Leadership Development Program Expanding into the New Year

The media have spoken exhaustively about The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and other culture trends occurring in the work force since 2020.

According to Pew Research, approximately 30 percent of workers switched jobs in 2022 and that statistic is down only slightly from the previous year’s numbers citing about 34 percent of workers switched employers in 2021. A Gallup statistic cites attrition costs nearly $1 trillion for U.S. businesses and the cost of replacing an employee can average 1.5 to 2 times the employee’s annual salary due to training costs and knowledge loss within the company.

So how do you prevent attrition?

Many employees leave positions because of lack of personal growth opportunities, inability to align their responsibilities to the goals of the business, and a lack of a clear career path.

Investing in employees for training programs and leadership development creates a sense of belonging, autonomy, and confidence in employees.

When Don Whetro became the Chief Operations Officer at AR Franchising, Inc., he joined the company with more than 25 years of experience in building and a passion for building formidable teams. Paired with the company’s people-first approach to workplace culture, he began crafting a new initiative for employee development at AR Homes® which has been praised by both employees and management.

The 2022 CATALYST Pilot Program

What started as the seed of an idea from Don quickly blossomed into a full-scale program in partnership with Kelli Chickos, Director of People Operations at AR Franchising, Inc. With Kelli spearheading the program, known as CATALYST, for development and enrichment, the company began to invest in emerging leaders by using a tailored approach to mentoring and training.

The CATALYST program consisted of five different elements to ensure participants learn the valuable skills necessary to lead conversations, presentations, and teams.

Throughout the program, participants underwent a book study of the canonical “The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations,”, in which members discussed the pillars of leadership in depth. CATALYST participants were encouraged to participate in regular Toastmasters sessions to build presentation skills and take a Talent Assessment to learn greater personal insight along with one-on-one coaching and resources. The CATALYST program culminated in two projects: a real-world business challenge and a philanthropic endeavor to give back to their community.

The results from the pilot program speak for itself. Initial results show leaders felt the CATALYST program strengthened their direct report’s leadership skills, increased confidence, and gave participants a higher purpose.

One participant stated, “I was proud to be a part of the initial CATALYST group. While participating, I appreciated the recognition we received from our executive leadership team. What I found most impactful were the meetings in which leaders would join the Zoom call & share their experiences with us. Those conversations felt authentic and helped to humanize our executive leaders, but also made me feel more encouraged to reach out to them if I needed to do so.”

Another participant stated, “I enjoyed the camaraderie and collaboration with my team. Also, while reading the book and during our meeting I felt like it restored my passion and my pursuit for excellence. It took me out of my everyday loop and gave me a chance to look at things with a fresh perspective.”

“There are now eight people from this initial CATALYST program who can begin to fill leadership roles,” says Don. “Additionally, the insight provided to our leaders and our board of directors is equivalent with the leading consultants within the industry. The level of innovation and intelligence in our next group of leaders is incredible and we are very proud to be a part of their career trajectory.”

In addition to the soft skills learned throughout the program, participants raised over $12,000 for the Humane Societies in Florida and North Carolina, and provided Fostering Hope Florida, Inc. with 98 backpacks filled with school supplies for foster children.

The Future of CATALYST

The 2022 CATALYST pilot program was just the beginning. The 2022 CATALYST graduates will continue their work with quarterly team meetings and serving as mentors for the incoming 2023 CATALYST group. The program is now accepting recommendations for the next group of CATALYST participants for 2023.