What Coaching and Training Professionals Can Learn From Gucci

by Shirley Soodeen


How, What and Why

Fierce competition within the luxury industry to retain the best talent, as well as changing business models from retail to online sales, has a direct impact on employee engagement. Many major luxury brands struggle to hold on to talented individuals who are lured away by financial promises and the need to fulfil their development goals. Integrated talent management processes designed to attract, develop, motivate, and retain the most talented employees enable organisations to remain productive. However, what else can be implemented to continuously deliver performance outcomes whilst satisfying the individual need for contribution and recognition?

In my coaching experience, I see that managers, who are required to deliver performance outcomes, are used to talking about them in terms of tangible deliverables that can be measured – the WHAT and the HOW.  They are used to explaining WHAT their teams have to do and HOW they have to do it, but all too often WHY they are doing it is ignored. Leaders know why they do what they do but do the people who work in their teams share the same vision?

From a coaching standpoint the HOW looks into the way we reach our goals, the processes we use to move ahead: strategies, results, number of calls, clients visited, and so on. It’s the stuff that makes the business look good. Most teams are able to speak about these, but the reason WHY they have to deliver remains elusive. The reason being that the WHY addresses the individual, not the organisation or the business outcomes.  When coaching addresses WHY an individual is considered an important asset within their organisation, business unit, or team, great things can start to happen in terms of performance and results. 

“I” versus “WE”

The underlying theory of a people-focused management is identifying people’s strengths and weaknesses against a given position, and coaching them to improve their performance.” It stems from the belief “the right people and the right behaviours in the organisation” are key drivers for ongoing performance.

Within Gucci, there is a strong culture to develop and promote talent from within the ranks of the company and executives are encouraged to implement more coaching within its management ranks. This translates roughly in spending at least 30% of management time coaching and developing talented individuals.

During the performance workshops I managed for the brand across Asia, Europe and the US, we discussed how to accomplish the goal of spending a few hours every week talking and listening to team members about new ways to improve the business. For some managers that meant unplugging from their day to day operations, spending time getting to know their employees. A huge management difference for some! However, the long term results of a more people-focused approach are significant. Deloitte conducted research on the performance cultures within global organisations and they show that organisations with a strong coaching and development culture perform better than their peers in terms of:


46% more likely to be the first to market

Time to Market

34% better response to customer needs


26% more likely to deliver quality products

Skills for the future

58% better prepared to meet future demand


17% more likely to be market share leader

So overall, global organisations profit when people are placed at the forefront of the performance culture, not the other way round.

While we may be bedazzled by the products the luxury industry creates and get caught up in the hype of a few fashion directors, it’s the WHY that drives the passion of every single individual, creating a high performing brand. Luxury brands who have tended to forget that have seen their profits slip and lost their best talent to brands who consider people to be valuable assets rather than liabilities on a balance sheet.


Shirley Soodeen 

Shirley Soodeen is an expert business coach and development specialist, who specialises in creating high-performance cultures in the luxury fashion industry for some of the leading brands in the world. For more information, please visit http://www.thebusinessofpeople.com.au/


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