The Fish Rots from the Head

Sector: Travel £4bn turnover; 10000 employees

The Situation.

Following a takeover, transformational world events, organisational changes including a redundancy programme and the appointment of a new CEO, there was a politicised and toxic environment. Having cut the Board from 16 members to 7, the CEO did not lack authority but had to authentically capture the Board to work with him and to work together. The Board was split. The team was bitterly divided into two camps: the old timers and the young new appointees. Disagreements were viewed as personal attacks. The new CEO had not helped circumstances by assuming responsibility for decisions without inclusion of the Board due to the interference of powerful stakeholders from the acquisition company. A number of the Board were strongly considering their position.

Our Work

Team Development and Coaching. The programme was centred on trust and the break down the political overtones. The first workshop brought out the unspoken issues regarding lack of acceptance and mistrust out in the open for discussion. It focused on the issue of trust head on. It confronted the CEO to lay down cards and confront mistrust – it was a seminal moment. Until this conversation is completed, and accepted by all parties, the Board could forget about accomplishing work effectively. The initial part of the programme was to help team members understand their similarities and differences explored within the context of the perceptions of each individual as to how the Board had developed. From this individual understanding, the real picture was exposed.

Results

The Board became a high-performing team working together for the next 4 years driving the organisation to increase margins. We became their trusted advisors of choice and worked with the Board on numerous programmes until the CEO left. The work developed into defining new values presented by the acquiring organisation, which were fundamentally different to those of the organisation. The Board initially had no real sense of these new values, or how they could live these values, but accepted them as necessary to transform the business to succeed in the future marketplace. We helped the Board to interpret the eclectic values into behaviours with which they could work and then completed further work with Regional Mangers to inculcate the values within the organisation. The programme was considered as part of a long-term fundamental change to the business rather than a one-off initiative and will deliver the following: its aim was to bring the values to life. The values were then cascaded throughout the organisation.