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Leadership for high performance - Case study

This UK-based organisation of 2000 employees is responsible for delivering a 24/7/365 operational service. Despite traditional development programmes, a leadership vacuum had grown between the 300 supervisors and their 40 managers and the number of discipline and grievance cases across all levels was steadily rising as a result. Over time, this began to paralyse the management team and they soon realised the strategic consequence of the situation – the organisation had lost its capacity to respond positively and proactively to business challenges and no longer had the collective mindset and desire for change. OB Consulting worked alongside senior managers to co-design and co-deliver an action research Organisation Development (OD) programme over a 12 month period which brought together the management and supervisor groups, dramatically reduced discipline and grievance cases and built a collective leadership capacity across the organisation to respond to future complex business challenges. The programme was externally recognised by the British Psychological Society and UK Skills National Training Awards for its academic underpinning, innovative design and impact on organisational effectiveness. The programme included:

  • Coaching for senior managers on their role during the programme including being personally effective during large group events
  • A workshop for Operational Managers to equip them with the tools and skills in change management and to help them get psychologically closer to and support their supervisors during the programme.
  • Data from a series of questionnaires, interviews and observations triangulated to form a 360-degree view of the management-supervisor vacuum; from this analysis a series of specific leadership issues emerged which formed the content/agenda for the OD programme.
  • A series of large group events brought managers and supervisors together to work on these leadership issues. Over the course of these events, the content/agenda was shared and confirmed and responsibility for each issue was given to a local group of managers and supervisors. Each group subsequently undertook further analysis and then identified a best/good practice model from a combination of academic reading and benchmarking. Once their model had been presented to and validated by their peers, each group were empowered to pilot their solution in their region and findings from the pilot resulted in refinements to the model. Each group then presented their final model to their peers along with suggestions for wider roll out across the organisation.
  • A programme and project approach was established to realise the benefits from the outputs of the OD programme. Confirming each local group as the ‘centre of excellence’ for their model encouraged an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.

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