This is a blog post about one of the things that I have done that I am most proud of, and it would not have happened without a serious amount of persistence.
Key take outs:
- Persistence is often required – don’t give up!
- Up front research on an initiative is invaluable and can paint a vivid picture of reality even if it seems unpalatable.
- Front line managers usually manage a significant proportion of the entire employee population, yet often get overlooked from a personal development perspective (the money gets spent on senior leadership instead).
- There is always a place for process training on “what” to do, but helping front line managers with “why”, and “how” can be inspirational, game changing and drive commercial success.
Here’s the story:
I led the research, development and launch of “Ignite550” for Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) in 2016. This was a significant investment in people, linked to customer experience and was YBS’s first ever online/mobile self-development portal.
To start, we carried out research that told us YBS Group’s front line managers (over 500 people) felt dis-empowered, forgotten, disillusioned, frustrated and under pressure. We defined a front line manager as any manager who led teams of people who didn’t manage anyone else.
These front line managers, between them, managed 70% of the entire colleague population and the vast majority of people actually talking to customers on a daily basis. There was plenty of process training in place for these managers, but no formal engagement or development programme for them – and yet we entrusted 7 million customer interactions a year to their teams and expected them to live the brand values every day.
So engaging this group with “how” they could lead their teams became a long term commitment and priority. Inspiring them to be the best that they could be and lead their teams to performance success was pivotal to delivering a brilliant customer experience and commercial success.
Persistence was required. Not everyone was convinced this was necessary. We were “doing ok”, and we maybe had “other priorities”. So we embarked on a campaign of senior stakeholder engagement to tell the story, and paint the picture of what the research was telling us. It took some time, but we succeeded in securing the commitment for a significant investment to develop a programme to support YBS front line managers, at scale.
Built around a social media philosophy, the “Ignite550” programme delivered an easy access, optimised for mobile, secure microsite providing bespoke content for front line managers. Content was built with the help of a partner, using our own senior leaders, inspirational external content and critically, stories from the front line itself.
Launched at an inclusive event for ALL front line managers Ignite550 went live in a big way. With the full support of the Exec team, it was the biggest launch YBS had ever undertaken . This inspired a new approach to learning and leadership amongst front line managers who gained confidence, felt valued and in control and built greater belief in themselves that they could make a difference. After running successfully for two years, Ignite550 paved the way for a Group wide, award winning, learning and employee engagement platform which is still running today.