Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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Worldwide - 2013

Focused Training Advances Supervisory Excellence 

Frontline supervisors oversee two-thirds of Alcoa’s workforce around the world, and a focused leadership training program called Advancing Supervisory Excellence (ASE) is boosting employee engagement and supervisor effectiveness while avoiding more than US$2 million in costs.


Prior to ASE’s initial launch in 2010, supervisor training was deployed independently within the company’s various business units, resulting in numerous programs that were inconsistent, expensive, unsustainable, and often ineffective. This was against the backdrop of supervisors facing higher customer expectations, constant change, greater demand for productivity, and a more diverse workforce. Their role was also evolving from “doer” or “director” to one in which they must coach, support, involve, encourage, develop, facilitate, and clarify—all while still providing direction and ensuring that results are achieved.


In developing ASE, Alcoa’s internal team leveraged best-in-class tactics from across the business units to create a holistic, consistent development program based on a clear definition of the new role of a frontline supervisor—50% improver and 50% supervisor.


Phase 1 of the program focuses on skills training, coaching, and best practices for leadership processes. Phase 2 covers communicating effectively, embracing change, being a supportive change leader, building inclusive work teams, and understanding basic operational finances. Expected to be completed in 2013, Phase 3 has supervisors applying the skills they learned in the prior two phases through case studies.


“ASE has allowed me to become a better supervisor,” said Willie Gonzalez, hot mill flowpath leader at Alcoa Lancaster in Pennsylvania, USA. “The game changer was learning to use a discussion planner, which helps me stay focused on what I need to discuss with an employee. I’ve had very difficult conversations with employees who thanked me at the end and also asked for my help in changing their negative behaviors. I feel that since I underwent the training, I’m getting more positive feedback from my employees and my boss.”


Through May 2013, ASE was deployed at almost 80% of Alcoa’s locations globally, with 3,100 of the company’s 6,000 supervisors receiving the training. Locations that deployed the training have seen an average increase of 5% in employee engagement and 9% in supervisor effectiveness scores on Alcoa’s annual Global Voices employee survey compared to locations that have not yet offered the training.


Using standardized training that is delivered by certified internal trainers has helped the company avoid more than US$2 million in costs associated with duplicate training development and deployment across the locations.