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Hotel Chocolat’s senior leadership team is comprised of 11 heads of department and three managing directors, all of whom are ‘home-grown’ leaders – progressing through the ranks of the organisation via their technical specialisms.
The company’s Head of HR Rasila Vaghjiani worked with the senior leadership team to identify areas for improvement. They were very aware that the team, whilst talented and successful, included no external appointments, and there was a feeling that this might have produced some blind spots, with each person grounded in their own insular departmental background. They agreed that a leadership programme focusing on the development of behavioural competencies would be extremely beneficial, and Rasila embarked on designing a programme looking at self-awareness, situational leadership and breaking down interpersonal barriers.
Rasila and the team of managers (as well as their respective teams) have seen considerable changes in behaviour. People are actively adapting their behaviour in the light of the insights from the sessions, with an awareness of other people’s needs, as well as the skills to incorporate a range of viewpoints to make the best business decisions.
“People’s approaches are now completely different. Their teams are saying ‘Something has changed, but we don’t know what it is!’ They have become more inclusive and understanding. Subtle changes have made big differences – for example, people have become aware, when giving feedback, how they would want to receive it.”
People now understand the science behind behaviour and are therefore willing to be flexible, to empathise and to not hide behind their default ways of doing things. One example of the change is that the emailing culture, associated with high FIRO-B Affection needs, has become more targeted, with people cutting to the chase, and saving time.
Rasila also emphasises the element of fun that helped build the relationships and collaboration in the team. Keeping the lines of communication open helps to unite and bond the management team – so people are more willing to talk things through with their peers and sort out any problems.
The positive effects are so obvious that other teams are now asking for similar development. Rasila plans to cascade a simplified version of the training. “These will be more focused on the basics: self-awareness in the areas of conflict management, change management and decision-making”, Rasila concludes.
People’s approaches are now completely different. They are saying ‘Something has changed, but we don’t know what it is!’ People have become more inclusive and understanding.
Rasila Vaghjiani, Head of HR. Hotel Chocolat