Context

The organisation is a healthcare and financial services organisation which was bought out by Guardian Royal Exchange who were in turn bought out by the AXA group. The programme began during a period of considerable organisational change. SML was specifically chosen as a management development strategy to facilitate that change. The programme was provided initially for 120 senior managers and was subsequently rolled out to all areas and at all levels of the business.

Aims

The organisation is a healthcare and financial services organisation which was bought out by Guardian Royal Exchange who were in turn bought out by the AXA group. The programme began during a period of considerable organisational change. SML was specifically chosen as a management development strategy to facilitate that change. The programme was provided initially for 120 senior managers and was subsequently rolled out to all areas and at all levels of the business.

  • To promote continuous development
  • To link personal development to the needs of the business
  • To encourage individual ownership of personal development
  • To facilitate cross functional support and networking
  • To promote a cost effective approach to development and training throughout PPP healthcare

As identified in the handbook given to managers at the start of the programme:

Process

  • Obtaining the buy-in and support of the CEO and HR Director
  • Design and development of the programme
  • Refurbishment and equipping of a Learning Resource Centre
  • Development of internal Learning Group Advisers with external support to enable the business to continue to support learning
  • Half-day introductory briefing session covering: the principles of the programme, diagnostic exercises and 360 process
  • One-to-one feedback sessions for 360 process
  • Three-day residential workshop including: formation of learning groups, mapping on organisational context
  • Learning Group Meetings held every six weeks over a period of nine months
  • Endorsement event where Learning Groups presented their achievements to the CEO, HR Director and members of other Learning Groups

Evaluation & Achievements

Evaluation Methods

  • In-depth interviews with senior managers
  • Focus groups with participants
  • Interviews with key stakeholders including the Chief Executive Officer
  • Questionnaire based survey of participants
  • Documentary evidence
  • Research conducted by Rosie Serpis

Achievements

  • Increase in confidence of Senior Managers to take action
  • Created culture of working collaboratively and inclusively
  • Many measurable improvements to business performance – e.g. new product development; fresh approach to market research; radical new way of creating and documenting Customer Service processes
  • Management Development shifted to business focussed, flexible, able to meet the changing needs of individuals and the organisation, fun, innovative and cost effective
  • Created a life-long capability of managing own learning

Quotes

From Peter Owen, (CEO of PPP healthcare at the time of the programme) when asked what he felt the organisation had achieved through the programme:

“I think there are six:

  1. The obvious networking benefit of people finding out what’s going on elsewhere.
  2. This may not be an obvious one, but I think it’s apparent from where I sit, I think there’s been a huge increase in self-confidence in the managers who take part in it. It may be a bit unconscious for them…but I think it’s quite important.
  3. As a way of, a method of, working. So not just the networking benefits of simply knowing what’s going on in other parts of the business, but of understanding that where we ultimately want to get to is that you don’t need a dictat coming down from the Policy Group, that, actually, managers see that we need to do this, to get together and get things done…there’s no sitting back as a spectator and waiting to be told… They [managers] see from that the power of just getting on and doing things.
  4. Another important benefit is the challenging side of it. This sort of process also gives people confidence in understanding that, in terms of our values, they have the right to be heard as managers, to say what they think, openly and not subversively.
  5. In terms of an organisation that is in an environment where change is going to be a constant bedfellow, then, clearly, this type of working is also conducive to that fresh approach all the time.
  6. There is the hard learning bit, what it enables people to do through the Strategic Learning Contract…where they need to learn new skills or gain a new qualification.

These are the things I see and applaud from it and I don’t really see any negatives: the talking shop is a potential negative, but I haven’t seen any evidence.”

Quote from a participant:

“The other important benefit is to do with knowledge creation. One of the most wonderful things about this process is that through the Learning Groups and discussions, you’re creating corporate knowledge. And, because you make things explicit, things happen. If you share the knowledge and ideas you have, or if people talk about things they want to do, things happen. Organisational knowledge is created when tacit knowledge becomes explicit – when it is shared and articulated through socialisation within the Learning Group.

It’s about creating concepts and making people plan and take action – action is very important. The more people are talking to each other, communicating, the sharper the company will be. There’s more action. If people keep all their brilliant ideas and thoughts to themselves, nothing will happen. This is a very focused way of getting ideas and knowledge shared. Corporate knowledge is created. Knowledge kept to yourself is useless, if you share it other people get excited by it and add to it – that’s really brilliant – it makes things happen!”