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  • Andrea Fielding

DECO PROTESTE Academy-Our people go further

DECO PROTESTE, the sponsor of the Emerging Leader Category of the Employer Brand Leader of the Year 2020 to be awarded at World Employer Branding Day 13-15 May | Lisbon, has a long history of supporting emerging talent.

This case study outlines the development of the DECO PROTESTE Academy. Following a review of their employee experience, the results were cross-analyzed with their Climate Survey results and senior leadership concluded that reinforcement of the teams’ Learning & Development path should be a key priority which led to the launch of the Academy.

Company overview

Established in 1978, DECO PROTESTE is the largest consumer organization in Portugal (Video - Deco Proteste for all). It provides consumer information and services, advantageous negotiations through partnerships, as well as advice and Consumer support. Today, DECO PROTESTE connects 400,000 subscribers and has diversified and adapted its offer to consumers’ evolving expectations and desires.

DECO PROTESTE is part of the Euroconsumers Group, a business entity established by consumers organizations present in 5 countries (Belgium, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Brazil) with 1200 employees and more than 1.500.000 active subscribers. The Euroconsumers Group actively promotes and defends consumer interests in a global market where consumers interact with products and services increasingly similar, our strategic purpose has never been clearer. If consumer services and goods companies act globally, our consumer ‘safety net’ must have the same outreach, providing clear and continuous support throughout different geographies.

Euroconsumers dynamically represents and defends consumer fundamental rights such as the right to be informed, to be heard, to have access and to choose freely between various products and services; the right to safety, to recourse and compensation; the right to consumer education.

By 2021, Euroconsumers envisions becoming a hub for 100 million consumers, taking the relationship “preservation of rights-consumer” to a new level by strengthening its organizational touchpoints with the end consumer. This will allow the organization to be the true embodiment of the consumers interests, and DECO PROTESTE must be able to respond to this challenge and implement actions to fulfill its share of this Vision.

Project objectives

Our Vision and objectives for the future can only be achieved if DECO PROTESTE has the ability to reinvent itself. Such reinvention must be built on top of organizational openness and proactiveness to protect consumers needs.

The values and priorities of individuals are changing. People now prioritize experience over ownership. Such trend, catalyzed by everyday technological developments, promotes the emergence of new behaviors, and exchanges between consumers-information is just one touch away (Boumphrey & Brehmer, 2017). By incorporating this new social framework in its DNA, DECO PROTESTE will surely reinforce its value and market positioning.

To that extent, a clear and transparent people strategy is closely set and renewed, intimately close to the heart of the business. This promotes proactive upskilling and reskilling of the workforce, the provision of accurate tools and the establishment of the right mindset in order to answer our challenges.

To achieve our goals, we need to take a bold and brave step into a volatile and complex future for our own reinvention. The momentum needed for this step is in each and every one of us–the DECO PROTESTE workforce–and the organization’s challenge is to drive the will of the individual that feed it.

DECO PROTESTE Academy-Our people go further

With our business needs and future challenges as a base for discussion, we mapped the journey of employees at DECO PROTESTE and highlighted the employer brand moments of truth (EBMOT’s). These are events where the employee experiences an emotional peak within a specific interaction with the organization (Minchington & Morris, 2015). We cross-analyzed our people’s journey with the Climate Survey results and concluded that reinforcement of the teams’ Learning & Development path should be a key priority.

To address this challenge, the organization sprouted the DECO PROTESTE Academy. This is an internal “Business School” that provides training programs adapted to our reality and needs, decreasing skill gaps and speeding up the learning curve.

We firmly believe that investing in this domain contributes not only to increase organizational performance but also to bolster a culture of continuous improvement, engagement and commitment. In due time, this effort will materialize itself in a great culture and optimal customer experience (Schulte, 2010).


The initial challenge was the creation of an Academy, so that people would take ownership as if it was their own. In order to achieve this goal, the organization got fully involved in its creation. The key internal practices, procedures and indicators were established and relevant people were interviewed and engaged. A focus group consisting of leaders and teams was assembled in order to identify key capabilities that could be aligned with our business needs (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Focus group with employees

We were then able to determine the critical success factors for the success of this Academy and what it should stand for – its Vision, Mission, and Values (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Branded DECO PROTESTE Academy wall and merchandise included in the Academy kit delivered to employees

Time and resources are required to sustain the Academy’s Vision. These are applyed in the development of the right skills for the Leadership team. Only with the necessary management skills can the Organization create the adequate working environment and mindset that will boost our employees’ experience within our organization and, consequently, their performance. To accomplish this, we dedicated the first two years of the Academy to implementing our Leadership Programs–A development journey designed to create leaders with the right skill set, in order to manage diverse teams, with different backgrounds, ideas and leaders that could spontaneously act like role models for Culture improvement and change.

To align the Leadership learning journey with the business and Culture challenges, we established four main dimensions as a framework for the programs:

Strategic Vision: Understand the Organization, its business and strategy to the point of translating our mission into daily team management activities. Always with an inspiring and future-oriented mindset.

Value Creation: Enhance the team's operating effectiveness by managing towards high performance and value creation for the end consumer, ensuring organizational sustainability.

Develop Talent : Truly understand our teams. Be there for them, proposing new challenges and raising their potential, identifying and developing their improvement needs.

Impact and Influence: Engage teams, peers and external stakeholders, creating a positive atmosphere of trust, effective relationships, and communication.

Translating these four drivers into our Deco Proteste Academy strategy for Leadership development turned out to be the optimum moment to enhance the potential of our Leaders and strengthen their relationship with their teams.

What we did

To improve, develop and/or create future organizational Leaders with a skill set for strategic vision, impact, and value creation for their related teams and Consumers, we implemented three Leadership Programs:

  1. Grow Program: Target: High Potentials-A program dedicated to employees with recognized potential to take over leadership responsibilities. Their learning path aims at cultivating and developing a culture and skills for value creation, strategic vision, communication, and integrated management.

  2. Energize Program: For 2nd Line Managers-This program is envisioned for all employees with coordinating responsibilities. It intends to boost their business-focused behaviors, encourage the development of cooperation among teams and identify and grow internal talent.

  3. Master Program: For 1st Line Managers-A program developed for DECO PROTESTE Leaders, to strengthen their influence and ability to develop and mobilize their teams to achieve high performance. Its purpose is also to empower them to inspire the fulfillment of the organization’s mission and to boost the business, according to a strategic and future-oriented vision (see figure 3).

Figure 3: Participants of the Master Program during the Change Management Action

Participants’ testimonials

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality”! In fact, once I finished the chapter "Organizational Management and Strategic Vision", I felt that as leaders of the organization, we are better able to, together, challenge orthodoxies as well as to identify our uniqueness as a competitive advantage, so we do not lose sight of the future macro-trends that guarantee our sustainability and existence.

Miguel Cristóvão @ Master

"Independence, credibility and proximity are the values that have guided DECO PROTESTE ever since. In a rapidly changing world with increasingly demanding consumers, more ingredients need to be added every day: innovate communication, deliver more and better products and services, and never lose our identity as a consumer advocate. The recipe is the same, the formula is always improved.

Filipa Rendo @ Marketing & Value Creation - GROW Program (see figure 4).

Figure 4: Grow Program participants during Marketing & Value Creation action

These programs were predominantly developed and implemented with the support of one of the best Portuguese Business Schools – Porto Business School. In a nutshell, all three learning paths are management programs, built from different learning sessions, such as Innovation Ecosystem Model, Situational Leadership, Finance, Marketing & Brand Strategy, Managing Diversity, and so on.

To empower Managers with specific knowledge, complementary activities are conducted alongside the main program. Examples of these activities include coaching sessions for giving and receiving feedback methods, a storytelling workshop with Doug Stevenson, and business and innovation conferences with speakers such as Martin Lindstrom. In addition, to inspire our Leaders, these complementary actions provide the possibility of engagement through breakfast sessions with external Leaders who are invited to share with DECO PROTESTE their knowledge and experience, such as Brett Minchington (Figure 5) and Pedro Coelho Dias - a Commander in the Portuguese Navy.

Figure 5: Some of the participants at the Master Breakfast with Brett Minchington

The business impact

Since the beginning of the Academy (early 2016), we’ve implemented 17 actions, totaling 3137 training hours (until late 2018). Alongside our Leadership programs, we have implemented a global training plan for all employees representing, up until now, more than 70 actions and 8361.5 training hours.

In the Climate Survey of 2016, employees’ average satisfaction with all dimensions analyzed was 3.52 (on an evaluation scale of 1 to 5), and the satisfaction level with the Learning & Development area was 3.35.

This drove the Organization to commit to improve specific domains such as Learning & Development.

Up until now, we have implemented two additional Pulse Surveys designed to evaluate the organizational engagement levels and the evolution of some specific domains we wanted to audit, such as the Learning & Development domain. We were very curious in assessing Leadership opinion and engagement level about this specific topic.

Comparing the surveys, global satisfaction with the Learning & Development dimension improved from 3.35 to 3.47. Not withstanding this being a small improvement, when we compare team satisfaction (3.47) with Leadership satisfaction (4.05), we can see the first signs of the impact our Leadership Programs had.

More than the survey’s results, our biggest achievement is on Leadership Behaviors. This group revealed an improvement in autonomy and motivation to perform their role in processes and domains that, up until now, were the responsibility of HR, such as the Performance Management Process.

Key learnings

The program has resulted in several key learnings including:

Selecting excellent suppliers to support the development of our programs and providing them with access to organizational information allowed us to customize and adapt training initiatives to our reality. Moreover, the development of briefing sessions for training preparation with internal key stakeholders provided the instructers with an in-depth understanding of our challenges. As an example, prior to the Strategic Marketing training, the instructor met not only with the HR Manager but also with our MKT Manager.

The program’s global assessment identified the frequency of two days per month as the best option to keep the Managers learning pace without compromising their working schedules and commitments.

Furthermore, the follow-up of managers undertaken by the HR Business Partners highlighted the need for reinforcing all the learning methods and tools conveyed in the different training sessions. This reinforcement is undertaken through ritualization actions aimed at consolidating learning. With these actions, we intend to enhance a culture that embraces change and encourages leadership acts, the acceptance of accountability and performance recognition.

Upon review, we also identified that we can extend this level of learning opportunities to all employees by consolidating knowledge in in-house teams through consistent programs.

We now have the resources, right mindset and support from Managers to develop customized learning programs that meet the teams development needs. Ultimately, we will leverage the organizations mission by ensuring the development, commitment and focus of employees on current and future challenges are supported in optimal conditions.


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