French department store chain, Galeries Lafayette, contacted CrossKnowledge to help developing a collaborating platform in order to connect top managers across the group’s subsidiaries. The solution was The Link which has grown, after a successful pilot phase, into an indispensable resource for a group-wide community of managers who use it to connect with each other, exchange ideas and strengthen the group’s management culture.Galeries Lafayette has 120 years of experience in the retail business and is the flagship organization in a group of approximately 60 retail establishments. The group is home to other brands including BHV, Louis Pion and Royal, as well as approximately 50 jewelry shops under the Didier Guérin brand, and employs approximately 14,000 people.
Piloting the solution
Marie-Hélène Plainfossé, Director of Skills and Sustainable Development, was searching for a way to bring managers from different sectors together. Although digital transformation was already a core focus for group’s executive, she felt that the management culture was not mature enough to handle a sudden change. “When I came on board, I wanted to establish a collaborative platform for upper management and directors. I had to find a way to rapidly deploy a solution that was a complete departure from the existing system” she explained.
To achieve this, she called on CrossKnowledge to adapt its community portal solution to the needs of the group. A few weeks later, The Link was born. This online space hosted hundreds of videos from experts and directors, and was designed to support managers in their work by giving them access to advice and best practice guidance from leaders in their field. Initially, The Link fostered exchange within a community of the top 150 managers in the Galeries Lafayette group. “This first effort really got the ball rolling” says Marie-Hélène Plainfossé.
Transforming the business
The Link platform has grown with the group and now targets an audience of 600 managers, across all entities. Its functionality has also changed significantly. The original core of the platform was supplemented by videos from internal directors covering topics of prime importance to Galeries Lafayette, such as digital innovation, management transformation, and relationships with clients. These in-house videos are rounded out with external web content, giving an alternative perspective on the subject through press articles or TEDx videos.
Three more components were added to complete the platform after the pilot. The first is dedicated to group news, which managers can also comment on and share. The second is a space dedicated to the transformation of the group’s management culture. The last is a range of blended learning programs, accessible via The Link, which specifically target management. “When I came on board, there was no e-learning at all within the group” says Marie-Hélène Plainfossé. Five training programs were developed that combined content from the CrossKnowledge library with material produced internally. Among these courses, the Department Stores Management Program, targeted the entire management community and consisted of 3,500 hours of training. “We also set up an internal MBA course with the ESCP Business School and the IFM (French Fashion Institute), called the Lafayette Leadership Management Program, says Marie-Hélène Plainfossé. The managers enrolled in the program take e-learning modules prior to each classroom session, and can access all of the content on the platform after the class.”
Boosting participation rates
The Link continues to motivate the involvement of group managers. “We started with a big internal communication effort, and with director buy-in to set the example. But the platform’s success can also be explained by its approach, which is both flexible and participatory. The interface is also very simple. Yesterday I watched a video that had been viewed by more than a quarter of the management community – that’s quite a success for something that is not at all compulsory” says Marie-Hélène Plainfossé.
Training digitalization moves forward
The platform is becoming an internal hub for managers: a source of strategic information on the group’s culture and values, as well as the place where they find all of their training content. For example, support documentation for internal seminars,– e.g. presentations, presenter biographies, etc. – is all now systematically integrated into The Link.
Galeries Lafayette plans to call on CrossKnowledge for support in meeting its next challenge: innovation. The group’s goal is to use training content as a springboard for managers’ discussions about the future of the business. “CrossKnowledge has a very client-centered culture. Their teams are attentive to clients’ needs. They’re real professionals” says Marie-Hélène Plainfossé.