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Launchpad works in a highly competitive sector, where reductions in grants and budgets have resulted in an extreme form of the survival of the fittest. The organisation was competing well in this difficult climate, undergoing a period of increased growth and success. But with expansion came change, with new managers joining the team, and the realisation that issues of teamwork, conflict and communication would have to be addressed if Launchpad was to thrive.
Growth was such that the organisation needed to reinvent itself. Managers needed to find new ways of working together effectively if they were to consolidate and build on Launchpad’s hard-won successes. The measure of success for this type of organisation is of fundamental significance: i.e. more people getting their lives back on track, with safe housing, and settled communities.
Launchpad brought in an OPP consultant to help diagnose the best starting point for development work, and to map out a programme of coaching and team sessions. The consultant began by ‘holding up a mirror’ to the organisation, for a diagnosis of key themes, problems and their potential solutions. Diagnostic interviews were carried out, not just with the management team but with other stakeholders such as Board members, staff and external partners, to see how individuals and teams were perceived, and to see what was holding them back. Each leader also took part in a 360 feedback exercise in order to understand their own individual strengths, development needs and what they were contributing to the team. Three personal coaching and six team sessions were then devised, which ran concurrently.
OPP’s consultant began by presenting the data back to the team in order to help them fully understand their starting point. The team then defined the overall aims of the programme, on personal and team levels, with particular focus on how to boost cohesion, creativity and innovation. The sessions examined how they could bring about constructive change, taking a long, deep, fearless – and sometimes painful – look at what could be left behind and what should be kept if they were to transform the organisation and move forward.
The team recognised that positive working relationships between leaders are vital, as it translates directly into efficiency and effectiveness. Launchpad’s managers were all focused on this key aim.
Through the development programme, the approach to change was very emergent, letting underlying issues rise to the surface. OPP’s consultant provided the environment and inroads for discussion; but it was certainly not an easy road. There was a bit of tension, due to the fact that a certain amount of trust had been lost prior to the development sessions. People needed to accept the confidential and ‘leak-proof’ nature of the sessions.
"If we were to achieve our goal, the management team had to lose old resentments", comments Ian Caren, CEO at Launchpad. "We needed to work together and move forward to make things better for everyone. It was a case of making sure we were able to pull in all the commitment and enthusiasm."
The OPP consultant managed to create a safe space for the development programme to unfold, where risks could be taken and views expressed with absolute honesty. This was vital for building bridges between the various managers and establishing new relationships within the team.
Launchpad came to recognise that team development is ultimately about the development journey of individual leaders, overcoming the challenges and attitudes that hold them back. Running individual coaching sessions alongside the team sessions was critical in providing space for each manager to explore the issues that were most relevant for them. The team came to realise that development is not just about techniques and models, but about really engaging with change within team relationships in order to turn a group of managers into a cohesive, high-performing leadership team.
"In session after session it became easier, going in without a hidden agenda and being open and honest", says Ian. "This was really important. The work offered an interesting angle on differences between team members. Disagreements were aired, on the basis of the conversations facilitated by the programme. It has made a fundamental difference to the organisation."
The development programme has been a great success, transforming relationships within the leadership team, and winning new business.
"It was a brilliant proposal, and we seized it", Ian comments. "It was crucial to the team to take that first step to bond people together. Having had the experience, there is now confidence that we can talk as a cohesive leadership team and develop further.
"We have recently won our biggest ever contract, on the back of this development programme. It was a hard won contract – managers bust a gut to get it. They wouldn’t have been so focused and committed were it not for this programme.
"I wouldn’t hesitate to call OPP back in if I felt we needed further development."
We have recently won our biggest ever contract, on the back of this development programme. It was a hard won contract – managers bust a gut to get it. They wouldn’t have been so focused and committed were it not for this programme.
Ian Caren, CEO. Launchpad