Change in action.
1. Re-engaging employees following a stressful merger.
2. Bringing agile transformation to life.
3. Evolving middle managers to transformation leaders.
Re-engaging employees following a merger
A cutting edge biotech company was acquired by an established pharmaceutical company. In the merger, they struggled with engagement and communication:
People were unhappy: Leadership and employee turnover increased significantly, and employee engagement decreased. Company ratings in workplace satisfaction rankings dropped.
The culture became diluted: When teams reshuffled and relocated y, the culture started losing its special sauce. And it was difficult to create a new one.
Tension and confusion flared up between teams and leadership: When the reporting lines were redrawn, many people were now reporting to a HQ they had never met, and collaborating for the first time with colleagues from other cultures.
I came in to help improve cohesiveness, from the executive to the junior level. We offered peer coaching circles on a monthly basis for six months, on topics related to change, professional development, and how to approach real-life challenges at work and home:
The programme was 100% volunteer-run and facilitated, with minimal cost.
We recruited and developed employee-facilitators on leading an authentic group process, deep listening, managing conflict, engaging participants.
I developed a set of core values and “meeting-in-a- box” materials to maximize facilitator autonomy.
Monthly huddles were setup for support and community building among the facilitators.
We worked on mentoring and developing their successors immediately after the pilot to ensure sustainability.
The pilot launch was oversubscribed by 5x. The programme grew from 40 participants to 200+ per year, going on nine years, serving ~1000 employees to date and rotating leadership every two years.
Leadership development and visibility was provided to employee-facilitators who leveraged those skills back in their day-jobs.
The program was recognized with a CEO leadership award. It organically spread to various corporate functions, other regions and outside organizations.
This programme was (and still is) recommended by over 90% of participants to their colleagues for value delivered on:
Improving business savvy about other areas of business.
Seeing their peers as full human beings, and leading more authentic conversations in their work and life.
Adopting new life and work approaches thanks to cross pollination .
Increased breadth of their professional networks.
Bringing agile transformation to life
A transformation team reporting to the c-suite were charged leading agile transformation for a sales and marketing division of a large life sciences company. The goals of the transformation were to put customers and patients at the center, and shift the command-and-control hierarchy to a high-trust network of small autonomous teams. The challenges they were up against included:
Minimal enthusiasm: First attempts at launching new operating model were met with lackluster enthusiasm and significant resistance.
No agile expertise: Agile was an unknown philosophy and methodology in organization and industry up until that point.
Apprehension from leadership due to negative past experiences: Senior leadership was skeptical vis-à-vis agile experts due to past negative experiences with coaching in general.
As a member of the team, I set up agile experiments with a handful of first adopters alongside a professional agile coach. The experiments were successful, and so I was able to secure funding to invest in additional external coaching support. From there, I launched an operating model, and I created a coaching apprenticeship for full time employees to develop internal capability and champions for transformation.
I formed a team of 12 coaches, and launched 80+ small autonomous teams in four months. The teams co-created a customized methodology and delivery model for their teams, leaders, and champions. We grew the team by another 80% and secured organizational support to officially establish a coaching center of excellence.
A strong coaching team culture of courage, compassion and distributed leadership, thanks to modeling of values, learning and development practices, artifacts, stories, and rituals.
Observable shifts in speed, agility, flexibility and leadership effectiveness in the organization.
Consensus in top leadership that the adoption of new ways of working allowed company to successfully respond to pandemic.
Outside experts consistently described coaching team as unique and groundbreaking in industry.
Global parent company leveraged coaching model for transformation in other regions.
Since I’ve left, the coaching team has expanded to rest of the country and folded into Corporate HR to provide services to other functions.
“I can’t believe I’m being paid to do this work!” — A business leader who changed careers to join the coaching team.
“The coaching is working and we need more of you.” — CEO
Evolving middle managers to transformation leaders
Large-scale transformation in a Silicon Valleycompany was losing momentum in part due to:
A lack of middle management engagement: Many reported feeling stressed, and longed to engage but were unsure of how.
Conflicting priorities between having to run the business but also having to disrupt it .
No real personal connection to transformation.
I partnered with experts and senior leaders to create an immersive three-day retreat experience. We also created a monthly group coaching session. Both of these focused on:
Self-awareness: Developing personal and leadership behaviors and narratives - both constructive and “in the way.”
New practices and tools to thrive in changing times.
A community of support to sustain new mindset and behaviors.
I served as a facilitator, coach, and dean of the programme, providing “duty of care” leadership and guidance to the program admin and faculty teams. Through that, I also developed and mentored successors to take on leadership and facilitation roles.
The programme was delivered to 125+ leaders. Word of mouth marketing and alumni experience generated a buzz and even a waitlist.
We successfully pivoted the programme to virtual delivery at the start of the pandemic.
Since stepping down, the programme continues to be delivered (100% online during the pandemic) and - despite budget constraints - has been embedded into regular leadership development curriculum.
Powerful impact - beyond professional life.
For many, it was the “best development experience of their lives”, and helped them with “living my best life despite the challenges.”
Changing careers to better align with their purpose.
Enhanced leadership abilities.
Readiness to embrace the change with new mindsets and actions.
Improved organizational health.
Coaches and followers of these leaders observed the following shifts in participants:
More creative responses to challenges and less reactivity.
Deeper engagement with the transformation and company.
Seeing self as role model (not just senior leaders).
More coaching and inspiring of others