The following story was described by Jamie MacPherson, head of learning in the United States at Lane4 Management Group.
Client: An international utility company based in the United Kingdom and United States.
Problem: Over the years, the organization had grown in size through acquisitions, the last of which had led to substantial growth. The leadership team struggled to create a vision and high-performance environment for the new company.
Diagnosis: Through employee surveys, leaders discovered that because of their inability to provide effective performance feedback, as well as a lack of performance management process consistency and employee fatigue from ongoing organizational changes, they were inhibiting buy-in to the new organization's vision and direction.
Method/Tools: Lane4 designed a series of workshops to focus on three aspects: make sense of the company's new vision and what it meant for individuals' performance; create performance management skills around a comprehensive performance management tool; and explore which leadership qualities were important to drive performance management. Historically, leadership performance was evaluated based only on end results, but the process by which they achieved those results often left unmotivated employees in their wake.
Lane4 rolled out the workshop training through a top-down, tiered process, starting with the organization's board of directors. The two-day workshop, called "Performance for Growth," developed leaders' skills in articulating a vision and demonstrating the leadership qualities for a high-performance environment. After the board completed the first round of training, the workshop was rolled out to the company's top 200 leaders, then to the next 1,000 leaders, and so on. Leaders who completed the training attended a workshop with the next tier of participants. The senior leaders shared personal stories with their direct reports about how they were demonstrating learned leadership qualities and making changes to embrace the new vision.
Solution: Throughout the course of 18 months, the organization's 2,700 leaders felt motivated by the new vision and performance management system. The training program emphasized why the vision and leadership skills were relevant to each leader, as well as how they stimulate performance. The workshops gave participants an opportunity to critique, ask questions, and use their senior leaders as sounding boards.
End Result: Employees gained a sense of security under the new vision and a common language around the new performance management tool. The true success of the program was apparent when employees recognized that leaders were "walking their talk."