From Assessment to Application: Leading Through Change

December 10, 2018
Author: Eric Bean and Nic Bencaz

Case Study: Part 2 of 2

This blog post is part 2 of 2 detailing our work over the past year with a growing diagnostic company. The company wanted to improve adaptability to an ever-changing external environment, increase motivation and engagement of employees, and strengthen the organizational culture and leadership. To help the leadership achieve their primary objectives based on the results of our needs assessment (highlighted in part 1), we offered a multi-faceted approach to help lead them through these changes. 

Changes that Stick: Employing Sustainable Solutions

The goal of any change effort is to create buy-in and lay the ground work for sustainability. Many training organizations do a phenomenal job when they are with their clients in person. The program participants provide glowing feedback of the training and a few days later (sometimes a few hours later!) they return to business as normal. Their minds may intermittently reflect on the training (what was that one tool she suggested for conflict resolution?), but, eventually, the training becomes a distant memory.

At HigherEchelon, we understand the inherent challenges organizations face when working to apply the content from our workshops, so we take great care to ensure our solutions have key leadership support, there is clarity on what behaviors will lead to positive impacts, and how to embed those new behaviors in a culture that aligns with key organizational objectives. To bring about the required changes necessary for success at the diagnostic company, we utilized a three-phased approach:

  1. We identified and leveraged change agents in the company,
  2. We delivered a leadership development workshop,
  3. We coached individuals and small groups

During all of the above, we regularly communicated with the COO to discuss progress and strategies for implementing our recommendations to achieve the desired changes.

Phase 1: Identifying and Leveraging Change Agents

We worked with the executive team to identify leaders who are highly motivated to help the organization evolve, could clearly communicate the reasons for change, and would model those changes and hold others accountable throughout the process. We then examined the results of our needs analysis and identified several small-scale departmental success stories that were not being communicated or properly applied across the company. One example involves identifying the Chief Information Officer (CIO) who was applying a well-received performance recognition system within his department that could be scaled-up to increase motivation and engagement of employees across the organization. The CIO then served as a change agent for the rest of the organization by sharing his approach and helping other leaders recognize and reward employees in their own departments.

Including the CIO, we selected 35 change agent leaders across the organization including members of the executive team,billing personnel, the national sales director, regional sales managers, lab directors, and operational leadership. These individuals would be directly involved in our leadership workshop to learn, practice, and promote an adaptive mindset to strengthen the core company leadership and organizational culture.

Phase 2: Leadership Foundations Workshop

Our philosophy on leadership is that technical skills alone are not enough.  We believe a resilient and adaptable mindset is the foundation for high performance, and that high performing leaders drive organizational excellence. Over the course of 2-days, with 3 months in between each day, we engaged the 35 key leaders to build their leadership presence through self-awareness, self-regulation, and enhance their ability to lead through change. Based on the results of our needs analysis, the goals of the executive team, and trends across the 360-assessment results, we designed a two-day workshop with day 1 focused on Leading Self and day 2 focused on Leading others.

Day 1: Leading Self

In Leading Self, we focused on self-awareness by helping leaders identify their core values, strengths, and weaknesses. For this diagnostic company we taught the following modules:

  • Introduction to Leadership– Why leadership is a performance and the role of today’s leader
  • Purpose Driven Performance– Identify and leverage core values to drive effective leadership
  • Science of High Performance– Examine the research on high performance across domains
  • Performance Management and Appraisal – Discuss techniques for suspending bias and accurately assessing and managing performance
  • Leadership Styles – Understand the most common styles of leadership and build self-awareness of preferred style

Throughout the day we engaged the leaders in discussions and exercises to demonstrate that there is more than one way to be a leader. We offered examples and resources for leaders to discover their core values, their personal leadership philosophy and leadership style. We discussed overlap in personal and organizational values to help create a unified culture. In day 1 with this diagnostic organization, issues about uncommunicated differences among leaders came to light, and discussion focused on how these lead to stress and lost business.

Day 2: Leading Others

In Leading Others, we focused on leveraging the foundational skills from Leading Self to complement traditional leadership competencies and covered the following modules:

  • High Performing Teams and Group Dynamics – Discuss the underpinnings of highly cohesive and effective teams
  • Leading Through Change– Examine how individuals and companies process and progress through change
  • Emotional Intelligence– Implement strategies to enhance intra personal and interpersonal emotional intelligence
  • Effective Feedback and Crucial Conversations – Explored strategies to overcome distrust and learn how to deliver difficult feedback
  • Applying the Content– Identify a clear and detailed action plan to implement the lessons and habits covered over the 2-day workshop

At the conclusion of each day, leaders engaged in a commitment exercise to identify the most critical behavior or exercise they will engage in over the coming week. This exercise, along with coaching for select leaders, ensured that participants will act on the workshop material and gain some momentum in carrying the lessons forward.

Phase 3: Coaching and Reinforcement

Following the workshops, we embarked on individual and group coaching in order to reinforce the lessons and help create a culture of engaged and motivated team members who adapt fluidly in a constantly changing environment. The group coaching provided a space for the leadership team to openly discuss specific successes and challenges when applying the new skills learned from the training. Coaching(individual and small group) helped the leaders personalize the material and get experience implementing and evaluating strategies to communicate, lead, and engage their team members. Our consistent application with the diagnostic company produced behaviors and habits that resulted in a high performing culture and a more cohesive team.

Tying It All Together

Organizational change is important for company development, but it comes with leadership challenges at all levels. The highest performing organizations, whether it be in sports, healthcare, business, or government, treat performance enhancement as a science, and they seek ways to deliberately train it. Our success with this company resulted from a thorough needs assessment, committed change agents at all levels of the organization, consistent reinforcement to drive results,and customized solutions to meet their unique needs as a growing diagnostic company.

If you would like to learn more about our Resilient and Adaptable Leader program, reach out to us at HCS@HigherEchelon.comor through our website for more information.