SituationOne of the largest grant making organizations in the US approached us after conducting an employee survey which brought to light a communication gap between management and staff. The overall survey results were quite positive, however, comments pointed to two key areas that staff felt needed attention.
- Feedback | Staff desired more frequent and meaningful performance feedback from their managers.
- Communication | Staff wanted more openness and greater clarity from the leadership team.
At the time of the survey, a few of the organization’s leaders had been working individually with executive coaches to improve their communication and leadership skills. The HR Director noted such positive results from these coaching engagements that she thought that extending coaching to the entire senior team could be an ideal way to close the communication gap and strengthen staff leadership skills. Although she had confidence in coaching, she wasn’t sure how to introduce the idea to the executive team.
Strategy + Solution
Step 1 | 360°Assessment for the HR DirectorAs a first step, the HR Director engaged Next Step Partners to perform a 360-degree feedback process on herself. The Next Step Partners team conducted in-depth interviews with the people who the HR Director interacted most—among them many of the organization's senior leaders—to identify her strengths and areas for development. The Next Step Partners coach guided each interviewee through a process that helped them to articulate clear and specific feedback. The Director of HR received rich, detailed and useful insight on her performance and a personalized development plan; participants learned how to give helpful feedback and saw first-hand the benefits of doing so.
Step 2 | 360°Assessment and Coaching for Senior LeadersThis led the way for the entire leadership team to receive 360-degree feedback assessments and create associated development plans. The senior staff who had provided feedback for the HR Director were eager to go through the assessment process themselves. The leadership team was also offered executive coaching with the common goal of using coaching to help them to act on the insights gained through the feedback process. The 360 degree feedback process gave the staff the experience of providing meaningful feedback to their managers. Seeing positive results helped open the lines of communication and leaders began to have more meaningful conversations with their staff and each other. The process also gave each member of the leadership team a broader perspective. It expanded their focus on their functional domains to highlight their roles as institutional leaders who influence the overall culture. They began to think and talk about their leadership in a different way.
Step 3 | 360°Assessment and Coaching for Mid-level ManagersSeeing that communication was becoming more open and effective among the top leaders, the HR Director asked Next Step Partners to bring the feedback and coaching process to the next level of managers.
Results DeliveredFeedback and coaching helped the leadership team operate with more openness and transparency. By modeling these behaviors, the leaders have been able to instill them in the entire organization. Subsequent surveys of staff perceptions have shown improvements across the board, including significantly higher ratings for cooperation, team orientation, employee commitment, ability of the organization to manage change and its fairness in administering policy. The leadership team is receiving higher marks for developing and mentoring staff as well as functioning as a more cohesive team. While many factors contributed to these improvements, both the President and HR Director credit the work with Next Step Partners as playing a significant role in supporting these changes. Note: to protect the confidentiality and privacy of our clients, we have altered some identifying details in this case study.
NSP Services Delivered
- Team Development
- Individual Coaching
- Leadership Role Definition
- Decision Making Process
- Reporting + Measurement
- Improved employee satisfaction
- More open and clear communication from leaders
- Greater cooperation across the organization