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Coaching US Change agents

The American subsidiary of a major UK high street bank had just transitioned its Lean programme coaching resource away from a Big 4 consulting firm, unfortunately one of the change teams on deployment were struggling without this level of support. The subsidiary required 4 months of technical skills and leadership coaching to build capability in the team

The assignment began with two weeks of observation of the team in action, a Skill Matrix assessment, and where appropriate a review of their individual evidence folders (documenting competency in the tools and techniques). This was followed quite quickly by targeted interventions with team members or in scenarios where the whole team could participate in reflective learning.
Examples of this included:

  • Gemba walks with the change team member in their area of responsibility, being curious about their findings to date, and testing their ability to discover opportunities through “Go and See”
  • Approaching change team members prior to workshops or clients meetings to discuss their POD (Purpose, Objective and Desired Outcome) of the session, this would be followed up with an After Action Review (AAR) to assess the effectiveness of the approach
  • Challenging the team at daily huddles to spend increasing amounts of time with the front-line staff in the process

This produced valuable anecdotal data and specific scenarios for providing feedback to the change team, and exposing the gap between current performance and the best practice expected of them.

In consultation with the Senior Leader, those individuals in most need to support and coaching were grouped together an assigned a new workstream, which would be closely supervised. The team were assisted with defining the problem, undertaking effective “Go and See” activity and provided coaching on how to best engage the local stakeholder grouping.

Through daily huddles, weekly performance discussions and bi-weekly personal development sessions the team grew in confidence, which were demonstrated in their results. On completion of the 14 week engagement the team had delivered $1m worth of benefits to the company wide budget gap closure target of $3m.

The main challenge was application of regular feedback loops and conversations in the North American business culture. Often negative or developmental feedback without the positives being emphasized is not well received. One or two individuals really struggled with accepting feedback even when more it was consistent across sources. Teaching a model for giving and receiving feedback (OEPS- Observation, Explanation, Pause, Suggest solutions) and practicing it relentlessly increased the acceptance rate with individuals.

Secondly it was revealed during the deployment that to deliver on the agreed cost savings, 5 members of the change team would be released. This presented a challenge with motivation and also the personal uncertainty that such a change presents. This was mitigated through working closely with the affected change agents to improve CVs, provide exposure to the tools and experience that would improve their job market potential, as well as running interview skills sessions.

  • The team had delivered $1m worth of benefits to the company wide budget gap closure target of $3m.
  • 3 change agents were accredited to Senior change agent standard
  • All 5 of those colleagues released from the company found roles, including two that joined mid-tier consulting firms in Washington D.C.