SituationWhen a client of ours in the non-profit sector was preparing to make a significant strategic shift, they sought our help to align the senior team and rest of the organization with the new direction. Resistance to the changes at high levels in the organization meant that individual departments were operating in opposition to one another. At a time when unified action was needed, the organization was embroiled in internal controversy.
We were tapped to assess the situation, provide one-on-one coaching to the top executives and launch a Team Development program to unite the senior directors under a common mission.
Strategy + SolutionThe Assessment phase included in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and uncovered four key areas of focus:
- Unclear role definition | The organization's top leaders lacked clearly defined roles and authority. As a result, inordinate amounts of energy were wasted in turf wars and behind the scenes maneuvering.
- Communication and influence | The organization's top leaders needed to sharpen their ability to communicate a clear vision and bring people along.
- Collaboration | The group of senior directors who were responsible for managing the organization's $100+ million budget and 400 employees did not work together as a team.
- Decision-making process | The organization had a long-standing practice of making decisions by consensus. When the organization was smaller, this worked fine. But as the leadership team grew, decision-making had become slow, frustrating and ineffective.
Executive Coaching for Top LeadersOver a period of nine months, Next Step Partners coaches worked one-on-one with the top executives to help them define their own working relationship and roles. We also worked with them to develop stronger listening and coaching skills. Rather than simply asserting ideas, the leaders learned how to engage others in conversations that lead to better understanding and buy-in.
Team Development Sessions for Senior TeamWe conducted a Team Development program that spanned four group sessions with the senior team over a nine-month period. The first two sessions were focused on defining the commitment and mission of the group and creating a clear structure for the team members. Under the guidance of the Next Step Partners facilitators, they explored what it means to be institutionally minded, came to agreement on priorities, committed to some basic ground rules and developed a more streamlined decision-making process. They also vastly improved the effectiveness of their meetings by setting clear agendas, preparing for meetings and facilitating group discussions that were focused and in which all voices were heard. The senior team experimented with different approaches in their bi-weekly team meetings so that by the third session facilitated by Next Step Partners, they were prepared to collaborate on addressing a difficult issue facing the organization. The fourth session focused on building accountability structures and creating a plan for keeping the organization on track during a period of significant change.
Results DeliveredThrough their work with Next Step Partners, the top leaders were able to better communicate and align the organization behind a new direction. By defining their own roles more clearly, they worked together more effectively and the rest of the organization followed suit. The team development sessions were a linchpin in a significant culture change. They united the senior team so that they could drive the organization in a unified direction to the benefit of the entire institution, not just their own departments. Note: to protect the confidentiality and privacy of our clients, we have altered some identifying details in this case study.
NSP Services Delivered
- Interview-based needs assessments
- Program Design
- Team Workshop Facilitation
- 1-on-1 Executive Coaching
- Individual Development Plans
- Skills Development Sessions + Resources
- Project Sponsor Check-ins
- Greater role clarity
- Reduced confusion + conflict
- Increased team engagement + trust
- Enhanced cross-department collaboration
- Better organizational alignment