What we did to put them back on track.
The regional organisation provided an essential service to the NHS. It had secured a range of contracts and had become a substantial business.
The Directors had worked hard to establish the business, but success prompted some to want to ‘do their own thing’. Tension developed between the rebels and the centre. Having created a strong brand and a reputation for delivering a clear and consistent service, the CEO and Board wanted to maintain the integrity of the brand. Trouble loomed.
We have not named this organisation for two reasons:
- Kennedy often works with organisations experiencing significant difficulty. Frequently they know there is a fundamental problem, and despite attempts to resolve matters, have not been able to do so.
- We guarantee absolute discretion. We are given privileged access to highly confidential information as well as to the key individuals involved. We cannot betray that trust.
Having functioned well and shared the agenda as the business grew behaviour of the Executive deteriorated and become dysfunctional. Meetings would end with decisions taken, but there was no shared commitment to implementation. For some acquiescence became the norm, saying ‘yes’ but having no intention of following through on the decisions.
There was a need to review the estate strategy to secure the right accommodation as the organisation grew. Increasing staff numbers required the right facilities in the right geographic area. This became an ongoing tussle. It proved impossible to agree a strategy that all could support.
There was also a need to agree the services that should be managed from the centre, and those that should be managed by the Regional Offices. This was seen as a direct threat to the roles and responsibilities of some of the Executives. An apparent agreement at the conclusion of one meeting was re-opened at the next making it desperately difficult to reshape the organisation. Without agreement, services could not be delivered cost-effectively.
The inability to tackle critical issues resulted in individual members of the group finding it hard to be courteous. The atmosphere became toxic.
This was frustrating for everyone and set a terrible example to the rest of the organisation. Some staff felt allegiance to their own Director and not to the business. Cliques began to emerge within the Executive and among the staff. Working across the departmental boundaries became unpredictable, with some groups refusing to work alongside their colleagues.
A truly disruptive and unmanageable situation.
What prompted them to ask for help
As the tensions became more public there was a real possibility that the NHS would not renew the existing contracts. Having no alternative marketplace the business would be decimated.
Several attempts were made to use the internal resource to resolve matters. Then an external consultant was asked to address the problem. But the behavioural problems continued, threatening the stability and future of the company. Disruptive behaviour became the norm for some.
Action was required.
The Kennedy Approach
Kennedy was asked to find a solution.
We organised several workshops looking at the underlying cause of the problems and began the process of building an agenda all could relate to.
We profiled each person using our Decision & Interaction Analysis (DIA) which highlights their thinking pattern. This unique pattern stabilises at maturity and stays throughout life. It identifies how we approach our decisions: the processes we focus on, the sequence in which we take a decision, and our interaction needs with others.
This confidential information provided valuable feedback to each person and led to an understanding of why some relationships worked well and others were problematic. It also identified how an individual profile could be used to enhance both their own and the group decisions.
Subsequently, the aggregate and anonymised data was drawn together in a team report. This detailed the strengths on which the group could build, the likely pitfalls, and the modifications they could create a more cohesive and effective Executive. It highlighted many of the causes that had led to the breakdown of trust and confidence
This study was reinforced by two further exercises.
- The Board and Executive worked together to identify the Critical Success Factors key stakeholders would use to judge their success. This provided a clear long-term focus for the business.
- The Executive crafted a Code of Conduct they could use to monitor their own behaviour and to cascade through the organisation.
Kennedy’s work resulted in:
- The profiling enabling each person to reflect on how they contributed to the team and the modifications which could improve the impact they had on others.
- A greater understanding of how colleagues worked and guidance on how trust and confidence could be re-established.
- Recognising how decisions could be managed more effectively: with everyone focused on the same stage of the process it was possible to achieve a genuine commitment to implementing the decisions reached.
- Recognising that some Executives needed to share their thinking, while others needed to think privately before sharing their views. This made it possible to accommodate colleagues without making value judgements based on the way they related to the group.
- The Critical Success Factors refocusing the business model thereby showing what and how services should be offered.
- A changed structured to reflect the new business model.
- A Code of Behaviour that could be used to monitor behaviour of the Executive. This was cascaded through the organisation facilitating more constructive and courteous behaviour.
- The NHS contracts being renewed, and the reputation of the business restored as a trusted and reliable supplier.
If you experience dysfunctional behaviour in your organisation arrange a call to see how we could help resolve matters.