Telecommunications company was facing three main challenges: 1. Differences in leadership styles and skill levels; 2. inefficiency due to limited organizational and interpersonal skills, 3. some degree of disconnect with union workers and union leaders.
Managers were reactive versus responsive. Basic, fundamental communication skills, like active listening, validating and reassuring what is being heard were missing much of the time. The conditioned tendency was to tell others what to do, even if that provoked resistance. Managers had practically no skills to hold other accountable, especially not employees they had no authority over.
Organizational skills and time management
Managers were under much pressure to meet the requirements of the job and were consistently operating beyond capacity. There was a great need for managers to adopt new ways of doing their job, i.e. coach versus push, prioritize more effectively, limit and manage interruptions more effectively, conduct more productive meetings, make requests from upper management, direct reports and peers and work more effectively as a team.
Engaging Union workers
Managers experienced a lack of power around managing union workers. The notion that some union workers can’t be managed still persisted amongst some.
Heads-Up Performance conducted a 14-month coaching program for managers and executives.
The first step consisted of a culture survey, individual assessment tools, 360’s and diagnostic conversations to identify the current situation and assess the gaps. We then outlined our approach and co-created a strategy with senior manager to roll out the program.
The intervention consisted of skill-building workshops delivered twice a month to the entire management team and individual coaching for each manager on a bi-weekly basis.
The workshops and group coaching sessions were designed to:
- Strengthen their leadership and coaching capacities
- Bring them together as a collaborative team
- Rally them around a single strategic focus
- Empower them to become effective coaches who inspire others, including union workers, to get things done
- Conducted strategic meetings with senior leaders on a bi-weekly basis to define and tweak game plan
- Shadowed senior leadership in their staff meetings to assess and enhance conversations for action and level of commitment vs. compliance
- Facilitated conversations to assess capacity realistically
- Interviewed a sample of technicians to assess productivity breakdowns
- Increased best practices through fish bowl interviews with high performers
- Created a rallying cry “Connect and Build Trust” to include union leaders
- Facilitated joint sessions with area and local managers to improve communication between levels and greater understanding of the challenges each group was facing
Remarkable strides were made while working with Heads-Up Performance that resulted in a 5% productivity increase within the first two months of the intervention.
Majority of managers made significant progress in holding themselves and others more accountable by measurably increasing the number (and quality) of coaching conversations and enhancing trust and relationships. Those conversations resulted in more effective work processes and specific performance measures related to compliance and safety as well as sales.
Managers reported that they were able to turn low performing union workers into higher performing ones by shifting their assessments of the union workers, establishing more effective relationships and communicating more frequently.
Improvements in the area of organizational skills and time management contributed to the region meeting its goals for the first time in various areas.