Client Profile And Challenge
Organization: A global, non-profit, non-governmental organization that supports children in more than 190 countries and territories. Headquartered in New York City with over 300 employees across the United States.
TLS Leaders has partnered with this client for several years. We built its organization-wide leadership development strategy, led numerous executive coaching engagements and leadership development programs. Given the relationship and success of our work together, we were the natural choice to help their largest team achieve its new fundraising goals.
This team was responsible for cultivating some of the world’s largest partnerships around the globe to support the health and education of children. The Chief Philanthropy Officer decided to increase the team’s fundraising goals for the upcoming year based on their previous, high performance.
They had just gone through a reorganization. So, they had some work to do around role clarity and communication. We were tapped to assess their strengths, opportunities and design a custom team development program to enable its success.
We conducted an in-depth interview with the team’s Vice President and small group interviews with all team members. Team members were strategically placed in focus groups where they were psychologically safe and comfortable candidly sharing the team’s strengths and opportunities.
Three Growth Opportunities Emerged.
More Clearly Defined Roles
Three managers were recently promoted to Managing Directors (MDs). Reporting to the Vice President, they were now in charge of heading up three smaller teams within the department. Prior to their promotions, the entire team all reported into the Vice President.
Now, there were three separate sub-teams and work streams. While the MDs’ roles were well defined on paper, they lacked clear definitions in the day-to-day management of their teams.
Refining Processes And Decision Making
In its previous, flatter configuration, decisions were made by consensus. But as the team grew, decisions needed to be made more quickly. Energy and time were being wasted in back-channel communication and repeated need for clarification between the three MDs, the MDs and their teams. The three new MDs needed to develop clearer role boundaries and better assert their authority.
The entire team needed to deepen its communication by communicating more often and listening to each other better, especially when they disagreed. Additionally, the Managing Directors needed to sharpen their abilities to communicate a clear vision and bring their sub-teams along, especially to achieve the new fundraising goals. They needed to rally the team behind the reorganization and stretch goals.
A Four-Part Team Development Program Was Designed
The program spanned four group sessions over the course of six months.
Part One: Flexing Your Communication Muscles To Enhance Understanding & Collaboration
TLS Leaders believes that self-awareness and effective communication are the foundation of all high performing teams. So, the first session gathered the entire team together for a session on communication preferences.
Each team member completed a DiSC assessment and received their individual communication preferences profile. Four composites were also created, which gave the team a snapshot of everyone’s communication preferences in one place, so they could see strengths, opportunities and trends. A composite was built for each of the three work streams, and one for the whole team.
Team members learned their own communication preferences and the impact that their preferences have on how they like to lead, be led, give and receive feedback and what is motivational to them. Then, through group discussions, partner activities and real-life case scenarios, they discovered each other’s preferences and learned to better communicate and collaborate to get work done.
Part Two: Build Communication Norms For Better, Everyday Conversations & Performance
In this eye-opening full team session, they learned key conversational skills to deepen trust and relationships. Using the key discoveries they made in the first session, they learned how to deepen their active and reflective listening with each other. They discovered and practiced ways to better communicate during conflict, and how to give and receive ongoing feedback.
The team also created communication norms, which strengthened their internal and external interactions and fine-tuned how they were going to collaborate to reach their fundraising goals. They posted their communication norms in their physical and virtual office spaces.
Part Three: Deepen Role Clarity & Decision-Making
This session included only the Vice President and three MDs. Under the guidance of the TLS facilitators, they decided on each leader’s roles and responsibilities. They created clear project boundaries, eliminating overlap and confusion. The leadership team also developed more stream-lined decision-making processes around key revenue producing initiatives. They also decided how they were going to achieve buy-from their sub-teams on these important growth strategies.
Part Four: Project Management Clarity Deepens Ownership And Collaboration
During the fourth session, the three new Managing Directors shared their newly defined roles and introduced more clearly defined roles and responsibilities of their sub-team members, vis-a-vis three new, major projects that were going to help them to achieve their new fundraising goals. The MDs actively engaged their teams with open-ended questions, asking for their feedback and input on how they wanted to achieve their goals.
Then, we divided everyone into their sub-team, and they worked together to create RACI charts which ensured clear communication and smooth workflows on their new, revenue-producing projects. Each team came up with two RACI charts.
RACI Ensures Clear Team Communication And Smooth Workflows
Responsible for: which people are responsible for carrying out the task.
Accountable for: the person accountable for the completion of the task. They can delegate responsibilities but are ultimately accountable.
Consulted on: the people that are consulted before and during the task – offering advice but not directly involved.
Informed about: those that are reported to about the progress of the project/task.
To close out the program, each sub-team presented their RACI charts to the entire team. They explained how their projects, clear role definitions and shared ownership were going to contribute to the team’s success in reaching their new interpersonal and business objectives.
Role & Goal Clarity
Role and goal clarity are essential precursors to productivity. A lack of both can cause stress and confusion. By defining their own new leadership roles more clearly, the MDs were able to work together more effectively – and the rest of the team followed suit.
Through their work with TLS Leaders, the team was able to better communicate and align themselves to a new direction. Discovering each other’s work and communication preferences created trust and understanding, which was key to launching three revenue-producing initiatives that helped the team meet their stretch goals.
Creating communication ground rules decreased back-channel communication. More streamlined decision-making and role clarity vastly improved the team’s efficiencies. Implementing the RACI model significantly helped communication which has a major role in the reduction of workplace conflict and established clear lines of reporting and accountability.
High Client Satisfaction Through Participant Ratings (based on a 5-point scale)
4.8 Overall satisfaction with the program.
4.8 The program was a worthwhile investment of time and effort.
4.9 I learned new, effective ways of communicating with my team as a result of the program.
4.7 My team members and I have new ways to navigate and reduce conflict as a result of the program.
4.7 I am confident in my ability to apply what I learned to my role on the team and the projects on which I work.
4.8 I have a greater sense of clarity of my role and responsibilities on the team.
4.9 The facilitators greatly supported the team’s growth and challenged us to grow.
4.8 The facilitators demonstrated team and culture expertise and engaged me in the learning.