Going Global Case Study: “Global Leaders Meeting”
Challenge: An international NGO brings 100 organization leaders and Country Directors from around the world together every two years for a week-long summit. They needed high levels of engagement, dialogue and action focused around clear outcomes. NGO executives asked Continuum to work with an internal team to maximize results through design and facilitation of the event.
Continuum Solution: To ensure maximum engagement and heighten awareness on both the executive and attendee sides, Continuum led a series of global focus groups with meeting participants to define critical outcomes. Partnering with the NGO’s internal planning team, we crafted the summit framework, then selected organization leaders to design and facilitate the different segments. Continuum coached and guided the individual presenters to develop their content and identify ways to enhance attendee interaction. During the summit, Continuum orchestrated all aspects of the event to ensure seamless movement and maximum engagement, to capture key learning points and to stay on track to meet summit objectives.
Outcome: The NGO executive team noted a significant rise in onsite engagement and discovery of key learning points. Feedback from attendees and later from affected department heads led the NGO to call upon Continuum to provide further customized services to assist the C-suite. Additionally, Continuum has now designed and facilitated three of their global meetings to date.
Going Global Case Study: “Hi-Po Coaching”
Challenge: A global pharmaceutical company client had identified a high potential employee as part of their program to develop top talent. The woman came from Italy to work at a U.S.-based site and was having difficulty understanding and navigating the local culture. She was unhappy, her former stellar performance was dropping, and the company feared they would lose this valuable employee.
Continuum Solution: A Continuum Coach developed a six-month coaching program focused on cultural assimilation, to help the leader gain greater understanding of both U.S. and site culture, learn how to navigate team politics, rebuild confidence and re-engage with team members up, down and cross the chain. The customized program included input from the leader herself as well as key members of every team or audience the leader touched.
Outcome: Peers and management marked a great improvement in her interactions and her goal attainment swiftly returned to high levels as the leader’s new understanding of her environment increased her confidence and positively affected her ability to navigate the culture and politics of the local site. She has since progressed into a leadership role at one of the company’s new U.S. sites.
Going Global Case Study: “Global Team Dysfunction”
Situation: A large pharmaceutical company had multiple Manufacturing Science and Technology department teams located in various countries around the world. Common goals of the global teams required collaboration and sharing of information to achieve results, but the groups were experiencing conflict, competition, lack of trust and breakdown in communication. Results were sub par.
Continuum Solution: Continuum worked with an internal team to survey key members and gain a better understanding of situation dynamics. The first priority was to improve work relationships between a specific U.S. team and one in Ireland. The Continuum Consultant designed a nine-month intervention that included multiple components:
- Feedback surveys –each team provided confidential feedback and expressed what they needed from the other team to be more successful
- Virtual meetings – used to facilitate discussion and increase understanding of core issues (both common and site-specific) and to allow shared responsibility for solutions
- Cross cultural training program – including personality and conflict profiles for the groups and its individual members
- Individual team retreat – one each for the U.S. and Ireland sites, to confidentially surface issues and educate each about common cultural differences and working styles for the other site
- Combined U.S./Ireland team-building retreat – pulling together all components, the retreat focused on building trust, communication, collaboration and cultural understanding. Specific problem areas were identified for the group to discuss and create strategies for improvement.
Outcome: At the end of the initiative, the groups crafted an “Ongoing Engagement Plan,” a list of shared agreements for working together, a process of accountability, and agreed methods for addressing potential conflict or lack of understanding before negative effects are manifested. In addition, the groups designed Action Plans, including timelines, laying out the groups’ recommendations for improvements to present to management.
Upon reviewing program outcomes and the teams’ new working processes, their MS&T leader stated that the increase in communication and trust were already evident. At this time, informal reviews show positive results have been maintained.
Culture Change/Engagement Case Study: “Solution Attempts with No Results”
Challenge: Every year the leadership team of a major pharmaceutical company received feedback from an annual organization employee engagement survey. They immediately put into place solutions and initiatives they thought would address issues surfaced by employee feedback. When the people were surveyed again, there was no improvement in the scores, even after a tremendous amount of time, effort and resources were expended. They called on Continuum to analyze the situation and explore strategies for improvement.
Continuum Solution: Continuum partnered with a cross-functional internal leadership team to explore the dynamics and options for change. We discovered that when prior survey results were delivered, the leadership team themselves interpreted the data and designed and implemented their own solutions. Frontline staff were never asked to help clarify feedback, to offer solution options, or engage in change efforts directly. In other words, the “employee engagement fix” never engaged the employees themselves. Also, there were no processes created to assess whether the efforts were actually addressing needs or making a difference in real time.
Continuum consultants designed an engagement campaign kicked off by a series of focus groups to engage people three to four levels down in the organization. In order to gain understanding and solicit direct staff recommendations, we facilitated 10 feedback groups, each of which included a welcome from the site head, education about current initiatives, request for feedback, and specific questions or issues where leaders especially requested feedback.
The groups then collaborated, working to assimilate all feedback from the individual sessions and crafting a series of recommendations for the senior leadership team. Continuum coached focus group members in design and presentation of the material to be of maximum benefit for the SLT, who met directly with the group representatives to receive feedback during a facilitated retreat. The strategic retreat included small group discussions where leaders and frontline staff were able to openly discuss challenges and options.
Outcome: The discussions were so successful that focus group representatives were asked to form a leadership advisory group, tasked with meeting monthly with a representative from leadership to ensure that recommendations were acted upon, and to craft an ongoing assessment and feedback process. We turned the focus group process into a leadership development program.
Results from the next Pulse Survey indicated an increase in all key indicators. The company decided to institute the process into a yearly program with a focus on employee input and recommendations to drive the annual goals process.
Culture Change/Engagement Case Study: “Multi-cultural, Multi-lingual Mix”
Challenge: Continuum was asked to redesign a global employee engagement survey and action planning process for an international NGO which was experiencing highly varied levels of engagement and feedback participation using old methods. Goals of the initiative included:
- Improving employee engagement and accountability
- Soliciting feedback over 4000 employees in 59 countries covering 4 languages
Continuum Solution: As usual, we began with the end in mind. If we wanted managers to use the feedback (unlike the former shelf-sitting manuals), and for people to show accountability to understand the data and engage in active improvements, we needed to discover what managers really needed. What information would be important to them?
We conducted a series of meetings with the organization’s global leaders to elicit feedback on key issues, areas of specific need, gaps in information for which they needed greater employee feedback and engagement. From this level of feedback, Continuum consultants created an Employee Engagement Model highlighting targeted aspects of inquiry. The model became the foundation for organizing the survey and designing the communication campaign.
The initiative continued with Continuum taking point or assisting engagement teams in:
- Designing and conducting the multi-lingual surveys
- Aggregating and analyzing confidential data
- Delivering feedback reports and facilitating data review
- Creating tools to help managers share feedback, and lead discussions, with their respective teams.
- Creating action plans to address the identified needs, including accountability decisions and timelines
- Facilitated a series of manager training programs globally, to help them maximize the tools and facilitate ongoing engagement within their teams
- Provided additional support, team meeting facilitation, coaching and consulting services for targeted groups or individuals within the organization who had particularly low scores
- Collected and monitored Action Plans and accountability reports
Outcome: Six months after the Action Plans were submitted to the Senior Leadership Team, we gathered stories about the changes and improvements from teams around the world. These stories were shared across the organization as part of the lead up to the upcoming Pulse Survey which was planned to assess impact.
Pulse Survey results showed the following on every key indicator studied:
- Improved results in engagement and accountability for areas with formerly low scores
- Equal or slightly raised scores for areas of former medium to high scores.
Word On The Street
I have personally worked with Wendy for the last 4 years at the Holly Springs site. Wendy has provided valued and trusted guidance to our Site Leadership Team to enable both our team and the site to perform at the high levels in which we are performing today. She has been with us – side by side – throughout our journey and for that we are grateful. One area in particular that Wendy has really helped us with has been Employee Engagement. About 3 years ago we really struggled to understand employee feedback that we received through the various online surveys that we would send to staff. The surveys would tell us one thing, we would respond with actions to address employee feedback, we would send another survey again, and still get the same feedback. The nasty cycle continued and we struggled to truly understand the true issues and concerns of our staff. We were not as engaged with our staff as we had believed. We were missing something.
In discussions with Wendy, the EEF was born! The Employee Engagement Forum was created to reach out to the shop floor / supervisory level staff that make up the majority of our population. While this group makes up the majority of the site it did not have the ‘voice’ that others in higher levels of the organization has. Over the last 2 years, about 20% of our staff has spent a half day in Jan / Feb with Wendy in an EEF. In these forums, Wendy is able to use her talents to truly engage staff and to get them to fully open up to provide value-added feedback on the key focus areas of our business. It’s amazing how Wendy can create such a comfortable environment for staff and how willing staff is to share with Wendy. Wendy would then take the combined feedback and along with staff volunteers from the forum, present their findings to our site leadership. Actions to address the feedback would then go directly into Site Objectives. The employees voices are now really being heard. We have seen our level of engagement grow significantly as staff has seen their feedback result in true actions by leadership. We maintain that high level of engagement throughout the year with monthly luncheons with the EEF staff volunteers. It is through those luncheons that we report back to staff on how we are progressing in the areas that were highlighted by them at the EEF.
I cannot say enough about the value of Wendy’s efforts to our organization and the success of the EEF Program that Wendy built and facilitates.
Director, Project Management
Novartis – Holly Springs
- American Association of Endodontists
- Biogen Idec
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
- Campbell Soup
- Center For Responsible Lending
- Copernicus Group IRB
- Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics
- PACE Sylvan Learning
- Regency Housing
- Republic Mortgage Insurance Company
- Research Triangle Institute
- TrueBridge Capital
- Verus Global
- York Properties
- Whole Foods Markets
- Larry’s Beans
- Self-Help Credit Union
- Sustainable North Carolina Business Council
- The People’s Channel
- Whole Foods Markets
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
- American Social Health Association
- Christian Children’s Fund
- FHI 360
- IntraHealth International
- Sister Cities International
- City of Raleigh, NC
- City of Shelby, NC
- Environmental Protection Agency
- North Carolina League of Municipalities
Community and Human Services
- Allied Churches of Alamance County
- Leadership Raleigh
- NC Department of Public Health
- Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
- United Way of the Greater Triangle
- Women’s Business Owners Network of Cary
- YWCA – National Office
- Colorado Department of Education
- Duke University
- University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, Charlotte)
- UNC Department of Social Medicine
- Center for Creative Leadership
- DRAKE & Associates Ltd.
- J.O Rodgers and Associates – Southern Company Services Project
- Triangle Training Center