Building a High Performing Team
Posted on 4th July 2022 at 16:24
"I’ve known and worked with Freddie for a few years now. Initially we worked together as part of a team co-creating new company values – a task requiring insight, professionalism, diplomacy and drive and an ability to connect with all levels and departments across the company.
More recently, I’ve asked Freddie to help me and my team become a true High Performing Team. We’ve worked very closely together on this and Freddie has given me the inspiration and confidence to make this a really high priority – and its working! My team are enjoying the workshops – even though they are mentally and emotionally challenging. During the lock-down period, we have carried on, holding shorter sessions every week. Continuing this momentum has been invaluable and ensures that our journey to being a High Performing Team continues"
Paul de Lusignan – Director at Suzuki GB PLC
Suzuki’s Motorcycles, Marine and ATV (Quads) teams had undergone a re-organisation. Paul de Lusignan had been appointed leader for all three teams in one new division. He quickly recognised the division was problem focused, not professional and people didn’t feel like they mattered, despite Suzuki GB having a core value that says ‘We care for each other and everyone matters’. The Head of HR agreed “The team were fragmented, the annual engagement survey results were very poor, there was constant friction in the team, staff turnover was high, no clear leadership and HR concerns were being raised by multiple employees almost daily”, a message other stakeholders shared. The area sales manager said “team members left, an unhealthy atmosphere with no trust or respect prevailed. It was unpleasant, dysfunctional, not fun and unrewarding”.
The annual employee engagement survey(1), June 2019, quantifies the low engagement: 17% of employees were actively engaged and over 22% actively disengaged; a staggeringly low 8% (2)absolutely agreed that they trusted the information they were given, a whopping 56% were unsure or disagreed. There was a lack of clarity, distrust, conflict, mis-communication and a lack of team ethos. Reports from other stakeholders confirmed the teams were fragmented, lacked leadership, were disorganised and office politics and conflict was rife. They were only hitting 3 in 12 sales targets, overspending against budget and were seen as the ‘poor relation’ within the wider Suzuki GB business.
Paul was clear - people, professionalism and productivity mattered and within a year he wanted the division aligned with Suzuki’s vision and values, to develop an inspirational workplace and a team of employees who felt valued and were clear and excited about the vision, worked collaboratively and were highly engaged. The teams leaders wanted the division to “be seen as professional and work as a team, be passionate about what we do.”; “be a more positive team, communicate and engage with our employees regularly”; “work together to find solutions” and “be focussed with a clear direction”. Paul also wanted evidence based results to measure the impact. He contacted Freddie Guilmard, MD of The Red Thread Partnership, already known to Suzuki having successfully supported the development of their vision and values, to discuss how to develop a high performing team within a year.
Working in partnership with The Red-Thread Partnership, the division embarked on the RTP High Performing Teams programme, starting in June 2019 with a two-day off-site workshop. In the workshop(3) the leadership team co -created the programme objectives(4): (a) to align the division with the Suzuki vision and values, (b) build a high performing management team and division capable or meeting it’s ambition, (c) build employee capability and improve engagement (d) define purpose and agree strategic priorities (e) work with the business values to define the behaviours for the division.
Over the year the leaders, their teams and stakeholders worked with a range of tools and techniques led and coached by The Red-Thread Partnership in group and individual sessions, initially face to face moving online when the pandemic hit:
(1) One of the most powerful tools of the HPT programme was the ‘Future backwards’ (5) session, which involved the finance department, HR, dealership manager and the division leaders. This technique, unusually, starts with leaders describing their desired future and working backwards to today creating a solution focussed roadmap to deliver their vision. They also work backwards from their worst feared future state, a process that sets out key warning indicators for the development project.
(2) Using SWOT(6/7) analysis and MBTI the team explored how they worked together, reflected on their personality preferences and how these influenced the team dynamics(8). Being open, honest and authentic and sharing these together started to build the much needed trust between the team members. This was supported by exploring the Tuckman high performing Team development process/model.
(3) The leaders mapped all the division’s stakeholders showing the relationships between all of them and scoring the quality of the relationships. The analysis was informed with data from 1:1 interviews with key stakeholders. From this the leadership drafted a stakeholder relationship development strategy, leveraging their strongest relationships and investing time strengthening others.
(4) Co-creation of a team vision: employees and stakeholders voted on ‘We are a united team working in partnership with all our customers to deliver commercial success with passion and fun’ from a choice of two. This was aligned with the Suzuki vision, was people focussed, outcome driven and allowed ‘fun’. The leadership team co-created, and shared with their division, their golden rules(9) that clearly set out how they were going to behave as a team. In addition, each leader wrote personal commitments(10) which were reviewed at every subsequent team meeting and which proved pivotal in the success of the initiative.
(5) The leadership team worked through the World Class Manager online leadership and management programme; refining their people management skills and improving how they lead their teams.
(6) The leaders created a 30, 60 and 90 day action plan to clearly set out how they were going to deliver their vision. By creating a RACSI for each stage they clarified their individual and joint purpose, roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities. They agreed who needed to be consulted about which step, where the resources were going to be focussed and how they were going to communicate this to the rest of the business and their stakeholders in an honest and timely manner.
(7) Weekly team meetings (11) and socials were set up, building trust and developing the team’s culture. These moved to Zoom once the pandemic started and despite everyone working from home, actually brought the division closer together because of the open and honest way they were conducted, with everyone, including the leaders, sharing their personal challenges. This significantly helped in building trust and a more collaborative, respectful team.
(8) Early in 2020 they licensed Officevibe, an online engagement tool used to gather instant feedback, asking team members five randomised questions weekly on areas such as job satisfaction, relationship with manager, relationship with peers, recognition, wellness, trust, respect. Using it allowed the leaders to take prompt action based on the feedback, driving performance improvements. The use of Officevibe was key in signalling to colleagues that their voice mattered and that they were core in delivering high performance for the division. Specifically feedback in Officevibe during the pandemic prompted the deployment of a ‘wellbeing’ strategy that had a hugely positive impact. The Head of HR said it “had been ‘pivotal’ in turning a once negative place to work, into an inspiration for the whole of Suzuki”.
(9) Collectively the division developed a new identity for Motorcycles, Boats and ATVs– changing the name to BBQ (Bikes, Boats and Quads) (12), the simple double entendre linking to the outdoor leisure dimension of the product range and creating energy and excitement in the team. To celebrate the change the team redesigned the office(12) so colleagues returned from the first lockdown to small gifts and a completely new feel, giving a real sense of having left the old behind and starting afresh with positive intent.
The impact was felt almost immediately. The first workshop proved transformational. Initially reluctant, by the end of it, the leadership team had a clear sense of why the division and their team existed and they had all committed to its success. The process of agreeing their ways of working had cleared the air and allowed the team to bond and develop the trust they were going to need to succeed in becoming solution focussed.
The impact of the initiative on the people, productivity and professionalism are clear in the evidence collated from annual surveys, Officevibe data, sales targets and testimonials. In Suzuki’s annual employee engagement survey 2020(13) active employee engagement rose to a phenomenal 62% ( 17%); actively disengaged reduced to zero; trust in information given rose to 96% (52%) and confidence in being heard rose to an incredible(14) 96% (56%). All this success accomplished when 50% of the initiative took place through a pandemic!
Suzuki now see BBQ as ‘the most engaged team in Suzuki’(15); High Performing Teams diagnostic questionnaire data shows scores (1-5) in relationships, purpose, stakeholders and capability all rising from 1, at the start of the year, to 3.5 and above by its end. Officevib) data net promoter scores moved from 40/100 in May 2020 (6 months after the beginning the programme) to almost double at 70/100 by March 2021. Overall engagement is at an all-time high of 8.6/10; relationships with managers are thriving at 9.3/10; wellness and happiness score continue to rise from an all-time low pre HPT programme to a score of 8.3/10.In 2019 the division were not outcome focussed, hitting only 3 out of their 12 monthly sales targets and were overspending due to disorganisation.
Within a year BBQ have exceeded all their annual sales targets – a phenomenal achievement. Suzuki’s Director of After Sales sums up the impact; “People who saw the division as it was 18 months ago wouldn’t have believed they could do it. I give them 10 out of 10.”
Mindworks Marketing, a supplier, said - “there has been dramatic change - transformed - feels like a real team with enthusiasm for success.”
The Managing Director of Suzuki UK, recognised BBQ as the most engaged team in Suzuki, for making significant progress engaging its employees, inspiring the team and changing the culture.
Head of Motorcycles “BBQ is seen as a united team, and they’ve started to take us all seriously.”
Head of HR “A year on and the team are commercial, focussed, they have a respect culture, they understand blocks and find solutions. The introduction of Officevibe was pivotal for instant input, quick celebration and solutions. The team deserve to win a medal for championing better working lives and proving that people matter.”
Area Sales Manager “the change from how it was two years ago is so impressive, we are now seen as part of a vibrant division where everyone wants to succeed, do their best, to convey their pride in the company to our customers.”
Share this post: