See how MBTI boosted strategy, communication and teamwork
A thriving service business for occupational pension funds and life insurance companies, Forca serves 11 different companies with over 500,000 clients from both public and private sectors. It is jointly owned by three occupational pension funds.
Forca originally emerged out of a pension fund serving only clients from the public sector, but it later transitioned into serving clients from the private sector too, and since 2006 has operated as a commercial organisation with a client-focused approach to tap into a growing market need.
This shift into becoming a privately-owned business was seen to be innovative and cutting edge in Forca’s native Denmark, but has nonetheless proven commercially viable. Next year will see Forca working with a substantial new customer to deliver a pension fund with 20,000 clients within the financial sector.
With the creation of the new organisation came the expected challenges that any newly established group might anticipate: a young team of senior leaders with little experience of working together, difficult cultural challenges when existing staff merge with newly employed staff, and a sense of urgency about implementing the new business strategy swiftly.
Keen to embrace the challenges presented by the transition, Jes Damsted, CEO, wanted to apply his personal experience of, and belief in, the importance of high performing teams and their impact on organisational performance.
Recognising that senior leadership effectiveness was critical to building success across a business with no existing structure, Jes created an exploratory team of both senior and middle managers to outline the strategic critical challenges Forca faced as a newly formed company.
Jes had used the MBTI® instrument in the past in his own professional development and appreciated the positive nature of the instrument to express the unique preferences of all individuals. He was interested in what impact these preferences have on how people address and react to problems and issues in a business setting. Acknowledging that his new team of senior leaders was struggling with trust and empowerment issues, Jes saw the MBTI instrument as an effective way of bringing his senior leadership team together. He thought that if they could understand themselves and their fellow managers in more depth, then better communication and collaboration could be built at the highest level of the organisation, and in turn would drive the business forward.
Forca partnered with OPP to help them build the senior team. All members completed the MBTI questionnaire and individual feedback sessions were held for all managers. OPP also ran a full-day team session using real-life scenarios for role plays in which leaders began to see their MBTI preferences take shape.
One by one, the managers learned the value of their increased self-awareness and improved understanding of their peers. They began to see how these new insights could help them move Forca forward, and recognised that the MBTI process had initiated important discussions, rather than being simply another personality tool.
OPP’s solution brought balance to Forca’s senior leadership team. The group now operates more efficiently, with a better understanding of themselves and how they address issues, and a new-found respect for their colleagues’ approaches to communication and problem-solving. This shift has been remarkable for Jes: “Issues that used to take several days or several weeks to resolve are now discussed freely in a single meeting”, he comments.
Since completing OPP’s teambuilding experience, the leadership team has compartmentalised its meetings to separate strategic and development discussions from operational discussions - something the young company had not entertained in its earlier days. “This was a direct result of the team build. We came to understand that in order to be effective, we need to apply what we had learned to our meeting management within Forca, as much as we needed to build them into our interpersonal relationships. This shift in how we run meetings has alleviated a significant amount of stress that had been bubbling up within the management team. For this in itself, we are grateful for what we learned through the team build.”
Use of the MBTI instrument has been successfully cascaded from the CEO to become an essential tool at all levels within Forca. According to Jes, any intervention brought into an organisation must be anchored at the senior management team level, otherwise it is likely to become just another personality test or a one-off training experience offered through a particular department.
Jes has benefited from the incorporation of the MBTI instrument into Forca’s business. During the team building session, in particular, he was able to see how his senior team members reacted differently to similar situations and how each of their reactions could add value to problem-solving discussions. “It is easier to manage having had this insight. Trust has improved considerably across the team and each member is empowered to bring their unique styles into the management of the company. The team is able to get to the core of problems much more effectively and efficiently with a collective ownership of the final solution. I feel much better knowing that my next level of leadership has solid foundations of trust, respect and talent to problem-solve on my behalf.”
Forca remains committed to OPP and the MBTI process, with senior managers currently bringing the MBTI tool and team building experiences into their own teams to further cascade the insights they have gained around interpersonal relationships and communication.