new knowledge when returning to your desk.At Carrefour the five days training program ended with a session where four groups of participants presented a business case to top management.

Thierry: “This presentation was meant to be stretching but feasible, giving them nice exposure and a taste of real controlling. The business gained a financial analysis of four major projects and I must say that management was very pleased with the high level of the meeting. These will now move to a further stage and will one day reach the actual consumer.”

By designing the program this way, Carrefour and MI&S really showed the value of the hands-on training and the results they achieved, not only to the top management but also to the participants.

Step 4. Ask for feedback

At the end of the training don’t hesitate to gather feedback. It will give you an insight on the strengths and weaknesses of the training and the overall experience of your team.

Thierry: “TriFinance brought its external look on controlling and all areas of controlling. For our people this was sometimes an eye-opener. On the other hand, the trainer realised that there was a lot of knowledge in the room and he created the space to let them interact and learn from each other. During those sessions, a lot of insight was exchanged about the different areas of our business, and personal ties were strengthened, benefiting the entire team. The overall feedback was very positive.”

Gathering relevant feedback is more than sending out a satisfaction survey. You can also check the learnings of your team both during the training as well as afterwards, by including tests, hands-on business cases or exercises for example. And last but not least, make sure to analyze whether the training had the expected outcome and helped you reach your business goals. Do you observe any changes in your team? Is your team applying the learnings from the training? Did you reach your goals? Is there a decrease in the business gap? …

Thierry: “Taking the end-to-end thinking into the business is already a huge win. Including topics like data capturing and report definitions into the project from the start helped to deliver an end result that the business can really act upon. This is important. Not the report itself counts but the action that it spurs.”

And also for Thierry himself, working together with MI&S was fruitful.

Thierry: “There already was a lot of talent on board and that has blossomed. Our controllers have an open mind and increasingly think end-to-end, for example including systems and data but also paying attention to resistance and change. That way, they can better evaluate our business projects and better assist our internal customers in avoiding different pitfalls.With regards to finance itself they were already very familiar with the P&L but they got exposed to the crucial role of working capital and cash. They now carry these messages further into the business. Their broader view and employability was my main goal and I am satisfied that we succeeded.”

Publicatiedatum: 11 January 2017