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Case Study: Leadership Development

Creating a culture of accountability, teamwork and excellence

Abstract

A prestigious northeast based healthcare system came to Wellesley Partners in a time of rapid change following the merger of several hospitals. Functional silos became the norm and change had proven very difficult to address. The VP of Finance built a strategic plan focused on merging the operations and culture of the finance organizations.

The strategic plan included the following cultural goals:

  • Create a culture of accountability and engagement by enabling real ownership, risk taking, constructive confrontation and engagement
  • Enhance collaboration and relationships to create efficiency and break apart functional silos

While successful with many operational improvements, after 5 years of frustration with the lack of cultural change, the CFO called Wellesley Partners to help him. WP worked with the team to build the “Management Development Initiative”, an innovative training and coaching program focused on creating real change by combining “what’s in it for me?” (career development) with the training on management and teamwork & collaboration.  The philosophy of this innovative program is to combine classroom training with individual career coaching aimed at maximizing a participant’s understanding of and passion for how he or she can best contribute to the organization.

With over 400 ‘graduates’, the program’s success is evidenced by its longevity. The program was created in 2004 and continues to run as a part of this organization’s ongoing commitment to organizational excellence through empowering individuals.

Major Issue

Changing a department consisting of over 1,200 employees was no small feat and insufficient change over the previous 5 years provided negative momentum. Individual behavior had not changed and though the organization was achieving improved results, interactions between people were still suffering and leadership engagement was minimal.

Program Description

In order to ensure that all constituencies’ needs were met and that all levels of the organization were engaged, the Wellesley Partners team worked with the management team, all financial staff (including CFOs) as well as the Organization Development & Training manager. The process was demanding, but the diverse expertise helped create a program that was universally accepted by the organization.

The following elements became the central tenets of the program:

  • VP of Finance Commitment
    • The VP of Finance has come to every program delivered since its inception.  He links the goals of the program to the real business challenges facing the organization.
  • The VP of Finance has come to every program delivered since its inception.  He links the goals of the program to the real business challenges facing the organization.
  • The Basics of Management
    • Address the needs of the working manager to create balance between time spent working and time spent managing.  This element is frequently critical to the success of a finance professional.
  • Address the needs of the working manager to create balance between time spent working and time spent managing.  This element is frequently critical to the success of a finance professional.
  • Career Development
    • Empower managers to develop and execute choices on their own to ensure that they were engaged and passionate about their careers.
  • Empower managers to develop and execute choices on their own to ensure that they were engaged and passionate about their careers.
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
    • Facilitate change and partnership by teaching skills of leading teams, artful negotiation and constructive challenging of another’s position.
  • Facilitate change and partnership by teaching skills of leading teams, artful negotiation and constructive challenging of another’s position.

The program consisted of individual assessment, one-on-one coaching and a two 2-day workshop. The first participants were the 150 top performing managers across the organization and the program has since grown to include new managers and additional departments within the organization.

Summary & Conclusion

The results of the program exceeded everyone’s expectations. The direct feedback to the program’s sponsor was extremely positive and some managers immediately started applying what they had learned. Managers reported back that teams were more productive and efficient, partly due to individuals’ newfound ability to speak up in a more candid manner and terms and techniques were rapidly becoming a part of the organization’s internal language.

The program’s success has continued over the past 9 years and is now a staple for the organization’s personal and management development.

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