Success Stories and Case Studies
These are examples of success stories working with SMART Conversations®, and in some cases supported by coaching and consulting services. If this sounds familiar, we are confident that our services can address your challenges and opportunities too.
Case No. 1
The firm is a consulting civil engineering firm, based on the east coast, with over a dozen office locations across the USA. Recently, the firm purchased a smaller firm with several offices in CA. The acquired firm’s regional manager was actively working to complete an integration of the combined office operations in the region. The process of integration was proving to be more difficult and slower than hoped by both the regional manager and the corporate office.
After a litany of “unfriendly” discussions and emails back and forth and misunderstandings between the regional manager and a senior leader at the corporate office, their relationship broke down and this breakdown escalated to a crisis. Each of the two battling senior managers were convinced that one of them had to leave the firm to resolve the impasse.
The first step was to bring the two senior managers together in a relationship coaching process. The coaching began with a “venting” process allowing both managers to express their side of the story in a safe and open manner, without needing to defend themselves. This led to a conversation that confirmed several misunderstandings, and ultimately replaced those misunderstanding with both greater self awareness and an understanding that incomplete and fragmented communication was the root cause of the problem.
The relationship coaching was complete in three months, and was so successful that these two senior managers became strong professional friends, and the regional manager was promoted a year later. Subsequently, they worked effectively together as peer members of the firm’s corporate management team for many years.
Once the relationship of the two senior managers was mended, and recognizing the root cause of the breakdown was ineffective communication, the firm decided to use SMART Conversations® training to enhance the effectiveness of conversation and the relationships between members of the senior leadership team. The results of this training were deemed by senior management as a great success prompting them to invest in SMART Conversations® training for their entire staff across the company. At the time, this was 400 staff and has grown to more than 1,000 staff nationally.
Since completing SMART Conversations® training, the firm has achieved: its highest ever profitability, highest ever volume of new contracts won, recruited many highly talented senior staff to the firm, and has successfully negotiated the purchase and integration of a highly synergistic 30 person firm in its western region, doubling the firm’s staff and revenue there. Learned skills from SMART Conversations® were key to getting through the purchase negotiations successfully and helping the integration process significantly.
Also SMART Conversations® played a significant role in the increased collaboration between all regions and offices. This had a major positive impact on profits as the firm has been able to more effectively bring resources to projects from across the country, and more effectively assemble the best internal teams across regions to win significant work
Another benefit the firm has recognized is that many individuals now have much greater self-awareness of how they are reacting to other people and to new information in conversations, and can manage their personal tendencies to fight, flight or shut down before it blocks communication. Also, staff is better able to recognize such tendencies in others and help keep their conversations on track.
Case No. 2
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ largest secretariat (pop. 27,000), was facing a massive change initiative. An anticipated 50 percent of the population were eligible for retirement in the next five years and many people with 25-30 years of experience were retiring.
The exiting brain trust threatened to deplete the organization’s “soft” assets, putting the institutional knowledge and social capital at risk. Doing less with more was also an emerging issue, as state budget cuts had become the “new normal.”
The secretariat needed to create continuity and a smooth transition through this epic challenge. They needed a comprehensive organizational development solution that would prepare them to seamlessly begin to replace a generation of employees and managers.
The secretariat began focusing on developing a robust supervisory skills program as part of a larger professional development initiative to serve as a feeder into middle and upper management positions.
This leadership skill building program would focus on preparing high-potential employees for managerial positions and to open up those jobs to new internal recruits.
Their approach: design and implement a comprehensive organizational development solution to align 27 agencies to provide a cohesive, collaborative solution.
The program comprised three components:
- Aspiring Supervisors Program (ASP)
- Succession Planning
In Phase I, SMART Conversations® (SC) foundational training (part of a larger SC Mastery Program) was incorporated into a larger supervisory initiative, a projected five-year program involving 200 staff/year.
As a result of the success of the pilot program, the training was opened up to the entire secretariat. The program was immediately wait listed and expanded.
Representatives of the Center for Health Information & Analysis (CHIA) and the Massachusetts Hospital School (MHS) attended SC classes. Based on positive experience, the leadership of these two agencies decided to take on their own SC program to tackle issues including, but not limited, to:
- CHIA – developing a “best place to work” culture in the Commonwealth by improving the quality of conversations.
- MHS – Improving cross-functional collaboration to provide the highest quality of service to their patients.
- Certifying two trainers each to increase the impact of SC in their respective organizations. They also plan to implement SC Learning Team applications as early steps in implementing a SC Mastery Program.
- CHIA has decided to provide SC training to their entire staff.
Case No. 3
SMART Conversations® was used as a core program in a large telecommunications company’s Leadership Development Program for middle and senior managers. A resultant merger/acquisition between this company and another large communications company exposed missing skill sets needed to create and sustain relationships during a period of intense change. The communications company was extremely entrepreneurial, highly leveraged and constantly changing. The older of the two organizations was somewhat bureaucratic and slow to change. It became clear that new skills were needed to improve the ability of all parties to learn, listen, take responsibility, and find common ground necessary to build working relationships.
The Educational Director of the merged company asked us to conduct a SMART Conversations® pilot combining managers from both cultures. The pilot was a great success as both groups were able to engage in the conversations they needed to be having in order to figure out how they were going to be able to work together and do the business of the new corporate entity.
Word of the success of the pilot permeated the organization and we were asked to hit the road to deliver SMART Conversations® courses in multiple states and locations. This success led to the request by the Corporation that we develop a web-based version of the seminar so it could be offered throughout the organization with a minimum of travel and instructor dependence.