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.
For over 10 years, we had been successfully delivering a leadership programme for regional and country managers within either transversal or line management positions across Northern Europe. We were subsequently commissioned by our client to embark on an exciting new project.
Our brief was to transform the leadership 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 to training.
In parallel, the regional HR team recognised that there had been a fundamental shift in the business leaders’ development needs, which corresponded to the complexities associated with influencing and collaborating in the context of culturally diverse virtual and remote teams within a matrix organisation. We were asked to re-design elements of the programme in order to address these newly identified needs.
We worked in close partnership with the Northern European Regional HR Team to design and deliver a 16-week blended learning leadership development journey – The Effective Leader – that addresses how to work across a matrix organization and be influential even when one has no line management power or physical presence.
The pilot programme was launched and consisted of the following phases:
- Line Manager and Learner Engagement
- Weeks 1-7: Online learning and 360 feedback
- Week 8: 3-day face-to-face workshop
- Weeks 9-15: Online collaboration and support
- Week 16: Virtual Action Learning Sets
Line Manager and Learner Engagement
In order to ensure that Line Managers were fully involved in and supportive of the programme, 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 during the leadership journey. After the webinar, Line Managers were provided with support templates to use when agreeing learning objectives with and coaching their learners.
Before embarking on their leadership development journey, each learner was fully briefed about the programme through an engaging online video session that was designed and delivered by our programme facilitators.
Weeks 1-7: Online learning
Learners completed seven weeks of online learning on our engaging and interactive digital learning platform. The online learning content was designed to complement the activities that would be addressed during a face-to-face workshop. Learners spent approximately 90 minutes each week completing activities on a variety of topics linked to the behavioural objectives of the programme, which included:
- Understanding self
- Managing self
- Interacting with others
- Collaborating across the business
- Leading through influence
In Week 1, learners completed a customised 360 degree feedback questionnaire, designed to reflect the behavioural objectives of the programme. Later in this programme phase, each participant received 1.5 hours of facilitated feedback to help them explore and interpret their 360 degree feedback report.
Learners were also introduced to and registered to use an online discussion forum, led by our facilitator, which enabled learners to virtually meet, interact and share with their peers throughout the online learning journey.
At the end of this phase and before attending the Workshop, each learner took part in 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 experiential workshop gave learners an opportunity to practise the skills they had 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 from facilitators and peers.
In order to ensure that the workshop was a memorable, interactive and enjoyable experience, learners were offered fun, collaborative leisure and recreational activities to enable them to engage with one another outside of the learning sessions. As a result, learners felt a greater connection to their colleagues and left the workshop feeling more confident to interact with each other virtually during the subsequent phases of the programme.
The workshop culminated in an opportunity for learners to reflect on their learning to date, review their Personal Development Plan and refine their individual learning priorities.
Weeks 9-15: Online Collaboration and Support
Following the workshop, participants undertook seven weeks of workplace-based informal learning, using the online discussion forum to share and discuss knowledge, tools, experiences and challenges. Virtual peer to peer coaching sessions were organised to provide regular feedback on the situations being faced. The forum was moderated by our facilitator to continue the learning momentum, support learners in practising and embedding skills, and encourage social learning through peer-to-peer collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Week 16: Line Manager Meeting and Virtual Action Learning Sets
In the final week of the programme, facilitated Virtual Action Learning Sets enabled learners to meet with their groups, present their progress towards their personal learning goals 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 as a result of their leadership development journey.
On completion of the programme, each learner received recognition for their commitment to the programme and their success towards their learning goals.
Evaluation and Results
- 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.”