AkzoNobel Chemicals

While AkzoNobel might not be a household name, many of its products are. Brand names such as Sikkens, InterPon, Glidden, and Dulux have made AkzoNobel the largest global paints and coatings company and a leading producer of specialty chemicals.

The Challenge

But being the largest wasn't good enough for this organization; they wanted to be the industry leader. And they knew the challenge ahead hinged on developing their people and leaders. AkzoNobel's strategic ambition is to be the World's Leading Coatings and Specialty Chemicals Company. AkzoNobel's Human Resource's ambition, in relation to the values' side of the strategic agenda, is to ensure conditions are in place for a world-class AkzoNobel organization with:

  • Healthy talent pipeline in line with AkzoNobel's leadership profile
  • Strong succession benches in line with Diversity and Inclusion objectives
  • AkzoNobel seen, externally and internally, as an employer of choice

Employee engagement survey results show that there was still a lot of room for improvement—especially when it comes to feeling that someone cares and listens to individual needs and to ensuring that, whatever job or position, all employees understand how their work relates to the broader mission and purpose of the company.

The Solution

HR is working hard to ensure AkzoNobel is recognized as an employer of choice, both externally and internally. And it goes without saying that any first-choice employer would boast high levels of employee engagement—where everyone knows what's expected of them, is able to do their best, and feels valued. What's more, this kind of working environment will be essential if AkzoNobel is to achieve its accelerated growth ambitions.

Senior leadership felt the most powerful plan of attack would be to start with the frontline leaders to shore up their skills and then work the training up the leadership ranks of the organization. The challenge with this approach was that it meant training 11,000 people in the first wave of delivery. The organization was already successfully using the program Situational Leadership® II (SLII®) from The Ken Blanchard Companies® and had the full support of senior leadership to make it a cornerstone of the new curriculum and the driver of a consistent leadership language throughout the organization's worldwide structure. So, the management development group embarked on a plan to train more than 3,000 people in 35 locations and in 17 languages. The team decided to tackle the deployment in two waves and to create a curriculum that worked globally and could be delivered in a way that kept the content and experience consistent while preserving some of the local cultural flavor. The initial roll out and delivery plan took 18 months and, to date, results have been very positive.


Based on the success of their current training deployment, AkzoNobel was able to forge ahead. Plans included training frontline employees in Situational Self Leadership (an additional 3,000 mid-level managers), and training 500 senior leaders in Situational Leadership® II to sustain and embed the concepts of SLII into their culture.

Among the first training initiatives is for managers to be transformed into role models for engagement—engagement catalysts who can lead by example. These catalysts will learn about engagement in depth, and be trained in methods for motivating themselves and their direct reports and colleagues.

The second training program is a coaching program for HR business partners across the company. Once the course is completed, these HR professionals will be able to coach managers in areas such as how to embed strong performance management practices and improve engagement in their own teams.

With a key deployment behind them, AkzoNobel is wasting no time by looking back. They are looking to the future and have taken great strides to ensure that they meet their goal of becoming a Leading Coatings and Specialty Chemicals Company.

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