An energetic, straight-talking CEO of a large division within a giant bank approached us to help her. On the surface, performance in her division was good but, underneath, there were big cracks between the silos in her team.
Her business unit heads were competing with each other, rather than working together. The division was facing increasing pressure from all angles in an uncertain market in which the only certainty was increasingly heavy regulation. There was greater scrutiny from a new Group board and some pockets of low morale across the division. She needed the team to rally behind her and tackle these pressures together.
Sharing honest feedback
First we carried out diagnostic interviews and a survey and shared these with the CEO. She reacted to the detailed, anonymous feedback we passed on like it was the best birthday present ever – lots of things to work on!
Building trust and collaboration amongst the team
She immediately summoned the team for an initial session, facilitated by us, to work through all the feedback and agree a plan of action. We then implemented the plan of action over about 6 months. We started with a couple of offsite sessions to get the team aligned on their shared priorities and begin to boost openness and trust. We then got her competing business unit heads to work together on some strategic topics that they all felt passionate about, so they built the habit of making decisions together. From a slow and frosty start, this way of working together became central to how the division was run.
Making decisions together
We subsequently reorganised the team’s meeting calendar so that they carved out time to do strategic thinking, problem-solving and talent planning, separate from the routine committee topics. Finally, we gave the team a common toolkit and language to help them have richer discussions and get to faster, better decisions.
Looking back a couple of years later, the CEO told us that, with our help, she finally had built a strong, resilient team: a group which worked together to manage their stakeholders, who talked through the big issues together, and who created a common culture in their division. This helped them navigate an unexpected market crisis more successfully than would have been possible in the past.