Global retailer Banana Republic found itself in a period of significant change in terms of its brand, its leadership, its parent company Gap Inc., and the overall retail landscape.
“There has been a lot of internal change going on and in general most retailers are up against a dramatic evolutional shift in the retail world,” says Dan Leavitt, senior manager of learning and development at Banana Republic. “We believe that the velocity of change and disruption is only going to increase over time and this is necessitating different approaches and new ideas. Tracking that change adds stress and we felt the need to give our leaders skills and strategies for staying resilient.”
The company wanted to equip its leaders with mental toughness so that they would have the drive and persistence to achieve results in an increasingly challenging retail environment.
The company was looking for content around resilience and approached us as a partner for this program. Banana Republic brought in two facilitators to run a half-day pilot on mental toughness for around 15 of the top store leaders in Europe. “That got really great reviews and great feedback,” says Leavitt. “Some of our store leaders were out visiting stores and heard really positive comments about the content from the store managers who'd been through it, so that created an initial buzz.”
The initial pilot was followed by another session with a group of the company’s regional directors from North America, which was also extremely well received. Soon after, Banana Republic decided to plan a global management conference where a larger group of leaders from around the globe could complete our Fortius Mindset assessment and gain development around mental toughness.
This culminated in 100 global district managers from North America, Japan, and Europe attending a day long workshop focused on the Mastering Motivation portion of our Breakthrough to Peak Performance course. Before attending, the district managers completed a Fortius Mindset assessment to measure their mental toughness. The workshop introduced them to three of the “10 winning behaviors” of leaders and provided them with tactics for achieving the outcomes they are looking for, changing the way they view success and failure, taking a positive approach, and managing stress.
The team at Banana Republic also wanted to focus on mastering motivation. “Retail can be so metric-driven, especially if you are leading a store: it's all about how sales are looking,” says Leavitt. “Sometimes that has led to an over-emphasis on only getting to the results. So we wanted to invest in the mastery of how you get there (the process) rather than being so results driven.”
The company intends to embed this learning through a follow-up program of activities where regional teams are encouraged to discuss their own results, create an action plan, and practice using their new skills and tactics to manage stress better and work more positively.
Banana Republic Pilot achieved a number of significant benefits as a result of the program.
- The pilot workshop was very successful, and the great response from participants convinced the company to invest more and extend the program to a much wider global audience.
- The development program aligns to work Banana Republic and Gap Inc. are already doing to create a “growth mindset,” one of the group’s core strategic pillars.
- The company is tracking how the skills, dialogue, and insights gained from the Fortius Mindset assessment help leaders to navigate and lead in a growth mindset environment.
- The focus on managing stress is appreciated by the leaders who have participated in the program. The coping strategies they have learned have also been helpful. “They saw some of the strategies presented as being great ways to manage the stress that comes with these jobs in real time,” says Leavitt. “They liked us acknowledging that this can be a reality for them, as it's not something we have previously talked about a lot.”
- The company was impressed with the level of depth provided by the Fortius Mindset assessment and the practical recommendations it offered for improvement. “One of the things we really liked was it contains a lot of really practical recommendations for actions to take,” says Leavitt. “That's one of the things that our field and store organizations have appreciated: you can take that report, get personal insight, and then put things into practice that help you actually develop skills. People have been really responding well to them.”
Banana Republic is already experiencing the positive impact of these mental toughness programs, as participants put the strategies they have learned into practice and start to see how mindset and attitude can positively impact peak performance.
“We're hoping that by instilling and building up mental toughness in this team that will in the coming year be filtered down into the way they lead their teams,” says Leavitt. “This is an influential group of 100 people who indirectly have the responsibility for leading over 20,000 store employees around the world.”