CORPORATE CASE HISTORIES

PREFACE

ELLI has been adopted in a variety of business and government environments and for a multitude of purposes. However, principal among them has been a desire for a change in mind-set that goes to the very heart of the culture of the organisation. Management of that change process has frequently led to the recalibration of habitual behaviours, the disengagement with learning that is no longer relevant, the challenging of deep-seated political and social influences and the rebuilding of workforce trust. Employee frustrations are often found to perpetuate as promises of change have, as far as the workforce has been concerned, come to nothing. Indeed, the desire for a culture change where individual contributions to strategic and operational progress are valued and celebrated, and where learning and personal development and open communication are the norms are found to underpin the quality of customer relationship management, profitability, productivity and competitive advantage. 

 

DISMANTLING THE INSTITUTIONAL IMPERATIVE

ELLI confounds institutional inevitabilities by giving the management of change a purpose and a direction. When driven by managerial commitment, belief and personal endeavour its adoption reaches to the grass roots and enables change in corporate practice to permeate the entire organisational fabric.

There is no ‘quick fix’ when it comes to overturning strategic and operational stagnation and the complacency it brings with it. The key lies with investment in the capacity, competency, personal development, and therefore the learning power, of the individual and the contribution they are capable of making to team productivity.

When asked, the majority of employees will nominate lack of regular and meaningful communication as the Achilles heel and priority for change, with insufficient investment in learning and personal development coming a close second.

50 YEARS: THE NEW AVERAGE WORKING LIFE

New entrants to the UK labour force are slowly waking up to the fact that everyone will need to remain marketable for at least 50 years. With employees having no option but to work towards, or into, their 70s, and with the acceleration of developments in technique and technology, it has become vital that learning and personal development is positioned as a central pillar of every organisation’s strategic agenda.

10 CASE HISTORIES demonstrate the power of ELLI in addressing the key challenges of creating open and trusted communication mechanisms, engaging the workforce at every level in day to day problem-solving and positioning learning and personal development as an essential pillar in the delivery of the strategic plan.

RETAIL

SUPERMARKET

The Challenge

The recruitment of staff to a number of newly opening stores in both inner city and out of town locations BUT ensuring those staff were appropriate to the culture and socio-economic circumstances of the expected footfall. In addition, to develop a programme of training and personal development in keeping with the parent’s changing approach to customer service.

       Methodology

  • Market research across the catchments using door to door questionnaires and shoppers exiting the 4 supermarkets/corner shops in closest proximity to the intended new stores;
  • Composite characteristic profiles of people most likely to achieve community engagement;
  • Recruitment process including ELLI profiling as part of an extended interview process;
  • Unexpected community synergies emerged with further similarities in those applying for inner city and out of town employment;
  • Individual ELLI profiles enabled the creation of individual store training and development programmes using curricula already available from the supermarket parent but bespoked to individual store and staff requirement.

       Outcomes

  • Performance of the new staff within the new stores outstripped expectation with usual staff turnover much reduced and after 2 years 85% of those recruited using ELLI remained in employment. They had appreciated an associated program of developmental interventions;
  • Introduction of ELLI more widely within the organisation
  • Revisions made to the supermarket parent’s internal curriculum of personal development offers.

RETAIL

HIGH STREET BOUTIQUE

The Challenge

The retiring owner/manager did not wish to sell a single store business that had been in the family for 100 years but allow grandchildren to become old enough to decide whether or not to take it on. Retirement had become necessary through ill-health. Staffed by 4 part-timers, all of whom were long servers and good workers with all 4 seeking to take on full-time management responsibility.

       Methodology

  • ELLI profiling as part of interview process addressing the motivation of all 4 aspirants;
  • Management of expectation in order to retain the services of the 3 unsuccessful candidates;
  • Despite a strong feeling of loyalty the 3 candidates sought personal development in order in have the skills to move on to managerial positions in retail elsewhere;
  • Management development programme devised to satisfy the aspirations of all 4.

       Outcomes

All 4 aspirants were found to be in fear of change due to their present jobs being their first, their relationship with the present management and their ages. In addition, aged in their 50s, they were being paid less than the minimum wage and finding it tough to make ends meet. A change of management revealed this lack of wage parity and the owner family became forced to put their trust in the successful candidate to make the necessary changes. She was able to do so and with the help of ELLI give the unsuccessful candidates the training and personal development they would need to seek managerial or supervisory roles elsewhere. 3 years later, all 4 are in High Street managerial positions with the successful candidate now recruiting young people into their first jobs and herself devising appropriate personal development programmes for them using ELLI as a platform. Her natural creativity is the hallmark of her initiative. Her relationship with the family has grown over the period she has been in charge.

BUSINESS SERVICES

ADVERTISING AGENCY

ADVERTISING AGENCY

       The Challenge

A workforce close to anarchy in response to rumours of merger and the shifting of employment from the provinces to London. Rumours were initiated by the predator’s staff in London but received constant denial by the regional company’s Board and shareholders. Staff responded by applying for local jobs available within the sector. Client campaigns, and therefore, sustained income, the proposed merger and the immediate livelihoods of the regional staff had become seriously threatened.

A client came to the rescue with the introduction to the regional Board of Pathways to Learning’s Workplace MarketingÔ methodology and its adoption of the ELLI assessment of Learning Power. Why  ELLI? Its ability to profile the entire staff complement immediately and in an unthreatening way, diverting attention away from the fear factors, providing the platform for multiple conversations and offering constructive guidance in personal development, none of which had been present previously.

       Methodology

  • On-line Workplace Audit conducted in complete confidence and with the option of anonymity received an 88% response;
  • ELLI profiling of all 117 members of the workforce;
  • Regional Board workshop;
  • Revisions to the company’s strategic plan identifying Learning and Personal Development as Critical Success Factors and, most importantly, opening the door to a Management Buy-Out as an alternative to a London-based merger;
  • Communication strategy, plan and implementation by a staff team;
  • New creative approach to Learning and Personal Development.

       Outcomes

  • Management buy-out;
  • No jobs lost and well-informed  job creation;

BUSINESS SERVICES

CALL CENTRE

       The Challenge

Operators are traditionally asked to work in teams with each team having its own portfolio of clients. On occasion they even dress the part they are called upon to play, and decorate their booths to reflect the character of the brands they work with. Thus, if they are to ‘live’ their allotted brands it is essential that there are strong relationships within the teams and that individuals, teams and shifts share their learning. Animosities and a desire by staff to impress their managers and obtain the bonuses that would be their reward were preventing information from passing between people in real time.

Personal, social, economic and political differences were getting in the way of the free movement of information. Individuals were allowing themselves to be distracted by their behaviours to others and teams were failing to recognize the importance of learning and information exchange in such as team bonding, the development of relationships and the delivery of service to the client and to their customers.

       Methodology

  • Time-consuming but rewarding time spent in one to one conversation with 3 shifts of 30, plus the 6 teams of 5 in each case, to gain an understanding of the root causes of the social and political influences undermining their performance;
  • ELLI profiled all 90 members of the workforce, both full and part time;
  • The staff were excited at the prospect of the profiles and, in particular, to matching their perception of their learning power with the reality;
  • The results surprised all concerned. The profiles of the biggest culprits in orchestrating the breakdown in relationships recorded very low scores in both Learning Relationships and Meaning Making.

       Outcomes

ELLI has provided the platform for the development of a revised training programme that expects attendees to model the flow of information for their clients and predict the consequences of breakdown at each link in the chain. Staff are now contributing to flow models for prospective client proposals and sometimes, even taking over presentation to prospects.

BUSINESS SERVICES

MEDIA INDEPENDENT

The Challenge

Break-away of a team of 8 from one of the UK’s leading corporate players. After 12 months preoccupied with the building of the client portfolio that had broken away with them, there had been little if any winning of new clients. The business leader had taken soundings from peers, clients and ex-colleagues around the market, only to find that his team were found to be arrogant, annoying and dismissive and thereby, largely unapproachable.

       Methodology

  • With the leader’s consent, the ELLI team set up a workshop posing as a prospective client with a very significant budget and such that to win it and work on it would require the engagement and commitment of almost the entire staff team;
  • The workshop enabled the team leader to illustrate the reasons for the early successes being short-lived and obtain the staff team’s resolve to change their behaviours by using ELLI as the platform;
  • Profiling resulting in individual staff schedules of appropriate interventions, some using existing clients as mentors.

       Outcomes

A gradual return to winning ways and with the courage to expose clients and prospects to the changes being made to create a change in business fortunes.

At least 2 of the resulting new clients introduced ELLI into their CPD curricula.

BUSINESS SERVICES

TRAINING PROVIDER

The Challenge

To ensure that recruits to courses were not only of similar levels of skill and knowledge but also of a similar willingness to learn. Many programmes had been less than successful due to participants being more concerned for ‘fun’ days away from their places of work than seeking to understand not only how they learned but the value that training would add to their performance on the job.

        Methodology

  • Pilot introduction of an assessment questionnaire appropriate to a sample selection of courses in combination with an ELLI Learning Power assessment;
  • Interviews with employers asked them to make the assessments on behalf of their employees in order to obtain their reactions, refine the questionnaire and refine the process;
  • ELLI assessments pre- and post-courses in tandem with an employer questionnaire and informed interpretation of the outcomes of both ELLI profiles.

       Outcomes

The procedure eventually extended to the full course programme. Unsolicited employer endorsements

BUSINESS SERVICES

CONSULTANCY

The Challenge

Recruitment of quality consultants serving the healthcare, automotive, logistics and technology sectors in particular, after several poor decisions. Need for a step-change in recruitment performance not only with UK-based consultants but those based overseas.

       Methodology

  • ELLI profiling of premier performers in each sector together with a control group of poorer performers and a further control group of the most recently employed;
  • Premier performers had particular strengths in Meaning Making, Critical Curiosity and Strategic Awareness which was not apparent in poorer performers;
  • New prospective recruits profiled as part of the process of selection for interview;
  • Profiling ultimately extended to consultants across the company and CPD programmes re-engineered to reflect the lessons learned from the profiling of the premier performers in each business sector; 
  • ELLI profiles of the most recent recruits used in combination with anonymised profiles of premier and poor performers to inform programs of personalised interventions. 

     

  • Outcomes

    A marked step-change in the performance of newly recruited consultants with the percentage successfully coming through their probationary periods greatly increased.

PUBLIC SECTOR

NHS TRUST

       The Challenge

Clinicians in the Operating Theatre failing to work as a team and being much more concerned to flaunt their status and thereby, seemingly, to enhance their reputations. Lack of humility and willingness to treat Theatre as a learning environment was frustrating some team members and in the most serious cases, to be believed to be putting patient lives at risk.

       Methodology

  • Hospital management having had no success in getting past the considerable egos to conduct meaningful conversations surrounding the need for teamwork, it was decided to recruit an outsider with credentials in a commercial environment and which clinicians could respect;
  • Individual conversations with the clinicians in order to determine where problems lay and how teamwork might be restored;
  • All were ELLI profiled but privately and unknown to their colleagues;
  • Individual and collective profiles were then shared with the clinicians, focusing on those who most frequently worked together in Theatre;
  • This exercise kick-started debate and with the external consultant as facilitator, clinicians began to feel confident in voicing their frustrations and making suggestions for improved teamwork;
  • Discussion resulted in a number of changes to team dynamics and a greater ability to be honest with one another.

       Outcomes

Early reluctance to participate in the profiling exercise is gradually became overcome with an ELLI pilot being undertaken to engage the nursing staff.

There is no doubt that teamwork has improved but there is still some way to go in clinicians believing that their behaviours are often less than perfect and that patient well-being can therefore be compromised.

PUBLIC SECTOR

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT

       The Challenge

Government threat of between 25% and 40% redundancy across all Departments following major recruitment drives from a number of successive administrations. Civil Service recruitment in central government had traditionally been a job for life. Many were now facing the need to think about their futures for the first time. This met with disbelief and wide lack of acceptance, particularly among the lower ranks.

The challenge was to bring a reality to the situation, encourage people to consider and identify the pillars of their marketability, introduce the concept of commerciality and relate it to public sector decision-making, putting both into the context of three Civil Service directives … the Leadership Statement, Competency Framework and Values Pledge.

       Methodology

With the support of the ‘Learning and Development’ (L&D) team, Pathways to Learning chose to engage their most experienced business consultant to lead the development of the programme. L&D had sought a program leader with strong commercial experience, a wealth of anecdotes and the bruises to prove it.

  • First obstacle with the client cohort was lack of familiarity with ELLI and a greater trust in such psychometric assessments as Myers Briggs;
  • A pilot group of staff at all levels completed the ELLI profile and their engagement with an instrument that was dynamic and became the platform for a ‘Learning Journey’ enabled this group to be the advocates with subsequent attendance at the programme of 6 workshops averaging at 88%;
  • It became apparent that there was a lack of familiarity with the 3 government directives, a lack of understanding of the significance of ‘learning’ in the day to day working lives of participants and performance management procedures rarely taken seriously. Training was seen as a day out rather than an opportunity to take advantage of the CPD curriculum on offer;

Workshops took place in the 3 major Departmental locations nationally with a growing realization among participants that with

  • increasing pressure on Departments to lose staff, the threat of redundancy and the need for personal marketability would not go away;
  • ELLI revealed a marked strength in Resilience across the cohort and with an equally marked weakness in both Creativity and Strategic Awareness. The workshops were specifically designed to address these shortcomings. Nonetheless, with Meaning Making a particular strength among the research community, their workshops were repositioned.

       Outcomes

Second profiles after 8 months of workshops, personalised interventions and supporting programmes showed considerable changes in participant Learning Power, rand with that an awakening to marketable attributes.

The ELLI team became inundated with equests for personal interviews to drill into the key skills and knowledge that would underpin marketability outside the Civil Service, assistance with first attempts at CVs, and role playing of job interviews. Some of the most reluctant participants were successful in finding jobs elsewhere which motivated their peers to seek alternative employment too. Others moved to more fitting roles within the Civil Service regionally.

COMMUNITIES

WORKING WITH THE ABORIGINES IN AUSTRALIA

Perhaps the most inventive and unusual work is embodied by the story ‘Taronga Zoo Breakout’, starring a new set of Australian bush animals. It was created by a group of indigenous students at Singleton High School, New South Wales, working with their teachers, an indigenous tutor from Newcastle University, New South Wales, and a member of the ELLI Research and Development team. A former indigenous student of the school, now a graphic artist, added life to the animals through vivid images.

They heard the ‘Learning Journey’ story and wanted a story with animals of their own, reflecting the deep connection of their indigenous culture with the land and symbolic meaning. This story, ultimately ratified and adopted by the elders of their community, became the focal point of the research project based at their school, which was entitled ‘Learning, Place and Identity’. It assumed an almost spiritual power, in the setting for which it was intended and in which it was conceived, moving some adults to tears when they heard it read aloud