A Real Commitment to Authentic Improvement

A pharmaceutical company needed a training program for its managers.  The training was going to hone in on the managers’ communication skills, but was also going to address larger issues that commonly afflict working environments.

The importance of building trust is often overlooked.  Many leaders think of themselves as trustworthy, but they have not established trust with their employees.

Trust goes beyond ethical and legal behavior, although those are important components.  Trust involves creating a culture where employees believe that their supervisors are looking out for them.  Such an atmosphere allows employees to be accountable, take ownership of their duties, and perform their best work. 

Trust was indeed a problem at the pharmaceutical company.  The staff did not have enough faith in one another to execute solid plans, let alone implement innovation.  And while the rate of overall turnover was decent, the company had trouble holding on to its most talented people.

There were frequent arguments and one manager in particular had frequent temper tantrums.

Although it was believed that the lack of trust was a primary cause of the organization’s issues, it was thought that fear of conflict and an autocratic management structure were also factors.  In addition, the managers did not understand their own behavioral patterns or those of their peers.

They made no effort to understand each other.  Culture clashes were legendary, especially between the salesmen and scientists.

Developing communication and leadership skills in such an atmosphere was a difficult task, but the organization was determined to help the managers improve in multiple areas, establish a culture of trust, and create real change.  Such goals would require an intricate process of skill building, with time built in to give participants ample opportunity to learn and use their new habits. 

DiSC Classic Profile and the Work Expectations Profile were vital parts of the first part of the training program.  The DiSC Classic Profile and the Work Expectations Profile were administered to the managers. They discussed the results with an emphasis on the importance of knowing one’s own behavioral pattern and motivations.  The participants were eager to learn how the DiSC model could help them resolve people problems, and they garnered tips on how to facilitate change.

There was also talk about identifying and satisfying employee needs.  The module was the first step toward building trust.

The mangers knew that they would have to be good teachers for their employees to gain the same insights that they were getting.  After guiding their workers through the DiSC Classic Profile and the Work Expectations Profile and discussing the results, the managers saw that their employees were just as eager to improve their work environment as the leaders were.  The enthusiasm for distributive learning lasted throughout the program.

Next the participants responded to the Personal Listening Profile.  The fact that different listening approaches could be the cause of miscommunication was news to the managers, who saw fresh proof of the importance of perception.  The Personal Listening Profile’s insights led to a discussion about mentoring skills, and the participants learned the basics of coaching and counseling their employees.

The Discovering Diversity Profile was then used to show how developing understanding and acceptance was not only beneficial to employees, but essential to a positive work environment.

The next session on the Time Mastery Profile was a hit with the participants.  By learning how to prioritize better and minimize interruptions, the managers added to their rapidly expanding base of skills.  The leaders were beginning to understand that to be effective they had to manage the environment, not their people. 

Effective teamwork was addressed with Team Dimensions Profile.  The managers saw how using the Z-Process could smooth interpersonal conflicts and foster innovation.  They also discovered more about the importance of roles and preferences.

Again, the point made was that behavioral style or role is no excuse for poor performance.  It was made clear that you can’t just say, “That’s the way I am.”  Communication skills can always be improved.

Another key element of the training was the Coping and Stress Profile.  It was believed that the Coping and Stress Profile would help the managers learn how to handle their jobs even under stress.  Because such grace under pressure is an essential function of leadership, the lessons proved to be an excellent segue to the final module.

The next goal was for the managers to maximize their leadership abilities while synthesizing all the skills they had learned to that point.  The Dimension of Leadership Profile was a significant component of the training.  The Dimension of Leadership Profile was discussed with the managers, making it clear that a shared-leadership environment was the optimal scenario.  There was also reinforcement of the lessons of prior sessions, paying special attention to the DiSC model.

By the last module, the managers were much more aware of their own behavioral styles, roles and motivations.  They knew their own strengths and weaknesses.

The participants also had enhanced their communication and leadership skills, which helped them develop effective strategies for their positions.  In addition, the managers learned that styles and preferences are not superior or inferior to one anther, and that different styles often require different approaches. 

Such insights helped ease conflict in the workplace, most strikingly with the manager who previously would blow up at the slightest provocation.  The supervisor learned not to take everything so personally, and he adjusted his behavior rather than become frustrated with his colleagues.  He doesn’t explode in rage anymore.  He understands now why miscommunication happens and how to resolve it.

Many other individuals improved their communication skills as well, and even the interaction within departments improved.  As a result, well-qualified workers stopped fleeing the company, and many participants were promoted into senior positions.  The final proof was that the organization saw higher scores on a 50-point competencies scale.  The managers are better leaders and the employees have a greater sense of engagement, commitment, and purpose.

Purpose-driven work provides more motivation than external rewards do and developing a culture of trust means that people are free to do their best work.

Inscape Publishing Case Study