Our client is a leader in the manufacture of building and high-performance materials that address energy efficiency and environmental challenges.
Major Construction Materials Company
CLIENT: MajorConstruction Materials Company
PROJECT: The Effective Leader – Leading Through Influence
THEMES: Leadership Development
AUDIENCE: Senior Managers
LOCATION: UK and Northern Europe
Our client is a world leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of building and high-performance materials, providing solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. In operation for over 350 years, the company is represented in 66 countries and employs 180,000 people worldwide.
After successfully delivering a leadership programme for regional and country managers within transversal or line management positions across Northern Europe for nine years, we were commissioned by our client to transform the programme in response to their request for a more innovative, dynamic and engaging approach to learning, integrating digital content delivery and online discussion forums, and using a ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ approach. In parallel, we were asked by the regional HR team to recognise that there had been a fundamental shift in business leaders’ development needs, corresponding to the complexities associated with influencing and collaborating in culturally diverse virtual and remote teams within a matrix organisation.
[A more detailed description of our programme design and solution is provided in the PDF version of this Case Study]
We worked closely with the Northern European Regional HR Team to design and deliver a 16-week blended learning leadership development journey - Leading through Influence – that addresses how to be influential within a matrix organization when one may have no line management power nor physical presence. The pilot programme consisted of the following phases:
Line Manager and Learner Engagement
To ensure Line Managers were fully involved and supportive, they were expected to attend a 45-minute webinar, which introduced the programme objectives and explained their role in supporting the development of their reports. They were also provided with templates to use when agreeing learning objectives with and coaching their learners.
Learners were fully briefed on the programme through an engaging online video session, designed and delivered by our programme facilitators.
Weeks 1 - 7: Online learning
Learners completed seven weeks of online learning using the CrossKnowledge interactive digital learning platform, spending approximately 90 minutes a week completing activities on topics linked to the programme’s behavioural objectives. Learners also used a CrossKnowledge online discussion forum, led by our facilitator, to interact with their peers throughout the online learning journey In Week 1, they also completed a customised 360 degree feedback questionnaire, and subsequently received 1.5 hours of facilitated feedback with an ASK facilitator. At the end of this phase and before the Workshop, each learner had a coaching conversation with their Line Manager, reviewing their Personal Development Plan in the light of their online learning and 360 degree feedback.
Week 8: Experiential Workshop
The 3-day workshop gave learners an opportunity to practise the skills acquired from the online learning. Working together face-to-face, learners were encouraged to share their knowledge, skills and experience, and received rich feedback on their performance. To make the workshop an interactive and enjoyable experience, learners were offered collaborative recreational activities to enable them to engage with each other outside the learning sessions. As a result, learners felt a greater connection to their colleagues and felt more confident to interact virtually during the subsequent programme phases. The workshop culminated in an opportunity for learners to reflect on their learning, review their Personal Development Plan and refine their individual learning priorities.
Weeks 9 – 15: Online collaboration and support
Learners then undertook seven weeks of workplace-based informal learning, using the online CrossKnowledge forum to share and discuss knowledge, tools, experiences and challenges. An ASK facilitator moderated the forum to continue the learning momentum, support learners in practising and embedding skills, and encourage social learning.
Week 16: Virtual Action Learning Sets and Line Manager Meeting
In the final week of the programme, facilitated Virtual Action Learning Sets enabled learners to present their progress to their peers and facilitators and receive rich feedback on their performance. Learners were subsequently required to discuss their progress with their Line Manager, providing evidence for their key accomplishments and identifying key development milestones they had reached. On completion of the programme, each learner received recognition for their commitment to the programme and their success towards their learning goals.
100% of learners agreed that the workshop enabled them to develop their skills to lead through influence
91% of learners rated the programme as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, further agreeing that they would strongly recommend the programme to colleagues
“Excellent course and very professional. The openness on Day One created a very good bond with the teams. The interaction during Influencing styles descriptions was enjoyable and made you realise how the different styles work.”
A Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, our client is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, employing over 37,000 people in 300 offices globally. Within the UK (part of the EMEA business), it has 1,600 staff in 12 offices. They provide strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; tenant representation, corporate services; facilities, property and project management; appraisal and valuation; development services; investment management; energy and sustainability services, and research and consulting.
The UK and European business division developed and launched their Talent Strategy, focused on ensuring future corporate longevity by: ‘building’ rather than ‘buying’ talent; ensuring a robust pipeline of successors and leaders; enabling employees to have the career they want within the organisation, and having a clear and attractive Employee Value Proposition.
Recognising that their success depended on the skills and expertise of their people, and in particular their knowledge, professional reputation and ability to build winning client partnerships, attracting talent was a top priority. Growth, particularly in Europe, made talent development – and, in particular, identification by line managers, application of development plans, and transitioning L&D from operational training to supporting the benefits of more informal development - an important opportunity.
We created a focused talent development process that culminated in participants having an informed individual development plan and embarking on a development programme aligned to our client’s High Potential Differentiators. The key elements of the talent development process included:
Identification of high-potentials by senior business leaders
Launch of the talent development process at a networking event, led by the CEO
Completion of an internal 360 feedback questionnaire and the Learning Styles and Hogan Development Survey psychometric assessments
A one-day Development Centre, designed and facilitated by ASK®
Individual 90 minute facilitated feedback sessions to identify key strengths and areas for development and create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for line manager and HR Business Partner sign-off; each candidate received a 360 and psychometric feedback, and assessment ratings and comments in line with the HP Differentiators.
We shared organisational development themes with our client and were retained to facilitate the process for the following year. Feedback from the development centre and the individual feedback sessions enabled us to adjust the exercises to ensure they remained fit for our client’s purpose and market relevance.
Managing over 60,000 homes and 120,000 residents, our client is one of the UK’s largest affordable housing providers. Employing 3,000 staff, its size reflects a series of mergers and acquisitions. In recent years, the organisation has responded to their impact by working to unify around a single goal and set of values, with a common set of
The Project Context
As well as addressing significant recent challenges to the sector, and particularly welfare reforms, that have heavily impacted funding, revenues and financial security, our client has undergone significant internal change, transitioning from regional businesses to national functional divisions and needing to tackle inevitable consequential cultural and communication issues.
While an existing coaching skills programme was providing practical experience of coaching, feedback and challenging performance gaps, managers’ broader role remained fundamental in continuing to develop the organisation. The primary focus was on people management skills, including: performance management, coaching skills, team effectiveness, change management and awareness of impact on others. In helping to develop ‘managers of the future’ to tackle the sector’s challenges, the objectives and key measures of success were:
Increased levels of customer service and enhanced staff engagement
Improved performance management conversations, including universal coaching provision
For new managers, greater confidence in managing people skilfully
Developing in-house capability to reduce reliance on HR and external support
Greater transparency and authenticity between leaders and staff
Greater interaction and knowledge-sharing between regions, functions and levels.
We have now worked with our client for over two years, designing and evolving an integrated suite of interventions that includes:
Leadership coaching, using 360 degree feedback, MBTI® and FIRO-B®
A 4-day Managers Programme, with line manager discussions before and after each workshop element and a 1-day follow-up event after 12 months
Half-day Managing Performance briefings
A 1-day Recruitment and Selection programme
Managing Change Conferences
1-day Coaching Skills workshops
Our work with the organisation, all of which is linked to its leadership and management standards, continues to be informed by this on-going relationship, with a further cohort of the Managers Programme taking place in 2016.
“A perfect balance between support and encouragement and constructive criticism.”
“Although very intense, the course has provided invaluable information.”
“Given me the tools to help me prove a better way.”
“Brilliant mix of small and larger group and individual working.”
“Full of ideas and information to take back to the work place.”
With 149 million active buyers globally and over 700 million listed items, our client is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, enabling 20% of global e-commerce activity. Founded in 1995 and employing c.30,000 people worldwide on all continents, it connects a diverse and passionate community of individual buyers and sellers, including a growing number of businesses both large and small. The organisation has three business units, supporting online buying and selling, digital payment processing, and commerce, retailing and digital marketing for merchants.
In an organisation where managers operate in a matrix-based and virtual working environment, leadership challenges are highly differentiated. Our client was seeking a provider with a global network of high quality coaches who would be able to offer a consistent resource to support leaders across all areas of the business in being adaptive and agile.
We agreed an overarching coaching framework, informed and inspired by our business-focused approach to coaching support. Before contracting each coaching relationship, the participant has a conversation with their line manager and L&D representative to agree their coaching need and focus, and the nature of the support they require. The participant also works with L&D to engage with their line manager and define the ongoing support they will need after each coaching contract to ensure transfer of learning back into the workplace.
The coaching content has varied considerably between individual clients, depending on their personal development requirements and the business and cultural context of their roles, but has included:
Influence and Personal Impact
Transitions, especially where leaders need support in enhancing their ability to flex their style to have impact across a variety of cultures.
In some cases, there has also been a mentoring element to the coaching relationship, reflecting our ability to provide a suitable quality of coach/mentor with a willingness and ability to offer positive challenge.
“I got loads of value out of this - I have made strives forward that I would not have made without our coaching sessions.”
“We continue to work on the goals set up front, and focus on applying learnings moving forward!”
Our client is a worldwide semi-conductor manufacturer and supplier, created as a separate company by its owner in 2006. In addition to supplying semi-conductors for use in domestic appliances, vehicles and identification systems, they also manufacture and market contactless card technology used by many major transport systems.
The Project Context
The company was seeking to build an organisational development programme that had its heart in leadership development, structured around the company’s own specific values.
Our client’s specific requirement was to move the business culture – and its leaders’ behaviour – from a task focus to a task and people focus, from directing to engaging, from using capability to developing potential, and – most importantly – from managing to leading.
The behavioural change programme to deliver this objective had an in-scope audience of over 450 leaders in a number of global locations. The goal would be to establish a forward behavioural strategy that would demonstrate the link between behaviours and results, and embed the company’s values within the behaviours of its top leaders.
Supporting a change of culture from critiquing to encouraging, the programme would also need to engage the whole leadership team and improve dialogue to optimise learning. Mindful that cultural change is a long-term challenge, rigorous support of the transfer of learning back into the workplace would also be essential.
The Leadership Journey was an innovative six-month behavioural change programme comprising of four phases – Check-in, Boarding, Travelling and Landing – at the heart of which were two workshops. The process was supported throughout by 1:1 executive coaching, and implementation of learning driven through online follow-through technology.
The programme was designed to uncover participants’ current habitual leadership behaviours and the personal mindsets that underpinned them, and to explore the ways in which the business has been moulded and shaped by these personal, corporate and cultural value systems.
By demonstrating the link between behaviours and results, it enabled participants to experiment with new ways of thinking and working to enhance personal leadership skills, create clarity around the difference between management and leadership skills, and connects individual career and life stages to the flow of the organisation.
The development of Personal Development Plans, with benchmarks to evaluate progress, developed a forward ‘behavioural’ strategy that improved the dialogue between people to optimise learning and engaged, both directly and indirectly, the entire leadership team, including the CEO.
After the project was launched as a pilot, 30 cycles were run in three locations: the Netherlands, Shanghai and America.
On completing the follow-through process, 87% rated themselves ‘more effective’, while 61% said the programme had made a significant impact on the business. 97% of delegates’ learning goals were either completed or being progressed, and 80% had specific measurement processes or targets. Hard impact data supported these assessments: staff turnover – at 5% – was 75% lower than anticipated, while productivity had increased by 50%.
Feedback and Reviews
An Employee Engagement survey – conducting during subsequent restructuring after a change of ownership – showed a drop of only 2.5% against an industry benchmark of 10%, while the People Management Index continued to rise.
“Humbling, challenging, exciting, touching and hugely beneficial to my personal growth and leadership development.”
“It was really great to work in a creative and inspired team for 3 days. It was intensive, but worthwhile to invest in.”
“Exceeded my expectation - well structured, intense, challenging. Forced me to stretch and look at my performance in new ways.”
“It has been a real learning journey. I was able to understand myself better and how others perceive me.”
A division of a £3bn engineering, project management and consultancy group.
The Project Context
Our client, who’d joined the organisation only eighteen months earlier, was vice-president of Engineering in one of the group’s divisions. His role was to raise the division’s competence and creativity. Reporting to the divisional president, he had four peers holding P&L responsibility, and had been finding it hard to influence them, his boss and colleagues at group level. His boss described him as “too deferential towards peers and unwilling to confront others constructively.” He also felt the client had an indistinct image at group level, meaning they were largely unaware of him, limiting his potential for promotion.
The client set two coaching goals for himself:
Becoming more influential and assertive, both sideways and upwards, to show the self-assurance to work at a more senior level. Success was defined as:
- no longer feeling frustrated about the difficulty of inserting himself into key events, but feeling able to do so
- consistently confronting and asserting himself skilfully with peers, with recognition of this from his peers
- being pencilled in as most likely successor as Executive VP, Global Engineering
Creating a distinctive agenda that would add value to the business, and demonstrating progress towards it as evidence by:
- a coherent and consistent written agenda, stating his intent, choices, actions and timings
- requests from other divisional Presidents for his input (requiring him to have previously publicised his agenda)
- improved project execution, documented in the written agenda and recognised by internal customers.
We delivered fifteen months of confidential one-to-one executive coaching, with meetings taking place on a monthly basis.
Evaluation and Results
The client, his divisional President and his HR Vice-President gave feedback at the beginning, mid-point and end. The President and The HR Chief reported the client as being much more assertive with his peers and those above his level. The client’s proposed distinctive agenda was recognised not only by his peers, but also by the group’s Chief Operating Officer. The client was promoted to Executive Vice-President, Global Engineering shortly before the end of the coaching assignment.
“I liked my job and I know an opportunity to step up to a group role would arise, but I was dissatisfied with my progress and with a surrounding resistance to change that I couldn’t see a way around. On goal #1, I’ve been (seen to be) consistently asserting myself, I’m no longer frustrated about inserting myself into key events, and I am the successor! 10/10. On goal #2, I’ve used my agenda with the Group COO, his direct reports are opening their doors to me and accepting me, and I improved engineering project execution last year. I give myself 8/10. I’ve learnt greater self-awareness and self-control, I no longer feel like a victim of circumstances, and my self-confidence has deepened.”
The firm’s role is to provide audit, tax and advisory consulting services to clients, across thirty countries in the Central and Eastern European region of a global ‘Big Four’ consulting firm, employing 160,000 people worldwide.
The firm’s Talent Management Strategy was aimed at developing and promoting its most able staff to become Partners within 2-5 years. They decided that the previous Talent Development Programme was not delivering this strategy adequately and put out a tender for these services.
The aims of the programme were to:
focus development of high potential Senior Managers, to equip them to meet the changing requirements of the Partner role in light of the new strategy
present clearer messages to Senior Managers about required future behaviours and skills so that some of them could self-select out and ‘refresh’ the succession pool
provide participants with the opportunity to engage their Sponsoring Partner in supporting their development
implement learning into practice through participating in a ‘real time’ Strategic Project
build and maintain a network of peers, both in the territory and internationally.
We were asked to partner with the firm’s Talent and Leadership Development team to design and deliver a comprehensive development programme. The objectives of the programme were:
placing more focus on enhancing the value of our people
a better balance between ‘task’ and ‘people’ focus – “we share and collaborate better”
more visible role modelling of the values
development of the skills needed to be 'Trusted Advisors' to clients
leading a high performance culture that has impact for clients
The programme was designed for multiple Learning Sets of 5-7 people, the largest cohort totalling 42 participants in one year. Each set worked with a coach, who also provided each set member with individual telephone coaching between the workshops. In addition, a Lead Facilitator provided learning inputs during the workshops and liaised with local Partners and clients, who were invited to support the programme.
Each participant finished the programme with a conference call with their coach and Sponsoring Partner to assess progress against the initial learning goals and desired outcomes. In the four year life of the programme, 23% of participants were promoted to Partner, with another 18% opting to leave the organisation as they decided the Partner route was not for them.
The most recent programme reported the following average responses from participants for the overall ROI (on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being ‘excellent’):
I will be able to apply the knowledge and skills learned on this programme to my job – 4.17
This programme was a worthwhile investment for my employer – 4.33
This programme was a worthwhile investment in my career development – 4.28
Our client has existed in its present form since 1983, auditing the accounts of government departments and agencies (as well as other public bodies) and reporting to Parliament on these bodies’ efficient and effective use of public money.
The Project Context
The project’s strategic aim was to enable staff to develop and apply their knowledge more effectively, increasing their influence so that clients would take action on raised issues. This would require significant development and a more consultative approach, and more movement in and out of senior posts to pave the way for new behaviours.
While a development programme for qualified auditors (Audit Principals) had been in existence since 2005, the organisation wanted to launch a development programme for Audit Managers with the potential to progress to Director in its Financial Audit and Value for Money specialisms. The programme’s aims were to:
identify a higher quality pool of candidates for promotion to Director
capture better data on their skills and competencies
equip them to meet the changing requirements of the Director role
present clear messages to candidates unlikely to progress further, helping to ‘refresh’ the succession pool
enhance succession arrangements, clarifying roles and required skills, knowledge and experience
We designed and delivered a suite of leadership programmes for new leaders, leaders of teams and leaders of leaders, aimed at raising awareness and increasing skills in the management and leadership of people and performance.
We partnered with the Talent and Leadership Development team to design and deliver a comprehensive assessment and development programme that included the following key elements:
Attracting the right people – an application process to ensure all potential candidates had the chance to showcase their abilities, including a bespoke emotional intelligence 360 degree feedback questionnaire, a written exercise and submission of a CV
Assessing applicants’ potential – shortlisted applicants were assessed further through an interview-based 360 degree feedback process and a comprehensive assessment centre, including psychometrics, a filmed group activity and a presentation. Each candidate received feedback, coaching and interview with an Occupational Psychologist
Select the right people – candidates were ranked according to performance and the most successful were accepted onto the Direct Programme
The Direct Programme – designed to meet both individual and collective development needs, each candidate identifies specific areas of strength and development (through coaching, action learning sets and on-the-job experience), with common areas supported by masterclasses
Promotion – participants’ ongoing performance was reviewed to determine suitability for promotion into available posts.
All participants are highly focused on the skills and behaviours necessary to change the culture, with unsuccessful managers seeking additional coaching support. We have also been selected to provide the Future Leaders programme for Junior Managers.
“I feel confident that I have selected the right behavioural goals. My feedback and personal reflection on my experience suggests that strengthening these specific behaviours would enhance my performance as an NAO Director.”
“My experience as a Director has changed the way I work – I am now comfortable lifting myself out of the detail where appropriate, and have developed strengths in identifying the bigger picture and shaping work.”
A well-known brand, recognised and respected for its quality product, our client recognised that, even for luxury cars, competition in the market was increasing. Substantial investment into the organisation had seen the workforce rise from c.1,500 to 4,000 alongside the initiation of a new set of corporate goals that would propel the organisation ahead of its competitors.
The company had already acknowledged that it needed to smooth its profit growth by the timed introduction of other cars to fulfil the gaps between product-family launches. To create a more sustainable business, greater efficiency in bringing new products to market was needed. The growth of new markets, especially China, also urged close attention to customer satisfaction; reliance on brand recognising would not be sufficient.
The Project Context
During a time of significant change – including the appointment of a CEO from Group level who was new to the business, a re-organisation of the Board and the initiation of stretching business goals – cohesion within the Board was essential. Nervousness was growing within the business that the capability did not exist within the leadership cadre to implement the desired changes, and that the Board would not be sufficiently equipped or united to create the right momentum.
We were asked to work with the Board to help them support each other in working effectively together, and creating clarity around their personal, collective and business goals so that they could skilfully support the teams that reported to them. Our coach worked with individual Board members and with the whole team to establish the challenges that they faced, and to give them the space to explore and agree their priorities before putting in place short- and long-term goals. The team used the coach to focus on:
creating a cohesive team
exploring interpersonal styles to raise self-awareness and awareness of others in order to improve communication, trust, understanding and openness
establishing communication strategies for their teams by creating a unified message that they would share across the business
Following successful one-to-one and team based coaching with the Board, each Board Member worked with us to put together a joined-up series of meetings and supportive conversations with their direct teams. The focus for these sessions came as a direct result of the Board coaching, and they were aimed at establishing the expectations for change within the leadership teams that would support the transition.
Founded in 1880, our client has a presence in 24 countries, employing 7,000 journal editors, 70,000 editorial board members and 200,000 reviewers.
CLIENT: Publisher SECTOR: Media and Publishing PROJECT: Experiencing, Leading and Implementing Strategic Change THEMES: Change Agents AUDIENCE: Divisional Heads and their Teams LOCATION: US, UK and Mainland Europe
Founded in 1880, our client publishes a wide range of medical and scientific publications and journals in both printed and electronic/online versions. It has a presence in 24 countries and employs 7,000 journal editors, as well as 70,000 editorial board members and 200,000 reviewers.
The Project Context
The company produces high quality publications to inform the medical profession, including doctors, nurses, hospitals and medical and nursing schools, researchers and pharmaceutical companies. It now faced the challenge of fully embracing the electronic age, necessitating significant changes in working practices and in the skill sets required to remain a continuously innovative global market leader, able to develop and apply specialist knowledge creatively and profitably. This significant shift required senior level commitment to develop the change strategy and drive it forward within each leader’s business area.
The business required support to work with the management population globally, initially in the US, UK and Europe. The key deliverables were to help to identify ‘live’ Cases for Change to support the overall global change programme, and to ensure that managers had the requisite change management skills.
As a key partner/deliverer, our perspective on change and transition drew on our experience of working with client organisations’ change and transition requirements. In this instance, our client required us to focus on a core group of 400 Leaders of Change. Follow-through activity ensured the understanding and buy-in of their direct reports. The project’s diagnostic and development phases enabled us to develop a blended model of Webinar, Workshop and Coaching support, resourced internationally.
Objectives for managers included:
understanding the strategic impact of change
developing emotionally intelligent responses to people issues
recognising their responsibility to encourage their people’s commitment to change
identifying the challenges and opportunities for leadership when delivering change
agreeing the Action Plan to deliver the desired outcomes from business specific Cases for Change
agreeing on follow-through support activities.
Programmes were delivered as both a strategic and an operational intervention, designed to ensure that participants gained a clear view of available change management approaches. Highly participative and interactive workshops incorporated change facilitation diagnostics and models, as well as exercises enabling participants to explore models of change theory. Participant outputs included a clear personal change action and development plan, and a greater understanding of their own leadership strengths and development needs.
The agreed approach provided our client with a valuable opportunity to assess how to pragmatically apply acknowledged best practice to ‘close to home’ change and to transition issues relevant to Managers in support of their implementation strategies and plans.
Feedback from the Leadership Team has been very positive. All participants are focused on the skills and behaviours necessary to change the culture and meet company and client expectations, and leaders now demonstrate a greater appetite for development and change. Team and Individual Coaching assignments are continuing, and ASK® has been approached to roll-out the programme in AsiaPac.
“The Anglo-Dutch business has embarked on a slow-but-steady transformation from a company associated with a hotchpotch of trade journals and events to one providing professional information services.”
“It has definitely opened some minds in terms of their reactions to change and it was great that we got to experience it as a group.”“Slowly but surely, there has been a “sea change of perception”, as one analyst called it, as the business has regained its status as a solid [organisation] to invest in.”
Originally founded in 1919, the company was purchased in 1998 by a major European automotive group. Substantial investment after the purchase saw the workforce rise from 1,500 to 4,000. Despite the successful introduction of a new product family, however, consistent strong growth was reversed by the changing financial climate in 2008.
The company had already acknowledged that it needed to smooth its profit growth by the timed introduction of other cars to fill the gaps between product-family launches. To create a more sustainable business, greater efficiency in bringing new products to market was needed. The growth of new markets, especially China, also urged close attention to customer satisfaction: reliance on brand recognition would not be sufficient. With this in mind, a closer integration of the engineering team’s activities and behaviours was required, along with greater appreciation of and alignment with business strategy. In short, they needed to be in high performing teams.
We were invited to work with the team, using the Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile instrument. This tool was chosen in part for its cultural fit, as it is scientifically robust and uses jargon-free language. By combining individual insights with the work context, it also delivers immediate practical and commercial relevance. Used alongside a 360-degree profile, it enables a team to assess and work with the skill sets and preferences of its individuals, reviewing individual contributions, approaches to teamworking, influencing skills and behaviours, and communication patterns.
As a result of the programme, the team has a clear understanding of their collective strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and risks. They are also able to use the knowledge they gained during the days together to review actions and address some of the business imperatives that the Division’s Executive Director had outlined. Having had a mirror held up to them to show them their current behaviours more clearly, they are now able identify a range of alternatives. Individuals have taken personal responsibility for their changed behaviours and committed to holding each other to account.
With a higher quality of conversations within the overall team, improvement projects are now being tackled by cross-functional teams and the business is delivering more new products to the market without growing divisional headcount.
We were asked to attend regular away days to support the maintenance of the engineering team as a high performing team. We were also involved in quarterly team meetings to help consolidate the changes and to further integrate team development.
“We look at things differently now. We’re not siloed like we used to be, and are much better at seeking each other’s opinions and ideas.”
The Department was formed in 2005 following the merger of two previous Departments. It is one of the largest central government departments, with offices across the UK and a presence at every major port and airport. It plays a vital role in society and touches the daily lives of all of us, both as individuals and as businesses.
Many inappropriate habits were in evidence within the Department:
not putting low appraisal ratings on annual reviews because it would impact negatively on careers
tolerating ‘reasonable excuses’ from individuals for continued under performance
not taking the time to clearly define expectations
not accepting that performance management is a – if not the – critical role of senior leaders.
We understand that high performance cultures cannot be achieved without the support and active engagement of senior management. We therefore met with the Department Chairman to discuss his definition of, and personal commitment to, a high performance culture. We discussed the implications of what that meant and what it would require of him. He confirmed he was prepared to make that personal commitment.
A subsequent meeting was then held with the Executive Committee to express our belief and recommend that they had to role model what was required. This would mean that they needed to behave differently as individuals and manage their line reports appropriately. They agreed and committed to the process.
Having engaged the support of senior management, we ran a half-day event for the top 46 leaders within the Department to highlight the potential impact of a high performance culture and gain their unanimous agreement to do things differently in the future.
To embed the importance of commitment to behavioural change, we then ran a series of intensive two-day skills development workshops. The SCS who attended left with a clear understanding of the behaviours that were required from them as individuals to create a high performance culture. More specifically, each manager committed to making two or three key changes.
We then managed and monitored their implementation of these goals through our unique follow-through and learning application support software.
Our follow-through technology enables us to continually support and track participants’ progress against their development goals beyond the attendance of the workshops.
13 weeks after their workshops, participants were asked to rate the change in their effectiveness as a result of the programme: 76% rated themselves as ‘more effective’.
They were also invited to gauge the business impact of their achievements or improvements as a result of the programme: 44% said ‘some impact’, 44% ‘significant impact’ and 11% ‘very significant impact’.
“This was a valuable event – new material for me, interestingly presented.”
“The role play was useful and the members of the group were supportive and good fun to be with.”
Our original client produced plasterboard and plaster products for construction, and employed 13,000 people in the UK. During the lifetime of the programme, the organisation was acquired by a global group, employing nearly 50,000 people worldwide.
The Project Context
The client originally commissioned us to produce a three-day programme, focusing on leadership and managing performance. After the organisation’s acquisition, the programme was reviewed in the light of the need for a global approach to performance management.
Following the transition to a global operating context, we were invited to review the existing programme, specifically to:
enhance the focus on performance management
introduce new content to cover Planning for Performance (setting goals and expectations).
In addition to increasing the pace of the event, we were also required to provide detailed evaluation of the programme to provide evidence of its effectiveness and business impact.
The Solution – Programme Overview
To tackle this challenge, we revised the design to create a two-day, workshop-based programme, which incorporated use of the FIRO-B® and MBTI® psychometric instruments, a 360 degree questionnaire, exercises that explored and illuminated goal-setting and organisational behaviour, and skills practice sessions on Planning for Performance, Giving and Receiving Feedback, Coaching, and Challenging Gaps in Performance.
Pre-workshop preparations, involving the line manager, focused delegates’ participation and included preparation of a ‘real life’ case study to bring to the workshop. Follow-through was provided through the use of our unique learning transfer technology, which also measured participants’ progresses towards their individual development goals.
A European-wide audience (including delegates from Turkey, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Scandinavia) provided additional opportunities for dialogue and networking.
Evaluation and Results
Evaluation responses from participants (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being ‘excellent’) included the following:
The Challenging a Gap in Performance session will help me deal more effectively with under-performance in the workplace – 4.5
The Giving and Receiving Feedback session will help me to create a climate in which feedback is used to improve performance – 4.3
The Coaching for Performance session will help me to use coaching to improve performance in the workplace – 4.4
The Leadership Development Planning session helped me to set my personal development goals – 4.1
The programme was subsequently revised to incorporate elements of virtual and cross-cultural leadership.
Each leader was asked to evaluate the programme and the value that it added to them:
“Thank you for very supportive and fruitful session. It will definitely help me to develop myself. Especially coaching techniques and challenging CLOSE model.”
“The openness and humour makes it very easy to follow the course. The balance between theory and interaction makes it fun and helpful to practice the models.”
“Programme worked very well and the fact that thought had taken place to ensure diversity in the smaller teams was evident. I wish that I had been introduced to some of the tools used 10 – 15 years ago.”
“Very valuable training session, the extended programme brings a lot of value. Highly recommend.”
Our client is one of the world’s largest independent investment management organisations. With over 5,000 employees in 55 offices worldwide, the company has a significant presence in the institutional and retail markets across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
The Project Context
Much of the company’s growth has been achieved through the acquisition of a number of small to medium independent companies. A need was identified to bring the resulting disparate group of companies together into a cohesive whole to create a company with a shared vision, culture and leadership style.
Our client sought to implement a global leadership programme for its senior leaders to establish shared standards and common views on leadership, and to recognise the talent in its senior management cadre.
The programme also needed to help the company retain high achievers and build a talent pool from which its next generation of leaders could be selected.
For its participants, the Management Development Programme needed to:
enhance their awareness of their personal leadership strengths and development needs
develop their understanding of the impact of their leadership style
increase their understanding of other people’s perspectives, expectations and needs
help them to improve the performance of others
identify key personal development goals whose achievement would impact on organisational performance.
Our implemented design for the Management Development Programme was a four phase, 30 week behavioural change programme using MBTI®, 360 degree feedback, FIRO-B®, transformational skills development and a rigorous re-entry process using our ground-breaking ‘follow-through’ technology to improve practice and support transformational change.
Phase 1 (Pre-event): participants completed MBTI®, FIRO-B® and 360 degree feedback questionnaires and meet with their line managers to agree development priorities
Phase 2 (Workshop): a high impact experiential learning residential workshop, drawing on diagnostic tools previously completed and providing opportunity for
facilitated practice of key skills
Phase 3 (Re-entry): participants worked through a structured re-entry process supported by our unique ‘follow-through’ tool and on-line coaching
Phase 4 (360 degree feedback re-survey): participants re-surveyed their 360 degree feedback process to evaluate the extent of behavioural change.
The programme used our unique ‘follow-through’ technology to monitor progress and measure results. At the end of the programme, participants were asked to rate their change in leadership effectiveness: 91% considered themselves ‘more effective’ and the remaining 9% rated their performance as ‘much more effective’. In terms of business impact, 96% of participants said that – as a result of their efforts following the programme – there had been ‘some’ or ‘significant’ impact on their business.
Six months after the workshop, participants also repeated the initial 360 degree feedback survey and assessed five of the reviewed six leadership capability areas as having improved.
“I felt the various tools providing different perspectives on how I behaved were more interesting than a single approach – it provided a more coherent and rounded view of me.”
“… the programme gave me confidence to take actual action to improve my leadership throughout the daily job. Follow-through was also helpful for me to carry on what I should do consistently.”
“The value of focusing on the people is as important as getting the task at hand completed. Taking more time and using more patience to make others comfortable with decisions has great long term benefits.”
“All of this work is challenging and time consuming but hugely rewarding. I have come to realize that there are many important ways to add value to our organization, not just by completing important project initiatives.”
Our client is a major intergovernmental agency, with over 250 staff from over 30 member countries, many seconded by their own governments. Its governed Board of Governors is supported by an Executive Committee and led by the Secretary-General, supported by two Deputies. Its work is guided by the decisions of heads of Government and governing bodies, and in response to global developments and member countries’ needs.
The Project Context
Our client was embarking on building a performance culture to improve its management of its people. It was critical to gain leaders’ commitment that this need existed and that they had a significant role to play in spearheading improvements.
Senior leaders and managers were likely to be challenging and would need convincing of their role in managing performance and demonstrating appropriate behaviours.
We understood that its event facilitators would need to be highly experienced in working at senior level within the public sector and in responding to the challenges the audience might present.
Senior leaders and managers needed to be convinced of the imperative to develop a performance culture, accept their responsibility to act as role models for this culture to be cascaded throughout the organisation, and be able to use and apply a model for managing performance.
They also needed to share a common understanding of how to develop a performance culture, gain the skills to effectively manage performance, use coaching as a development tool, and confidently challenge under-performance without damaging personal relationships.
With considerable prior experience in running Performance Management Workshops for senior leaders in government departments, we were able to rapidly develop a one-day workshop designed to give managers a model for developing a performance culture and the main skills to manage performance within their teams.
To maximise time available during the workshop for skills practice, participants received a pre-workshop workbook to introduce the ASK® Performance Improvement Model. Two pre-course exercises also allowed them to bring a work-related input to the skill practice sessions.
Four workshops were delivered to a total audience of 31 senior leaders and managers. We used a ratio of one participant for every four participants; a member of our client's staff acted as a workshop facilitator and was briefed free of charge before workshop delivery.
Average Level 1 evaluation scores for the workshops were as follows (all scores are out of 5.0):
This workshop has been a valuable learning experience 4.4
This workshop has been an enjoyable learning experience 4.4
The learning from the workshop will be useful 4.4
“The workshop more than met my expectations. There are clear practical techniques that I shall follow up within my work.”
“The workshop was an eye-opener to the concept of ‘performance structure’ as opposed to ‘performance process’”
“The skills learnt at this workshop helps build confidence in coaching and especially challenging in situations which require it.”
The regional authority was originally formed in 1829, covers an area of over 600 square miles with a population of over 7 million, and employs over 50,000 staff and officers.
The Project Context
With the appointment of a new Commissioner of Police, there was an understanding that the Authority’s environment and expectations – and the way in which the Authority needed to interact with the public – were changing.
The Policing Pledge commitment – a set of promises to local residents on the service that the Authority would provide – encapsulated the leadership required in order to operate in a context of rapid changes to both the culture and operating scenarios.
We were appointed as a key partner deliverer to offer a different perspective on change and transition, based on our experience of working with client organisations worldwide.
The objectives for our work with Authority Command Leaders were to deliver:
recognition of their responsibility as leaders to encourage the commitment of their people to organisational change
recognition of the strategic impact of change
development of emotionally intelligent responses to people issues
recognition of the challenges and opportunities for leadership when delivering change
identification of opportunities for delegation within their own team.
The Leading Change workshop programme was both a strategic and an operational intervention, designed to ensure that participants gained a clear view of the approaches available to them in managing change at a senior level.
Highly participative and interactive event with scope for lively discussion, the workshops incorporated facilitating change diagnostics and exercises that enabled participants to explore models of change theory – drawing on our experience of operating in a change arena with a range of global organisations. Command Leaders also had a valuable opportunity to assess how to pragmatically apply the best of the best practice to ‘close to home’ change and to transition issues relevant to them in the context of implementing the Policing Pledge.
At the end of the workshop, participants had a clear personal action and development plan, and also a greater understanding of their own leadership strengths and development needs. They also gained an enhanced recognition of the differences between individuals and how these can be used for mutual benefit.
Rigorous post-event evaluation clearly confirmed the programme’s value in enabling its participants to agree and design implementation of the Policing Pledge in ways that were genuinely workable and measurable in local environments.
96% of participants rated themselves as either more or much more effective as a result of the programme, and 78% felt the business impact of their achievements and improvements would be significant or very significant.
"I think we all learned about ourselves as leaders of change.”
“The real value was in being able to take the theoretical models and assessing their fit within our own Command structure.”
“The extent of the deliverer’s knowledge and experience of managing change was staggering. They were able to put complex theories across in a very useful and ‘user friendly’ way.”
The agency plays a number of important functional and advisory roles within the national criminal justice system. It has existed since 1907 as a set of area based services, and was established in its current form in 2001.
The Project Context
After the agency launched its Living Leadership strategy to assist with the development of its current and future leaders and managers, the government outlined its intention to merge the service with another agency to create a new national body. As a result of the merger, both services were facing a period of considerable change and recognised that the response of senior executives and managers would play a crucial part in the successful transition to the new agency.
The agency identified a need to equip senior managers with the transformational skills and behaviours to lead people through organisational change, enabling them to take people forward into the new body while continuing to deliver effective performance against key business objectives.
There was a parallel need to develop senior managers’ personal leadership competence, enabling them to review their career goals, hopes and expectations after the transition.
We were appointed to develop and deliver Leaders in Transition, a four-phase 32 week behavioural change programme using MBTI®, 360 degree feedback, 1:1 Executive Coaching, transformational skills development, and a rigorous re-entry process to enable and improve practice and support transformational change.
Phase 1 (Pre-event): participants completed MBTI® and 360 degree feedback questionnaires and met with their line manager to agree development priorities
Phase 2 (Workshop): groups of 16 participants attended a high impact residential experiential learning workshop, featuring transformational business skills and a two hour 1:1 feedback session with their own Executive Coach
Phase 3 (Re-entry): participants worked through a structured re-entry process supported by our unique ‘follow-through’ tool
Phase 4 (360 degree feedback re-survey): participants used the Living Leaders Fit for the Future 360 degree feedback process to evaluate the extent of their behavioural change.
In parallel with the Leaders in Transition programme, we also implemented two parallel elements of the agency’s overall Living Leadership Change Programme:
Coaching Skills programmes and Train The Trainer Workshops to create a team of skilled trainers capable of helping managers and chiefs to become enthusiastic ‘champions’ of coaching as a route to building leadership competencies
design, delivery, analysis and facilitated feedback of a 360 degree questionnaire aligned with the Living Leadership checklist
Level 1 Evaluations on a five point scale showed participants scoring the programmes at an average of 4.4 as ‘a valuable learning experience’.
Our follow-through technology enables us to continually support and track participants’ progress against their development goals beyond the attendance of the workshops. 13 weeks after their workshops, participants were asked to rate the change in their effectiveness as a result of the programme: 84% rated themselves as ‘more effective’ and a further 8% as ‘much more effective’.
They were also asked to gauge the business impact of their achievements or improvements as a result of the programme: 46% responded ‘significant impact’ and 12% ‘very significant impact’.
“Time out to consider ‘me’ seemed extravagant but turned out to be an absolute necessity – the best two-day investment I can remember for a long time – thanks!”
“One of the best training events I have attended as there was a group activity and lots of opportunity to interact while also focusing on individual needs in 1:1 activities. Unlike other events, I was left with a real feeling of commitment to undertake the development identified with the knowledge that this will be followed up.”
“The use of a personal coach is new to me and very useful – the critical friend with no agenda other than to assist me in improving myself as a leader.”
Our client develops and manufactures rail signalling and locomotive control systems for mainline and metro-based railways across the world. A UK-based subsidiary company within a global group, it has a 140 year history and employs approximately 1,800 people worldwide.
The Project Context
Conscious of changing markets in terms of both exports and technology, our client realised that fundamental changes in approach and culture to a traditional business were required. The company’s MD also identified that the layer of management below the Board needed a greater voice in the strategic direction of the business.
A Leadership Challenge Event, held to engage senior staff in leading these cultural changes, led to the commissioning of the Fast Track Leadership Programme designed to develop the behaviours required of organisational leaders:
creating momentum and mobilising people towards a vision for the future
providing clear goals and direction for the organisation and supporting managers in aligning teams to strategy
championing change and creating enthusiasm, feelings of ownership and a desire to excel in others.
We were retained to design and deliver a customised leadership programme, using a strong behavioural focus to embed the key characteristics leadership teams. Programme content needed to be clearly aligned to context, culture and processes, and to include a strong experiential element to allow for practice of new leadership skills.
We produced a 10-month, three phase, highly practical development programme that supported participants through behaviour change.
The Launch Event workshop demonstrated senior management support. The MD set out the imperative for change and aligned the programme objectives with the business strategy, while Board Members acted as Mentors to participants throughout the programme.
Drawing on reflective exercises, diagnostic questionnaires and discussion of learning goals with their mentors, the Me and My Team workshop explored participants’ key leadership challenges and helped them plan their development actions. Each participant, supported by facilitated Action Learning Sets, subsequently delivered a personally stretching project, linked to business objectives, that addressed our client’s strategic challenges.
The Organisational Leadership workshop helped participants translate the company’s Vision and Strategy into a personal Leadership Vision. FIRO-B® was used to explore improving personal relationships, and strategic awareness and influencing skills were developed using Group Projects that provided team responses to medium/long term strategic issues. Action Learning Sets supported project delivery, enabling participants to experience different functions and build effective cross-company networks, before reporting back to Board members on individual progress and to recommend actions from the Group Projects.
We tracked participants’ progress against development goals and assessed the impact of the programmes on the business. At the end of the programme, 100% rated themselves as either ‘more’ or ‘much more effective’, and 76% felt there had been significant or very significant business impact. The growth of cross functional networks and a ‘One Company’ mindset have been commonly remarked upon benefits of the programme.
"Action learning sets – opportunity to interact with Senior Managers from around the business in a semi-formal forum. I found this very useful for a number of reasons not least because it gave me better view of the pressures others were under, i.e. I was not on my own.”
“The programme has helped me to take a much more objective and considered view of priorities (both personal and business wide). The level of ‘firefighting’ that I have been involved in over the course of the last 12 months has tended to distort my perception of the most important aspects of my role, leading to a focus on short term problems and a propensity to get involved in low level activities. I have now raised my sights, re-assessed the way that I operate and feel that I have a better opportunity to influence events rather than being driven by them.”
The company was formed in 2000 by the merger of two major companies, both previously formed by earlier mergers between major industry players.
CLIENT: Major Pharmaceutical Company
PROJECT: Management and Leadership Development
THEMES: Leadership Development
AUDIENCE: All leaders
LOCATION: UK, USA, Belgium, Singapore, Korea
The world’s second largest pharmaceutical company with a wide product portfolio, our client employs c.100,000 people globally. The company was formed in 2000 by the merger of two major companies, each of which had in turn been formed by previous mergers.
The Project Context
The company wanted to ensure continual growth and success,and knew that maximising organisational management and leadership capability would be critical. Specifically, it required leaders who could lead through change and have an impact across the globe where team members are located in different countries.
We were asked to become part of a core curriculum to develop managers and leaders in promoting the organisational strategies and high performance behaviours through programmes that would enable the company to continually improve effectiveness, impact and productivity across all functional divisions.
It was imperative that managers could achieve the best from their teams through support, motivation, development and empowerment. Leaders therefore needed to enhance their skills, develop behaviours with a positive impact, and enhance their capability to lead in complex environments with matrix, virtual, and network team structures.
Each programme needed to focus on employees’ various and distinct workplace challenges, addressing a highly intellectual audience while having a significant practical and experiential element so participants could practise and receive feedback on their developing leadership skills.
Our programmes were designed to raise participants’ awareness, inspire a willingness to develop, and provide a forum to achieve their learning goals – ultimately delivering the goals of the organisation.
The programme phases comprised:
Phase One: pre-workshop preparation, including guided self reflection and online diagnostics (MBTI®, FIRO-B® and programme-specific 360 degree feedback surveys)
Phase Two: a development workshop combining reflection, discussion, analysis, practice, feedback and coaching – from both peers and facilitators
Phase Three: follow-through activity using technology and coaching to reinforce, record and maintain new behaviours and develop key skills.
Our follow-through technology enabled us to continually support and track participants’ progress against their development goals beyond workshop attendance, allowing our clients to assess business impact. Participants rated themselves as ‘more effective’ as a result of the programme, with 70% indicating that they had made ‘significant progress’ on their goals 12 weeks after the programme.
"Becoming aware of my attitudes (strengths and weaknesses) and the follow-up of the training obliges us to act after the seminar; obliges us to put in practice what was learned."
“I found the pre-work and the course itself very helpful as a tool to identify the areas in my work life that I needed to improve. The coaching has been very helpful – both for the content of the 1:1 sessions, but also to highlight just how coaching is meant to be performed […] I have certainly made more changes following this course than from many others.”
One of the world’s top research institutions, funded by public research monies from 20 member states, our client’s mission embraces scientific research, providing vital services to scientists in member states, technology transfer, and the development of new instruments and methods. Research is conducted by approximately 85 independent groups based in five units in the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
An international, innovative and interdisciplinary organisation, the organisation has 1,400 employees from 60 nations representing disciplines that include biology, physics, chemistry and computer science.
Scientist leaders are typically employed on rolling 3 year contracts, with an expectation that they develop substantial professional standing through publication and presentations. While their innovations are critical in attracting external funding, they face a challenge in balancing this with a need to lead teams of junior scientists and to develop their management skills.
We were commissioned to develop a Leadership Development intervention that would appeal to highly intelligent and critical individuals working in research, academic and supporting roles. The intervention would need to have both immediate impact and a lasting effect in developing greater leadership capability and a coaching culture to support talent management and succession planning.
We designed and developed a Leadership Essentials programme with three fundamental components:
Enhancing self-reflection through the use of psychometrics to develop self-awareness and awareness of impact on others
Introducing leaders to a range of tools and models that would underpin the development of their leadership skills
Simulation exercises to provide opportunities for safe practice, supported by real-time feedback on both performance and behaviours that would serve to begin the learning transfer process and the embedding of new skills and behaviours.
The programme has been run in both the UK and Germany for six years, using 2 facilitators for each delegate group of 12.
Feedback to date has been highly positive and our client is exploring opportunities to work with ASK® to develop additional follow-through activities and interventions.
“It really made me stop and think in terms of reflecting on my own behaviour and having a greater self-awareness of how I lead others.”
“I found the Leadership Essentials programme really powerful and would like to do more with ASK to help me further develop my leadership skills.”
“Working with real examples was a really effective way of bringing my understanding to life.”
Our client was created in 2001 following the merger of a number of Departments and Agencies, with the objective of providing a single continuum of services to the public during their working lives and subsequent retirement. Following initial integration, the organisation’s Executive Committee identified a need to adopt a common set of values, and a consistent set of leadership behaviours to support them.
A Leadership Development programme was required for all Senior Managers in the organisation and its agencies (including Executive Committee members), to help them lead the necessary organisational culture change, realise the values and achieve the business objectives. We were commissioned to design and deliver an effective Leadership Development programme for 240 Senior Civil Service (SCS) members.
In concert with a project steering group drawn from within the Department, we designed a six month programme of activities called ‘Leading the Vision’. The programme featured a two-day residential event, a ‘back to the shop-floor’ experience and six months of Executive Coaching.
The residential event comprised practical activities designed to raise awareness of personal leadership style and featured a two hour developmental session with an Executive Coach, leading to the creation of a personal development action plan. The ‘Customer Experience’ enabled senior staff from both policy and operational roles to spend five days working with customers in a ‘hands-on’ capacity. To complete the package, each participant was given a budget of six hours of coaching with their Executive Coach.
Participants included the whole of the Top and Senior Management Teams (including the Permanent Secretary), all Executive Committee members and all the other SCS members of the Department.
Post-event evaluation questionnaires showed the following responses:
Programme meets or exceeds personal expectations and development needs – 97%
Uptake of subsequent Executive Coaching sessions – 98%
Substantial increase in personal awareness of impact on others – 94%
Now have clear plan to develop personal behaviours to support values – 95%
Relevance and value of one to one feedback and coaching received – 97%
Relevance and value of the skills practice content – 94%
Excellent networking opportunity and wider understanding of Departmental business – 91%
Rank order of value of Programme elements (Top 5):
One-to-one Feedback and Executive Coaching
‘Leading performance’ skills practice
Comprehensive programme design and content
High quality of tutors and coaches
Quality of support materials
"Best personal development event I have attended" – HR Director
"Most worthwhile development experience of my career" – DG
"I now understand myself and what I need to do to improve" – Head of Division
"I am now determined to live the organisation’s values and understand how to" - Department Head
Our client is an international consultancy and construction company that employs over 3,000 people across 65 countries, with a turnover of £850m. Its core business activities include programme and project management, cost consultancy, construction delivery and facilities management.
A 2010 Employee Engagement Survey, although positive in many respects, showed room for improvement in the way that individuals were motivated, engaged and led by their managers.
We designed and delivered a suite of three leadership programmes aimed at raising awareness and increasing skills in the management and leadership of people and performance. The programmes were aimed at new leaders, leaders of teams and leaders of leaders.
Specific activities to improve engagement included regular 1:1 meetings, setting clear expectations, showing an interest in development and career aspirations, encouraging new ideas and treating people as individuals.
The programmes raised awareness of the difference between managing and leading, of diversity in work styles and preferences, and of leadership impact, and provided leaders with practical tools to use in setting objectives, coaching, addressing performance gaps and influencing stakeholders.
83 leaders participated in the first year. In the post-programme follow-up, 94% assessed the programme as having a positive impact on their leadership performance. Improvements in giving feedback, delegation, coaching, frequency and quality of communication and career development were highlighted.
"There has been a change in the way I now manage individuals. The programme allowed me to develop tools that can be applied to different people and different scenarios. I learnt that it’s the little gestures and feedback that make the difference."
"Management of my own workload through empowering those around me. It seems I was underutilising them and was not fully aware of or realising their potential. I now encourage others to take ownership of specific tasks which allows me to take ownership of other things."
"The tools and techniques introduced on the programme have been very useful, but these are not necessarily in day to day use, so the most useful aspect of the programme has been the increased awareness of how my attitude and behaviour can impact on the people around me. I feel that I have become more professional in the way I do my job – this can only be positive for the business."
Our client is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation that specialises in international educational and cultural opportunities. Its overseas network extends to 233 locations in 107 countries and territories.
The Project Context
In order to help clarify its HR policies, practices and systems, the organisation introduced a Strategy for Staff programme. One element of the programme – the Performance Management and Professional Development Project (PMPD) – was intended to provide the organisation with a globally consistent performance management system.
One of the project’s key objectives was to support and encourage the development of a feedback culture to strengthen the performance management process in the context of a worldwide organisation with a high level of movement between locations and roles.
We worked with the organisation’s PMPD Project Manager to design 360 degree questionnaires to reflect competences at three levels of management, and set up a database with web-enabled questionnaire completion so that employees around the world could take part, supported with 1:1 coaching.
The process was initiated at Director level, although subsequent phases were opened to senior managers across the world on a voluntary basis.
As a result of the 360 degree feedback process and associated coaching and feedback, managers benefited from:
objective feedback and development on their performance in their current job
increased self-awareness of behaviour and styles
identification of areas for improvement
informed thinking about career options and most appropriate roles
comparison of self-perceptions with those of others
creating action plans to improve weaknesses
gaining the confidence to know and build on strengths.
Evaluation and Outcomes
Individuals took part for a variety of personal reasons – for example, to assess their learning needs prior to applying for a new post or promotion, to check their level of progress in a role, or to gain further insight into a relationship issue.
As the programme rolled out, some participants also undertook repeat 360 degree feedback to check their personal development, or to gain fresh insight from new colleagues and peers after a change of role.
Although individual benefits were as diverse as the staff taking part, a Level 1 evaluation in Phase 3 of the programme showed that participants scored 4.1 (out of 5.0) when asked to identify the extent to which the sought benefits had been achieved.
We were also able to provide the organisation with a series of evaluation analyses, highlighting organisational themes identified from participants’ evaluation scores and comments.
“I was able to identify my own strengths and weaknesses as well as putting the then working environment into some perspective.”
“Helped me recognise examples of things I already do well so that I can try to do these more consistently.”
“It was valuable to see how my answers will match with the others. Am I able to see myself correctly? I was very pleased with the outcome.”
Our client employs over 130,000 employees operating in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
CLIENT: Telecoms company SECTOR: Energy PROJECT: Telecommunications THEMES: International Assignments, Career Development AUDIENCE: Executive Level Leaders LOCATION: UK, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia, Czech Republic
The organisation is an established telecoms business with over 130,000 employees operating in UK, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia and Czech Republic, and operates graduate programmes across these territories along with a Graduate Academy based in Barcelona. The parent group is established in 24 countries.
The Project Context
A range of coaching providers had previously been contracted across the region, with a low level of co-ordination resulting in limited information being available to our client regarding the coaching being provided (eg types of coaching, goals and alignment with corporate objectives, sessions per assignment, costs) and no clear picture of business impact and personal development outcomes.
To begin to rationalise provision and create an enhanced professional offering, the organisation therefore decided to source an external coaching supplier for 250 Executive Level leaders. We developed two optional packages as a framework for Executive Coaching delivery, which including detailed management information and follow-up reporting.
Two strands of coaching were delivered through the programme:
Career coaching, exploring coachees’ personal values and individual development interests and providing opportunities to focus on their own development; this was delivered using a workbook for self-reflective activities, followed by a series of coaching sessions
Coaching to support international assignments: graduates within the organisation are given opportunities to work in other countries, and we provided coaching sessions to enable them to explore their development aims and goals and maximise the opportunities to realise them in relation to the assignment.
The Executive Coaching package includes use of MBTI® and FIRO-B®, alongside a bespoke 360 degree feedback instrument, and use of our unique follow-through technology to support coaches in embedding new behaviours in their daily working.
Our client is a 1,500 strong construction supplies business with 6 UK locations, and a subsidiary of a 225,000-strong global conglomerate.
CLIENT: Construction Materials Company SECTOR: Construction PROJECT: Creating a High Performance Leadership Group THEMES: Executive Coaching AUDIENCE: Executive Team/Senior Leadership Group LOCATION: UK
A 1500 strong construction supplies business with six UK locations, and a subsidiary of a 225,000-strong global conglomerate, our client held a Leadership Conference to communicate business strategy and identify ways to overcome barriers to its achievement.
As a result, a methodology for co-ordinating the actions designed to achieve this vision was introduced to the Leadership Group, and subsequently honed and driven through a series of events over the next two years. As part of the roll-out, two key areas were identified in terms of Leadership Group behaviours:
Silo Mentality – many leaders were focused too strongly on their immediate team and responsibilities, paying insufficient attention to their wider organisational leadership role. Narrowly focused reward mechanisms re-enforced this behaviour
Leadership Style – too great an emphasis was being placed on a ‘command and control’ style at the expense of engagement, communication and coaching
We provided two integrated solutions. Firstly, we worked closely with the client to establish Coaching Networks, set up across geographical and functional lines to work on the required behaviours and skills. Beginning with the Executive Team, this approach was cascaded out to the rest of the forty-strong Leadership Group.
Quarterly one-day Coaching Network events, combining input from an ASK® facilitator with an Action Learning Set approach to working on key organisational issues and projects, were structured on the following basis:
working with individual and collective agendas on the issues raised by Leadership
input sessions and practical exercises from a topic menu including: coaching, high performing teams, influencing, leadership and performance management
using psychometrics and 360 degree feedback to generate momentum behind self-awareness in the context of working together in these groups/teams
The HR Director and ASK® Account Director annually agreed key themes and messages for the groups, which then prioritised their time to achieve improved performance.
Secondly, where additional individual Executive Coaching was seen to be required, we provided independent coaches for the following audiences:
Board appointees, to provide support members of the Leadership Group in their transition to the Executive Team
existing Board members who were technically very capable without being fully effective in leading others
identified key talents in the Leadership Group who wished to implement their career development plan
external Leadership Group recruits to help them to adapt to a new culture and maximise their impact
members of the Leadership Group with functional roles seeking to enhance and extend their influence
Annual Employee Survey results were used to focus the Coaching Networks on particular areas. The following year’s survey showed strong improvements across the board, particularly in Overall Satisfaction and Customer Focus, despite workforce reductions.
Participant ratings (on a scale of 0 – 5) from the coaching cohorts clearly showed that, in their opinions, the events ‘clarified my role as a leader in actively re-enforcing the right behaviours for delivery of higher performance of across the business’ (4.5) and ‘helped me to be aware of my influence and impact on others as a leader’ (4.3).
"I really enjoyed role-playing on coaching styles and then discussing real life issues to help others."
"This one day event took us from complete confusion to clarity over the mentor role."
Our client had acquired a number of regional businesses in the previous decade and built a UK network of 70+ bus depots, employing c. 20,000 people and turning over in excess of £1bn pa. The company successfully met profit targets by reducing costs from merged acquisitions and a relentless focus on KPI management.
The company realised that ten years of cost cutting had evolved a management culture that emphasised KPIs and micro-management but was not conducive to the required customer-focused culture. In particular, it recognised that a behaviour shift at senior and middle manager levels was required to deliver a culture of:
building strong teams
engaging and empowering people
inspiring great performance
We were asked to partner with the Chief Operating Officer to design and deliver a culture change programme with the following objectives:
to communicate the need to ‘up the game’ of local leadership to create a culture with a greater focus on customer service
to develop a better awareness of best practice in both leadership and customer service behaviours for Bus Leaders, and close personal gaps against this new awareness
to provide tools and techniques – through experiential learning, practice and feedback from skilled coaches – that would deliver the required behavioural changes
to provide greater empowerment to local management teams to enable their people to bring ‘Better Journeys for Life’ into reality in their local markets.
The programme was designed for multiple learning sets of 5-7 people, each working with a coach who also provided each set member with individual telephone coaching after the workshop. In addition, a Lead Facilitator provided learning inputs during the workshops and liaises with senior sponsors, who were invited to support the programme.
The company started to see changes in its business performance within six months of the beginning of the programme. These changes included an increase in the number of depots assessed as delivering the required standard of operational performance, and an overall growth in customer numbers.
At the end of the follow through period, participants were surveyed to assess their views on the value of the programme. They reported the following average responses for the overall view of the impact on them as leaders (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being ‘excellent’):
The programme has helped me improve my effectiveness – 4.1
The programme helped me to take ownership for my own development – 4.6
Formed as a result of a Cabinet Office report, our client organisation came into being in 2008 as a result of the merger of the roles of an existing agency with two functions from a separate government agency (whose work continued). The agency has a total staff of 25,000 people.
The Project Context
In the context of a newly formed organisation that incorporated existing functions from another public sector agency, the Leadership Programme was a key component in delivering the new organisation’s leadership and management development strategy. It focused on developing the leadership capability of Senior Civil Servants in order to better deliver the agency’s business objectives.
The Leadership Development Programme needed to create a greater sense of accountability among senior managers, build on their capabilities and experience, and focus on the development of critical leadership skills and behaviours, including:
self-awareness and personal effectiveness
taking responsibility and carrying risk
leading in transition and leading change
strategic thinking – and making the space for it
innovation and creativity
engaging teams and partners
communicating better with teams, customers and stakeholders, the public, Ministers, Parliament and the media.
The overall Leadership Programme was a 10 month development journey, to which participants dedicated an average of 2 days each month.
In addition to workshops, personal Breakthrough Challenge projects and Board Level presentation, the programme included 1:1 coaching, the use of MBTI® and FIRO-B®, and a bespoke 360 degree instrument around the agency’s Leadership Behaviours conducted both before and after the programme.
Team Coaching was provided via Action Learning Sets, each of which worked on a group project to influence key stakeholders and present recommendations for a strategic change across the whole organisation.
The effects of improved leadership saw productivity increase by 35% in some areas, with operational teams reaching their targets. This was achieved through introducing new processes, greater team cohesion, use of coaching techniques to empower staff and communicating a shared vision.
New recruitment processes resulted in a reduction in recruitment turn around times and improved capability planning provided consequent savings in staff costs. Three staff successfully applied for new Grade 6 posts within the organisation. One staff member directly attributed the Springboard Leadership Programme to his development of the skills and self confidence he required to progress.
"Very helpful to step back from everyday tasks to analyse performance/developmental areas.”
“The most beneficial management programme against all others I’ve attended; I was able to use the elements immediately in the workplace which supported me with the changes I was experiencing.”
“I have really grown in confidence; this has been demonstrated in meetings and was shown on my 360 by my peers and direct reports.”
“A fantastic eight months during the most challenging months of my working life. I feel happier to come to work now.”
Our client is the world’s oldest communications company with over 170,000 employees’ world-wide. While they are proud of their heritage, they recognised that to remain successful they would need to exploit their technology to underpin their business, generate revenues and minimise costs. To achieve this, they also realised they would need to continue to develop their people.
The Project Context
The company understood how the world was changing – for them, their customers and individuals – and that they needed to out-perform competitors in delivering exceptional crossfunctional and international customer service in a complex, rapidly-changing environment.
To address these challenges, the company re-launched its talent management programme, Talent Academy, with the objectives of:
accelerating talent pool leaders’ capability to be customer-connected and inspiring – and to be able to coach for performance
creating a pipeline of highly skilled leaders, able to coach for performance across multi-national virtual teams and ready to be deployed internationally
creating opportunities for Talent Academy participants to reflect on – and understand how to actively progress in – their careers across both functions and national borders.
The company identified a need for a five-day staff development programme as part of their six month development journey, and we were appointed as a niche supplier for this key component of their talent management initiative.
Our 20-week programme addressed leadership styles, management skills and personal development, and included a five-day residential event.
Before the event, participants completed two psychometric questionnaires and an on-line 360 degree feedback tool. They also discussed their individual programme objectives with their line manager and confirmed key organisational objectives for which they were responsible or involved, as these provided a focus for their leadership development activity.
The residential event included a unique leadership simulation exercise, 1:1 coaching and counselling, and integrated close behavioural observation with the results of psychometric questionnaires and in-depth peer feedback. Participants gained a detailed understanding of their leadership strengths and development needs, and the impact of their leadership style on others. They also left with a clear personal action and development plan that detailed the behavioural changes that would transform their ability to achieve testing business objectives.
Our unique follow-through technology supported participants for a 13-week post-event period as they implemented their personal development plans. It also enabled our client to track participants’ progress against their development goals and assessed the impact of the programmes on the business.
Participants’ self-evaluations were highly positive. 98% rated their change in effectiveness as a result of the programme and their subsequent efforts as ‘more/much more effective’, while 60% deemed the business impact of their achievements and improvements to be ‘significant or very significant’.
“Having attended other leadership development courses previously I can safely say that this was the best one I have attended and I hope to have the opportunity to attend another programme in future.”
“I learnt more about myself last week than I thought was possible in such a short period of time and yet that learning will be invaluable in helping to shape my future career choices and development.”
Operating a range of facilities and services on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, our client has been building the largest concentration of nuclear expertise in Europe since the 1960s. The workforce of 10,000 includes apprentices and graduates as well as many of the world’s most experienced and highly regarded nuclear workers, meeting the organisation’s needs from conventional business functions to highly specialised decommissioning and engineering activities.
Following the introduction of key leadership behaviour expectations across operational areas, we were invited to continue this work by coaching leaders in all functional and operational areas of the business.
Having received regular reviews by the National Audit Office and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) that urged our client to embark on a significant culture change, the outcome of our coaching was to enable this change.
The focus of our coaching activity was on supporting leaders in living the values of the organisation to enhance its capability as a leading commercial and cost effective business. We worked with the organisation’s top 250 leaders across multiple sites, providing executive coaching, ‘in the moment’ feedback and coaching skills training.
The coaching was greatly sought after, enabling individuals and teams to actively apply their personal goals within the context of the organisation. There was a measurable shift to new ways of working, with leaders taking active responsibility for leading by example and role-modelling the necessary behaviours to create a high performing workforce.
Client Feedback and Reviews
Regular client discussions and reviews showed significant progress against the project objectives, with visible differences being seen within the leadership population.
As a result of our work, we were asked to attend regular executive meetings as objective observers, provide feedback to the wider organisation of emerging themes in terms of both effective and ineffective leadership behaviours and activities, and offer guidance on subsequent stages of organisational development.
Following the completion of the two year coaching contract, we were asked to support the on-going performance improvement of staff across the organisation.
In response to a survey questionnaire question, ‘In which of the following areas (if any) did you achieve positive results?’, coaches responded as follows:
Coaching and developing others – 74%
Effective communication – 68%
Leading by example – 68%
“For me it was the expertise of the coach in taking the feedback from the 360 and helping me to understand it and work through to identify my own action plan.”
“I gained confidence/clarity that I am generally doing the right thing, it helped me focus on areas which will/have made a significant improvement on my work.”
Originally founded in 1948, our client is one of the largest marketing organisations in the world. A global creative agency, with subsidiary companies that specialise in consumer, corporate, healthcare, technology and social marketing and public affairs, it operates over 60 offices in locations across the world.
The Project Context
The company organised a week-long learning festival event, held in London for staff from all divisions and levels (including creative directors, account managers, sales, finance and managerial positions). Over this period, a wide range of suppliers were invited to provide 26 individual learning sessions on a broad range of topics.
In response to this invitation, we designed and delivered two 90 minute sessions.
The first of these, Creativity and Innovation, was aimed at encouraging people to challenge pre-conceptions and current thinking. How, for example, do organisations become market disrupters, and is it possible to learn how to be a creative type? Participants took part in an interactive, fun challenge designed to identify the principles of creative thinking and strategic innovation. This was followed by an interactive overview and practice of various creative techniques and innovation strategies.
The second session, The Amygdala Hijack, drew on the impact of neuroscience on workplace behaviour and focused on the effects of the physiological and cognitive ‘fight or flight’ responses. By introducing workplace scenarios, participants were able to explore what happens when these responses are triggered and then practise some easily accessible and effective techniques for managing these autonomic responses. The session included:
the evolution and physiology of our brain
why we have emotions and how they work
the impact of being able to delay gratification and manage your emotions
techniques on how to self-regulate and manage your emotions.
The learning festival was a significant success, and is now likely to become an annual event. In response to the sessions that we delivered, we have since been invited to submit a proposal for a three-day leadership programme exploring topics that include creative flow, biofeedback and courageous conversations, and decoding personality and character to increase self-awareness and understanding of personal impact.
“I was at your Amygdala Hijack session last week. Cracking stuff! I really love this area and think it has a big place in User Experience. ”