An interview: Olympia, welcome back. We’ve already heard from you about Solution Focus Mentoring in organizations. You work with a variety of organizations on projects using the Solution Focus approach to change and growth. You’ve been designing tailored leadership development programs blending coaching and mentoring in order to bring proven ROI (Return on Investment).
Let’s focus on two recent cases in banking and pharmaceuticals. First, we’ll cover the bank case.
1. The ROI of working with a bank’s branch managers and their teams. What pleased the client most about the outcomes of the project?
In this case the client is a. the organization, b. the participating bank branch managers and c. the teams of the participating branch managers. So I will try to describe what outcomes pleased each group.
a. The organization was represented by the Training Dept of the bank and the Retail Dept. We are talking about a bank with more than 12,000 employees with more than 350 branches and an international network in 7 countries.
Despite the severe financial crisis that Greece suffered, the Training Department of the bank managed to continue this SF project and so far, it has been introduced to 300 of its branches in the last 7 years.
Latest ECB (European Central Bank) stress tests (Oct 2014) brought this bank in the first position amongst all other Greek Banks and amongst the 20 strongest banks in Europe!
In 2013, this bank was the most profitable corporation in Greece.
This organization is hard to impress and as a provider, you need to bring tangible results to keep a project alive. The ROI case study provided the Training Department with the hard data facts to support that the investment is worth it. What also worked, was the word of mouth from participating managers saying that they were impressed by the organization investing in such a high quality program amidst these times. The bank management could prove to people that they have not forgotten their people despite the financial problems.
b. the participating managers – through SF, managers said that they found a way to become “better people.” They found how to motivate their people beyond the usual incentives (bonuses) which have now been slashed and salaries have been reduced. So for them, SF was like a new window of looking at their people, focusing on their resources, and listening to them more openly. They also said that having the chance to talk to our team of coaches (they each had four individual sessions) was something new and a welcome relief.
c. Each participating manager initially chose a team member to develop further and then, the SF way of working was extended to the rest of the team. Within the program framework, the first step was a performance development session between the branch manager and the selected team member. The meeting was an SF “resource feedback” session during which the manager was telling his/her report all the resources he/she had detected and NOTHING else. Half of the participants reported that significant progress took place immediately after this meeting. The relationship level between the two improved and they both said that it felt so good to speak and hear something positive for once!
2. What were the distinguishing aspects of using Solution Focus within the project that made a difference for the branch managers?
According to what they said, one of the most challenging and intriguing elements was asking questions without knowing the answer! This is counterintuitive to being a banker where everything needs to be concrete and risk minimized. They found out that they needed to put on another hat when it is about people development, because people are not linear, and manuals are not available in order to manage them.
The other SF element that was impactful was the concept of looking at resources versus looking for gaps. Initially there was a lot of doubt as to how you develop somebody if you don’t focus on what’s missing. Our program design, which had a 6-month time frame, incorporated a workshop and 1-to-1 coaching meetings aimed at instilling this resource focus and we really witnessed a metamorphosis. Our major method for achieving this was simply us being focused on their resources. In the beginning, we had them ask us for more “concrete” feedback in the sense of what they were not doing correctly. In the end, when we would ask a question about one of their people, there was always a list of resources which was hard to stop…
3. Demonstrating ROI on projects is helpful to the client. How did you use Solution Focus in setting up and having people respond to the evaluation process?
SF is by itself focused on action and differences and this is what we based our ROI measurement.
Each participating manager drafted a set of development objectives. These objectives referred to their own development as coach-managers and their team members.
Each objective was described in a SF Preferred Future format detailing actions that will take place when things have reached a specific state with an emphasis on what will be different.
Then we used the Scaling to position progress, which we were tracking at each of the four coaching meetings.
Our SF questions for each objective were: What went better in relation to the last time? What are you doing differently? How do others know that you are doing something differently? How did you manage?
And all we did was just take note of all the wonderful outcomes delivered and then calculate their worth in order to find out the ROI of this project!
Thanks Olympia. We look forward to our next blog where we’ll be hearing about your shadowing work using Solution Focus with pharmaceutical sales people