Assisting a newly merged executive team ‘find their feet’, connect and, provide development planning guidance.
VUCA is a term we are hearing more and more, but what does it mean and in what context, and can there be too much ‘VUCA’?
The Managing Director and Managing partner of an Organisation on its third reorganisation/merger in two years were concerned that there might be, and so commissioned a review of the Leadership team’s current shape in terms of strengths, gaps, hardiness and ambition. This was about finding a way to take the team forward positively, and in a way that would really help them lead the 1000+ staff also going through a massive change programme.
There were two phases for this work; an initial group session and follow up individual interviews combined with measures around resilience.
Phase one, the group session: Bringing the newly established team together for an hour or so to help them get to know each other and start to identify and talk about, where their strengths lay (individually and collectively). Taking a positive psychological approach, we explored some personal examples of where their own strengths had shone through. Following which we explored what that meant for the group and where they saw themselves having the greatest strengths to draw on; especially during the challenges ahead.
Phase two was interviewing the team individually, exploring a range of subjects in semi structured, coaching style. This included questions about Hardiness, strengths, habits and ambitions for the future (for them and the organisation). During this we also looked at their MBTI types – this is a common language in this organisation and one that these team members were used to dealing with, making questions about their style, their approach, easier to conceptualise. Added to this was an undertaking of the iResilience tool from RobertsonCooper, again to build a picture of where they were right now given the amount of change already experienced.
These methods were chosen to ensure that the discovery session was a positive experience.
In order to provide the MD and MP with something tangible, a thematic analysis was applied (largely latent, but aspects of constructionist emerged). The critical organising theme (central issue) was the merger of the 3 organisations.
A Executive Development Report was then produced containing information on the groups MBTI type, the current level of Hardiness displayed and their overall resilience (including what to watch out for). there were 5 major themes emerging: Empowerment, Trust & Honesty, Bureaucracy, Adding Value and Succession Planning.
It also contained guidance and advice on Ambition and Succession for this group (how to approach, what support needed and where to start pulling from), overall areas of strengths and concern, current gaps and potential options for lay advisor roles (to fill gaps) and most importantly, guidance on development pathways / interventions for individuals and as a team.
The MD and MP could then utilise this to help the team cement and then grow, to the benefit of the individuals and organisation.
• It is hard for Executives to really be honest with each other despite outwardly committing to ‘honesty’ and ‘openness’ within the organisation, during such a heavy period of change and high expectation. This approach allows them to open up and engage in constructive conversations
• There are a variety of intricate and intrapersonal drivers of this: coaching at the team level allows for a safe environment to be created.
• It is really important to get the Senior Teams operating well together if you are expecting them to lead others through complex and lengthy change programmes. But, it has to be meaningful, and the outcomes need to be acted upon to retain trust.
• This has implications for whether the team will be able to work well, stay resilient and move forward positively together and, demonstrates how newly merged teams can feel cognitive dissonance.