Our journeyCase Studies
We view ourselves as an extension of our clients and love seeing them succeed.
Here is a sample of how we approach working with them and the results we help them achieve.
This London-based financial technology service firm had grown exponentially over the previous year. It had to promote and hire people to senior management roles, revealing skill gaps in leadership, resulting in a loss of high performing employees and a drop in employee engagement scores. In addition, evidence of duplicate activity and inconsistencies in directional messaging began to surface.
With over a thousand employees based across the globe, the firm needed to sustain a competitive edge by ensuring faster, cutting edge technology was developed and delivered to its clients. In order to sustain this value proposition, the CEO and executive team recognised the need to create a consistently credible leadership language, focused on employees as customers.
We worked with the executive team and HR to define “what success looks like”, jointly developing an agile leadership language, transferable across divisions and the globe. A blended program inclusive of workshops, executive coaching, follow-up reviews and webinars, as well as cross-company peer coaching.
- Working with a representative group of managers, developed a core set of leadership competencies.
- We then agreed to a toolkit and program design that would best fit with the firm’s culture and way for the learning to stick.
- Outlined an integrated program that would ‘go beyond a series of workshops. In other words, learning would be collapsed with on-the-job performance.
- The program included, “conversation-based” workshops, feedback loops, on-the-job development plans and measures.
- To complement the learned coaching skills, managers were paired up with peers to peer-coach each other, supporting their learning journeys.
Starting from the top, eight cohorts of 30 peer groups experienced the following program:
- Online assessments, focused on self-awareness and providing participants with a baseline understanding of their strengths to leverage and develop priorities, based on the newly developed competencies.
- Webinar-based orientation and “connection” sessions.
- Workshops focused on creating a structured conversation, focusing on developing coaching and conflict management.
- On-the-job development plans supported by executive coaching.
- Internal peer-coaching.
- Follow-up internally led sessions to review progress against development and performance measures.
did we nail it?
- Employee engagement increased by 22% in the year following launch and the firm’s client service index improved by a significant 31%.
- Management commitments made during the workshop were met by 82% of participants. The program is now in year three driven by how it has facilitated knowledge sharing and “healthy-conflict”- based innovation.
“I have attended a number of management programs during my career. This is the first one that was designed around our culture. I enjoyed building relationships with people I only ‘transacted’ with before and that I know that my employees are happier and more energised as a result of what I have put in place.”
Change & Transition
A large oil refinery was instructed by head office to reduce operational staffing hours by 60% in order to remain financially viable.
The refinery was going to be closed if it did not make the operational cuts. However, following a previous reduction in staff, safety-related incidents increased by 35%. This latest directive resulted in threats of strike action across other refineries and aggressive union action.
We proposed and rolled out a program that was inclusive and driven by respected and influential operational staff. Critical staff cuts would be left to those on the ground and “not the white collars in their tower”.
created a change team
We trained two parallel groups of employees:
- One to identify where the operational changes needed to be made, whilst critically obtaining buy-in from their peers
- The second focused purely on safety, involving the local fire station and emergency services in the conversation. In parallel, consulting within the refinery to put a safety proposal together.
- Over a three-week period, both teams consulted with their peers and external stakeholders, checking in to a “central station” every morning and evening.
- Teams would go through a process of proposing, taking feedback and re-proposing to staff, external stakeholders and company executives.
refinery downsize & safety proposal
- A final proposal was built with extensive buy-in and the safety diligence conducted
- This proposal did not focus on cutting specific roles but how the refinery could reduce hours equitably across the team.
did we nail it?
The refinery met the operational requirements, with an improvement in safety results over the following two quarters.
The excellent result was largely attributed to the levels of deep trust that were created during a significantly stressful time, amongst operational teams as well as between the “white collar” executive, operational staff and unions.
“I am humbled. I underestimated the smarts of my (operations) staff and never realised how much potential they had to act as owners of the refinery. They realised we needed to make the cuts to survive and delivered a result that no one else could have.”
It is a great problem to have – growth. This start-up was now growing up into a medium-sized company, experiencing high demand for its exceptional service and product portfolio.
The challenge that quickly surfaced was that its entrepreneurial founders were not equipped to manage larger teams, with spread across Asia and more layers of management. The company was beginning to struggle with maintaining its “intimate” approach to customer service, whilst internal conflict started to surface.
The entrepreneurial approach to “in-corridor” team conversations was now becoming redundant, and directional communication was lacking.
The executive team started to have some serious disagreements resulting in internal competition between departments and their employees.
Reframe the culture of the company retaining its entrepreneurial spirit, without becoming a bureaucratic beast, and implementing values-based practices that would facilitate communication and trust.
program design & roll-out
- We first did a reality check with employees about what was going on and synthesised the causes.
- We created a “distributive leadership model”, meaning that accountabilities were redrawn with some shared responsibilities and ownership across departments.
- Values were revisited and conversations across the company were conducted to:
- Identify how those values manifested in behaviours.
- Ensure employees “announce” how they were going to live the values with corresponding commitments.
did we nail it?
- Those executives that embraced the new style of leadership were retained and the balance chose to part ways.
- Based on employee engagement feedback, employees were much clearer about what the new “We Are Ethically Entrepreneurial” culture meant, and retention of high potential employees and critical roles improved by 60%.
- The “customer intimacy”unique branding of the company was retained but with a new approach to it.
“(People Priority) did not take the standard consulting approaching that I was expecting, with a set of PowerPoint slides at the end. It was really a conversation and the process helped us see each other as the human beings we are, involving our ‘brains’ and being open.
Employees further down the line seem more excited as they were involved and truly feel a part of our new direction.”
A prominent legal publishing conglomerate was facing two challenges:
- It was falling behind in balancing revenue traditional paper-based publishing with digital.
- Ensuring digital was user friendly and attractive for its traditional users such as barristers who preferred paper-based material.
The publisher was facing competitive pressure from newcomers, bringing with them new technologies including their approach to sales of their products.
The CEO was facing pushback for directional change given the traditional nature of legal publishing. She was concerned about not getting the buy-in from employees who were respected in the industry.
Develop a “Front End Customer Strategy” (FECS) involving traditional customers, faculty and students in driving a new direction for the client, involving external stakeholders in the solution.
- Videotaped 25 influential customers on what information was important to them and what was missing.
- Involved these customers, senior leaders and knowledge experts in a series of strategy workshops to define:
- A new purpose for legal publishing.
- Ways of working in the industry, including interactions between the client and their customers.
- Top five goals to achieve this newly defined purpose.
- Constraints to meeting the goals with corresponding solutions.
- Defined ownership, measures and actions for key individuals.
did we nail it?
The company instantly become the publisher of choice for all the academics and legal professionals involved in the development of that strategy. In addition, a trial product was launched that became the benchmark for how to integrate traditional forms of publishing with digital access to information.
“I was initially nervous about the exposure that we would create by involving in the process but finally, we have a plan, and everyone is aligned on what we need to achieve and how we get there. I am particularly proud that my team each announced their personal commitments, in terms of outcomes as well as sticking to our values.”
A global networks and information B2B services company knew that to remain ahead of its competitors, it needed to have stronger partnerships with its customers.
The client wanted to be seen as the trusted vendor and more importantly, the consultative partner of choice.
Our client wanted to transition from a “solution” selling approach to a “challenger” coaching-driven one, transforming its relationships with customers.
We had to change the sales culture of this client and that included how they were internally structured, the type of sales skills, and how the client was structured to interact with its customers.
- Develop a new set of “job families”; key skills required to be an effective sales coach, with competency requirements varying depending on the type of customer.
- Benchmark where current customer-facing employees were against each of the skills and competencies.
- Performance and development conversations conducted with these employees, led by their managers and supported with coaching skills development.
- Conducted 2-day workshops with sales staff mapping out “challenger sales” strategies for their key customers.
- Success measures articulated with coaching support.
did we nail it?
In a vendor rankings study conducted by an external consulting firm, our client jumped five rankings within eight months. Anecdotally, the culture changed, with a greater focus on the external customer.
“My relationships with my enterprise customers have changed; they are constantly picking up the phone to me to ask for my opinion. In fact, I feel like their trusted executive coach.”