Client Profile And Challenge
Our global consumer health client, with 19,000 employees and some of the most iconic brands in its portfolio, had just merged with a competitor. While its merged brand management leadership team continued to lead their categories, they needed a trusted organizational development partner to help them work well together.
They turned to TLS Leaders to facilitate a series of custom strategy and team development sessions to create a successful and collaborative path forward.
What Was At Stake
The consumer health segments of both teams, combined, generated $14.6 billion in revenue the prior year. Despite this great financial potential, the newly merged leadership team was not gelling. There was a continued legacy of competition, morale was low, and it was seeping into the teams below them.
After a targeted needs assessment through one-on-one interviews, we uncovered that the team needed to clear the air due to initial poor behavior and communication with each other. They also needed to create communication norms so they could break down their silos and begin to work as one leadership team rather than two separate “competitors”.
We worked with the Vice President of Brand Development and the team’s Human Resources Business Partner to create a three-part team development program.
PART ONE: EXECUTIVE COACHING
The first phase focused on the ten, individual leaders. They each had four months of one-on-one executive coaching with a Training & Leadership Executive Coach. The focus was on both individual and interpersonal growth.
StrengthsFinder Assessment: Each leader learned their core strengths and what key differentiators they brought to the leadership team. They also discovered their growth opportunities and how to mitigate them.
Individual Development Goals: The leaders built SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timed) growth goals with the objective of building trust, better communication and relationships within the leadership team. Individual goals were aligned with organizational imperatives and grounded in success measures.
Coaching Sessions: Each leader experimented with new behaviors and ways of thinking to deepen self-awareness, trust with each other, understand their newly formed team members better, and use their strengths to build a more collaborative group. With the guidance of their Coach, they achieved their individual and collective coaching goals. A post-coaching action plan was created by each leader to sustain their growth.
PART TWO: BUILDING TEAM COMMUNICATION NORMS
This phase of the program focused on helping the leadership team to collectively build agreements for more productive communication. TLS Leaders facilitated targeted discussions to help them set their “rules of the road”. The outcome were key communication norms that the leadership team decided to follow.
Key Communication Norms
- Give Equal Speaking Time At Meetings: The team set up meeting structures to encourage less outspoken team members to take part, so their ideas were not drowned out by those with more assertive communication styles.
- Use Better Listening: The team agreed to use empathic listening with each other and to use specific actions that encouraged it.
- Ask More Than You Tell: This norm boosted psychological safety by having team members ask for the other person’s input and perspective before sharing their own in every day conversations.
- Have Courageous Conversations: The team decided and learned how to productively address disagreements and miscommunications when they happen.
- Know When To Use Email & When Not To: This norm was a big change for the team as they typically communicated via email or Slack, even about sticky situations that required nuance and relationship. They decided which situations were better addressed over email, when to pick up the phone and when to call a brief meeting to address certain topics.
- Give Empathic Feedback & Receive It Well, Too: As part of the courageous conversations norm, the team decided how to give clear, kind, short feedback and engage the other person in collaborative brainstorming during feedback conversations. It also included ways to effectively receive feedback, minimizing defensiveness.
PART THREE: CREATING A COLLABORATION ROADMAP TO ACHIEVE BUSINESS GOALS
In this phase, the team built a roadmap of how to align their talents and priorities to achieve the company’s goals. TLS facilitators helped them to build accountability structures and create a plan for keeping the team and the branding departments on track during this period of significant change.
They came to agreements on:
How key branding projects were going to be dispersed throughout the team and who below the team was going to lead critical campaigns.
They used the communication norms that they built in the previous session to create even deeper synergy on how branding campaigns and projects were going to be communicated about and led.
They tapped into each other’s strengths to better divvy up decisions and workload.
Through TLS Leaders’ integrated approach, the team built deeper understanding and trust with each other. They showed marked improvement in their communication, and were able to deliver more effectively and efficiently on critical branding and business initiatives.
Vastly improved the effectiveness of their meetings by setting clear agendas, rotating who led them and facilitated group discussions where all voices were heard.
Raised morale and speed to execution because they learned how to iron out misunderstandings through feedback and courageous conversations.
“Gelled” better as a leadership team as a result of using more empathic communication, better listening and taking controversial topics off of email and onto a phone call or meeting.
SUSTAINED TEAMWORK AND PERFORMANCE
The leadership team was surveyed three months after the program ended, and the feedback was excellent. They shared the program’s continued impact on their synergy, teamwork and performance.
We have built a habit of creative cooperation. We used to compete for ideas. Now we brainstorm them together.
Back channel communication has decreased greatly. We now have tools to give and receive feedback and have tough conversations with each other. I feel more trust growing between us.
There is a lot more synergy between us. We’re using our strengths better and know how to work better together.
Merging the team was tough. We had a lot of challenging personalities and needed the right toolbox to deal with this change. The walls have now come down and we have merged our thinking and are leading as one leadership team.
High Client Satisfaction Through Participant Ratings
The program was a worthwhile investment of my time and effort.
I learned new, effective ways of communicating, giving and receiving feedback as a result of the program.
My team members and I have new ways to navigate and reduce conflict as a result of the program.
I am confident in my ability to apply what I learned to my leadership role on the team and the business initiatives on which I work.
The facilitators supported the team’s growth and challenged us to grow.
The facilitators demonstrated team and culture expertise and engaged me in the learning.