Case study: Transforming the development of managers

by | Nov 13, 2017 | Case Studies, Evidence for Change, Featured

A UK based global branding agency had doubled in size over two years and experienced a recent restructuring of its internal leadership. The client has worked directly with clients within the Retail and FMCH sectors for over 20 years, including a number of household names.

Finding itself subject to increasing industry demand, the agency decided to invest in its 48 managers to equip them to deal with challenges that can arise from periods of rapid and un-forecasted growth.

Organisational growth had highlighted that, with a number of managers situated across three different sites, ‘mini cultures’ had been created, causing a difference in output, quality and motivation.

Bray Leino Learning were brought in to deliver their award-winning, ILM-endorsed Management Development Programme that would unite managers under a set of common aims and equip them with the skills needed to manage their people and themselves effectively.

The Problem

Senior management acknowledged that, with no pre-existing HR or L&D structure, most managers had never received any formal training or support. This meant that there was a clear skills gap to effectively manage themselves and others – leading to signs of stress and decreased quality and output in work.

The HR Director highlighted that there were definite skills gaps in leading and managing, performance management, coaching, self-management, successful meetings and delegation.

Objectives of the project

  •         Reduce stress levels within the management team
  •         Improve organisational output
  •         Increase quality levels of work produced
  •         Create a consistent culture across all agency sites

The solution

An LNA was carried out using focus groups with a selection of delegates, some of their customers and their line managers. This identified identifying the key knowledge and skills that were required for the solution.

The programme was tailored to include the organisational culture and key objectives, and consisted of three two-day residential sessions. This was delivered to cross-functional cohorts, which encouraged networking and engaged the learners from initial design stage right through to completion.

The benefit of this style of delivery allowed the managers to build strong relationships with their peers, and set and achieve clear action plans during the breaks between two-day sessions.

The challenges

One of the challenges faced when devising the programme was accounting for each of the disparate cultures and delivering a solution to suit all types of learners. Senior stakeholders wanted to see clear ROI for all of the objectives, and the long-term impact that these would have. Juggling this with the increased workloads of teams, and the sensitive issue of high stress levels for some managers, meant that the programme needed to be delivered delicately yet effectively.

How challenges were overcome

Carrying out a learning needs analysis focus group at an early stage enabled the managers to recognise, for the first time, that how they undertook their role was impacting the results they were getting and that they might benefit from some development.

This was done in such a way and that managers became excited and interested, and keen to attend the programme later on.

In order to tackle the challenge of disparate cultures, the peer-to-peer network cohorts were carefully selected. This enabled managers to learn from each other and establish a clear route to success. It also meant that a long-term support network was created, allowing for regular reviews and discussions on how to overcome challenges.

The challenge of tracking ROI was put to the managers themselves. With the aim to build commercial acumen in each of the managers, they were tasked with tracking their own successes and ROI during, and on completion of the six-day programme. Upon completion of the programme, each manager was required to present this to key stakeholders.

The results

The programme was extremely successful, and every manager was able to articulate how they had applied at least two or three aspects of the learning, and demonstrate the difference that had made to them and the business.

Key Successes

  • One person felt that they had narrowly avoided a nervous breakdown by learning how to manage their very difficult customer and ask for support from their own line managers.
  • As a result of one delegate applying the coaching skills, they felt that their direct report had significantly improved their performance to the point where they also felt much better about their role. The direct report stated that they had been considering leaving the business but now felt much happier about staying.
  • The pass rate for internal quality assessment increased from 66% which was always considered quite good to 75%. This was as direct result of the manager changing their approach to the team, and moving from ‘tell’ to ‘ask’.
  • Artwork output increased from 1.7 per day to 4 per day, which resulted from the manager holding more team meetings and concentrating on getting the team involved in the continuous improvement process.
  • 24 pieces of work were now completed earlier than the deadline, as opposed to 22 being overdue.  This was due to the manager getting the team to slow down and coaching them where necessary in order to get them to speed up overall.
  • Each of the four cohorts made significant financial savings, but cohort two saved over £161k of costs.

What was particularly pleasing was how many people said that, whilst they were a bit anxious about doing their ROI presentation, they found the process of reviewing and identifying their ROI really useful. Some said they couldn’t believe how much they had applied or the value that those changes had brought them.

Top tips for success

  1. Clearly establish what the programme needs to achieve. Do this through a targeted focus group including delegates and stakeholders.
  2. Establish the best delivery method and cohort based on these objectives – use peer-to-peer networking to create a lasting impact.
  3. Get delegates to take ownership of the ROI. This assists with the application of learning, and challenges them to consider the ways they work and their potential.
  4. Always remain human! These results show the true impact of the challenges on the individuals. Remember to remain sensitive to these issues within the larger organisation, and approach them with care.

About Bray Leino Learning

Bray Leino is an Ambassador of Towards Maturity. Working in collaboration with clients Bray Leino deliver blended solutions. Their next generation virtual learning platform delivers just-in- time learning to thousands of individuals, providing long-term development every time.

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