If you’re in charge of delivering a project, how do you ensure everyone involved is working together, in co-operation with one another, with an understanding of how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture?
If they’re focused too much on their own role, with self-interest influencing their behaviours, the effect on team performance can be very detrimental indeed.
Challenging individuals to work more creatively, and cohesively, has the potential to unlock new initiatives, boost motivation and improve team collaboration. Ultimately, it’s no exaggeration to say that it can add a startlingly positive impact to the bottom line.
We undertook a project for Swedish Engineering firm Sandvik Coromant which delivered such results.
We conducted a series of action learning sets, working with project managers with specific work related tasks.
Each participant was required to deliver a specific project related to selling through a network of Technical Distributors. Specifically, a key objective was to change their isolated approach to their work, encouraging them to work together as one team, and to look beyond the geographical boundaries that they were used to working within.
Each regional business development manager was intentionally given a project that had national scope. The projects were rooted in business performance e.g. changing the way distributors worked, improving capital sales or becoming more digital. Each person found real stretch in the projects as they were assigned new goals and targets that challenged their existing way of working.
They were purposely required to reach out beyond their own region, to test the market or research best practise in other parts of the UK.
Behavioural change through action learning
We conducted a series of action learning sets which were the primary means for project planning and review as well as obtaining insights into doing the work differently. Participants were able to air and share their experiences of working within the new parameters that they had been set. In so doing, they learned from each other, and their appreciation of one another grew as the programme progressed.
As well as the classic Action Learning approach, we often used a peer consultancy model which allowed for team input into the projects. To ensure each project could maintain momentum, everyone presented at each set which meant progress, challenges and successes were tracked and noted, adding to the learning experience each time.
Action learning sets always end with a set of actions, with individuals taking ownership and responsibility for their contributions and tasks. At Sandvik Coromant, these were recorded centrally and circulated as the team often had offers of help from each other – something that hadn’t previously been the case.
Outcomes beyond expectations
Creative ideas, team collaboration, renewed focus, vigour and motivation are just some of the outcomes that we witnessed, all of which contributed to attainment of new targets. In fact goals and objectives were often surpassed making a significant difference to the firm as a whole.
The work was intense and focused and achieved business impact as well as learning for the individuals, teams and organisation. As result of working in this way the team came up with a radical new way to manage sales in the UK, and as they had been the architects of change, they were fully on board to adopt this new way of working.
Participants made a closing presentation to senior stakeholders, who were able to see for themselves the business impact that this initiative had delivered.
What can action learning do for your next project?
Action learning was the primary tool used to work on and deliver the outcomes that we had set at the beginning of the programme. This approach can be used for specific projects across all sectors, for service and manufacturing organisations. If you would like your project teams to work more effectively, action learning provides the setting for positive, collaborative development at individual and team level.
With new relationships, ideas and initiatives in place, you may be surprised at the results that can be achieved.
For more details about our work with Sandvik Coromant, and how a similar initiative might help your teams, please do get in touch for a no obligation conversation.
Read more about how action learning can make a huge difference for teams and projects.