CLIENT: Major Construction Materials Manufacturer
PROJECT: The Effective Leader – Leading through Influence
THEMES: Leadership Development
AUDIENCE: Senior Managers
LOCATION: UK and Northern Europe
A world leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of building and high-performance materials, our client provides solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. In operation for over 350 years, the company is represented in 66 countries, employing 180,000 people worldwide.
For nine years, ASK had been successfully delivering a leadership programme for regional and country managers within either transversal or line management positions across Northern Europe. In 2015, however, we were commissioned by our client to transform the programme, taking a more innovative, dynamic and engaging approach to learning, integrating digital content delivery and online discussion forums, and using a ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ approach.
We were also asked to re-design elements of the programme as the regional HR team recognised a fundamental shift in business leaders’ development needs, reflecting the complexities associated with influencing and collaborating in the context of culturally diverse virtual and remote teams within a matrix organisation.
ASK worked in close partnership with the Northern European Regional HR Team to design and deliver a 16-week blended-learning leadership development journey – Leading through Influence – that addresses how to work across a matrix organization and be influential even when one has no line management power or physical presence. Launched in September 2015, the pilot programme consisted of five phases:
- Line Manager and Learner Engagement
- Weeks 1-7: Online learning and 360 feedback
- Week 8: 3-day face-to-face workshop
- Weeks 9-15: Online collaboration and support
- Week 16: Virtual Action Learning Sets
Line Manager and Learner Engagement
Line Managers attended a 45-minute webinar, which introduced the programme objectives and explained their role in supporting the development of their reports, and provided with support templates to use when agreeing learning objectives with and coaching their learners. Each learner was fully briefed about the programme through an engaging online video session that was designed and delivered by the ASK programme facilitators.
Learners completed seven weeks of online learning using the CrossKnowledge digital learning platform. They spent approximately 90 minutes each week completing activities that would be addressed during the later workshop, on topics linked to the programme’s behavioural objectives, which included: understanding self; managing self; interacting with others; collaborating across the business; leading through influence. CrossKnowledge also provided an online discussion forum, led by an ASK facilitator, enabling learners to virtually meet and interact.
They also completed a customised 360 degree feedback questionnaire, designed to reflect these objectives, subsequently receiving feedback with an ASK facilitator. Before attending the Workshop, they took part in coaching conversations with their Line Manager to review their Personal Development Plans.
The 3-day experiential workshop allowed learners to practise skills acquired from the online learning, sharing knowledge, skills and experience, and receiving rich feedback from facilitators and peers. Participants were also offered collaborative leisure and recreational activities to enable them to engage with one another outside of the learning sessions, establishing a greater connection to their colleagues before they interacted virtually during subsequent programme phases.
Online collaboration and support
Following the workshop, participants undertook seven weeks of workplace-based informal learning using the online CrossKnowledge discussion forum, which was moderated by an ASK facilitator to continue the learning momentum, support skills practise and transfer, and encourage social learning.
Line manager meeting and virtual action learning sets
In the final week of the programme, ASK-facilitated Virtual Action Learning Sets enabled learners to meet with their groups, present their progress to their peers and facilitators and receive rich feedback on their performance. Learners subsequently discussed their progress with their Line Manager, providing evidence for their accomplishments, and identifying key development milestones they had reached.
- 100% of learners agreed that the workshop enabled them to develop their skills to lead
- 91% of learners rated the programme as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, further agreeing that they would strongly recommend the programme to colleagues
“Excellent course and very professional. The openness on Day One created a very good bond with the teams. The interaction during Influencing styles descriptions was enjoyable and made you realise how the different styles work.”