When Meredith’s team recognised the need to reduce recruitment overheads by developing key account members, giving them the capabilities to take on more senior roles, they called on Spring Leadership to help them. Following a bespoke leadership development and coaching programme and despite a difficult merger, the account has gone from strength to strength with many key staff retained – the majority of which have been promoted into critical positions.
Please note, this project was carried out under my previous business name, Spring Leadership. However, I want to share it with you as an insight into the work I do, and the results I enable my clients to achieve.
Meredith works for a global IT company that provides outsourced IT solutions and digital transformations for businesses across all sectors and sizes. She sits on the board of a large, complex account and is responsible for account strategy and direction as well as recruitment and development of staff within her area of the organisation.
Shortly after the work with Spring Leadership, the company Meredith worked for, CSC, merged with HP to form DXC Technology.
The Problem – How to develop key staff for critical and leadership positions
Several mandatory but lengthy processes associated with onboarding account staff onto the client site and its IT systems mean that it is almost impossible to bring new employees onto the account quickly. Even when expedited, the onboarding process can take several months, making resource planning very difficult. Recruiting people directly into leadership roles is especially challenging.
The team recognised that it made more sense, both in terms of cost and consistent customer service, to invest in developing the staff that were already on the account. This would increase the pool of good quality candidates for critical and leadership positions. It was hoped that a further benefit of this investment would be a reduction in attrition among these employees.
Due to the size of the account and the necessity to keep day to day operations running it was felt that outside expertise was required. Steve came highly recommended through a contact, and with his experience in large corporations was an obvious choice.
What did we do?
Following a thorough analysis and an employee survey, Spring Leadership helped the account board to devise a strategy to develop those members of the account who showed the greatest potential for a leadership position in the future.
We created a bespoke Spring programme that aimed to develop the leadership skills as well as the relationship and communication skills of a cohort of 20 people, selected by board members. The course ran for six months, covering one module per month and requiring a commitment of one day per month from each attendee.
We also asked for a commitment from members of the board in mentoring these participants. And in doing so, we expected these senior managers to also attend as many of the sessions as possible. This would help them gain a deeper understanding of the programme and ensure it could be implemented and supported account-wide. Meaning better outcomes and a greater and lasting impact across the organisation.
The success of the first programme meant that we ran two further programmes, learning from the first and improving the content and techniques used to make them even more relevant to the operations of CSC. We chose to invite applications for rounds two and three meaning participants were even more engaged and enthusiastic about their learnings.
We also included the requirement to undertake a real-world project – taking it from inception to completion while putting into practice the lessons learned from the programme. This benefited the participants and the account greatly, giving them immediate practise and feedback in terms of the techniques and skills they were developing.
Alongside the course, candidates and board members were given the opportunity to take part in one-to-one mentoring sessions with both Steve and Corine.
And the results?
Meredith reported that everyone was extremely positive about the programmes that ran, with several participants seeing “remarkable transformations” in terms of their relationship skills and their ability to communicate more effectively with people throughout the organisation.
She felt that even though the candidates chosen were already high performers the programme was influential in maximising their benefit to the account. And the number of promotions achieved by course participants speaks for itself:
As of December 2018:
- Spring I (2015)
Of 20 participants, 12 remain with the account today of whom 7-8 are in significant and/or leadership roles, including one who subsequently became a member of the board.
- Spring II (early 2016)
Of 10 participants, 6 remain on the account today. 5 of these are in significant and/or leadership roles, including one who subsequently became a member of the board.
- Spring III (late 2016)
Of 10 participants, 6 remain on the account today. 5 of these are in significant and/or leadership roles.
Meredith reported that the one-to-one sessions with both Steve and Corine were “consistently cited as one of the most valuable aspects of the course.” She says that she herself is still implementing the things that Steve got her thinking about in the sessions. Many others she spoke to, while not willing to divulge the nature of these private discussions, felt that the main benefit came from breaking habits and learning to think about things in a different way and find strategies to help them react differently in a given situation, particularly an emotive one.
What benefits did the organisation see?
By reducing the need for external recruitment into leadership roles, cost savings will have been made. But in the industry in which CSC (DXC) operates, it’s the retention of key people that has been so important. The account’s client’s value long term relationships; they want the continuity of working with the same people – people who know and understand their systems. Retaining good candidates gives an added credibility that can’t be bought.
And the addition of ‘real life’ projects into the mix had surprising benefits too. They elevated the programme, helping participants to retain far more of the knowledge they gained as they were able to put it into practise immediately. And while a number of the projects were not finished thanks to over-ambition or a lack of available resources, the ones that did complete left their mark on the organisation.
Finally, Meredith feels that the course was instrumental in giving people the right degree of resilience and creativity to meet the inevitable challenges and changes imposed on the account by the merger, including a sustained period of significant cost constraint.
What the client said
“The biggest legacy of the programme is that we’ve retained so many of the good people and managed to keep them in those positions where they’re really effective and that are critical to the account.
I would recommend Spring Leadership. Strategic planning (they ran a couple of separate sessions with the board), individual coaching and group facilitation were the stand out aspects for me. There is a high level of integrity in terms of their approach to what they do. They’re not just in it to take the business, they really want to deliver a result.”