Two previously competitive business, one larger than the other, joining together through acquisition, creating a culture clash for managers needing to move on together at pace to ensure the overall commercial results were maintained.
This was the issue – and by using a mentoring approach (Analysis/Reflection/Action or ARA), and taking time to mentor people with capability and potential, we overcame natural emotional reactions to change, and ensured existing talent from both businesses was retained, developed & engaged.
Coaching & Mentoring – Context & Challenge
The newly formed company invested in a mentoring programme to support the change. We were engaged to mentor business unit managers/leaders who found the acquisition difficult to adapt to and suffered loss of motivation, or feelings of being devalued in a larger business – which are typical responses in this type of change. This case study demonstrates how mentoring, followed by coaching can be used to support people through business change.
Coaching & Mentoring – Process & Insight
This type of change often unveils a surge of worry, fear and a “being done to” reaction. The levels affected are often at senior or middle management and support functions are duplicated.
Using an Analysis/Reflection/Action approach, we built rapport with the leaders affected over several meetings, investigating individual challenges together. We used structured questioning, open conversation, comparisons, sharing experiences and occasional raw emotional outbursts. We discussed and noted the pros and cons and worked through the reality of these, challenging pre-existing beliefs.
We identified quickly that challenges were not about skill, experience, technical ability or management capability, but about the ‘known’ environment shifting under them, naturally effecting confidence.
Once highlighted, we agreed a period of reflection to allow the leaders to decide what they wanted to happen – to stay or to go…
Mentoring means the control of the situation is always with the mentee… However, once the challenge is properly identified and opened, a variety of solutions are evident.
After reflection, most leaders decided to stay with the new, larger business. Recognising their collective resources, they realised they had different experiences and skills to bring to the newly formed business and new colleagues.
Coaching & Mentoring Solution
We co-created the success factors with each mentee, supporting the practical learning of the new ‘day job’. These included developing new relationships, meeting people at Head Office, understanding relevance of new processes. Each mentee kept a record of their achievements.
We continued to meet, review progress, or discuss issues which might look like barriers, leaving longer gaps between sessions, and within a matter of weeks we met with the leaders occasionally. We continued a ‘light touch’ support, as they settled and took control.
We encouraged leaders to share the ownership of important operational functions, accepting their way of working may not always be best, and to be open to letting go. Standardising decision processes using SOAP approach(Summary On A Page) helped to prioritise proposed changes that resulted in completion of a successful team merger and acquisition project.
Coaching & Mentoring Results
Each manager went on to build a successful career with this business. Each hold senior Customer Experience or Operations roles in UK or Europe. The business has formed an internal mentorship scheme ensuring all new leaders have an internal role model and supporter. Talent Retention is a critical factor in Long Term Business success and without this forward-thinking mentoring programme this talent would have been lost.
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Lindsey & Charlotte