CASE STUDY

Happy Healthy Leader Team Program

NATIONAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM

Case Study:

The Happy Healthy Leader Team Program

The challenge

Unexpected staff turnover (both voluntary and involuntary) was having a negative impact on the financial performance of a growing professional services practice. This organisation has approximately 100 employees, including eight partners. Staff members range from new graduates to individuals with more than 30 years of experience.

The organisation’s leaders believed issues influencing staff turnover included conflicts within the executive leadership team and problematic behaviours across all employees (such as conflict, crying, gossip and discussion avoidance in the workplace). There seemed to be a lack of awareness regarding the impact of such behaviours across all levels of the firm.

Solutions

A human resources leader at the professional services firm approached Margie Ireland to see if she could develop a program to address the issues being experienced. Following a preliminary assessment, where Margie identified key issues (called themes), a 12-month intervention program was implemented.

The preliminary assessment included:

  • an anonymous individual questionnaire using evidence-based practices.
  • a qualitative analysis observing individual and group interpersonal styles.
  • a behavioural analysis using a multi-rater feedback survey, which included identifying common cohort behaviours.

The purpose of the 12-month program Margie subsequently developed was to reduce burnout and unwanted staff turnover at the firm. The program began with educational workshops with all employees, followed by group intervention workshops and one-on-one coaching. Different psychology disciplines, evidence-based approaches, and communication styles were used to support each stage of the process.

View the program plan in the full case study here.

Results

The program’s strength, as reported back to Margie, were that most employees were recognising their own problematic behaviours sooner. This was thanks to the strategies introduced which focussed on spending less time on conflict and more time doing activities that increased financial performance. The leaders who engaged Margie originally noticed language learned from the Happy, Healthy Leader framework was being embedded into the office culture.

Other key short-term benefits from Margie’s program included:

  • Three valued employees who were otherwise wanting to leave the firm, stayed with the firm
  • Most employees became more self-aware about how negative self-talk can unhelpfully. influence their behaviour and performance as an individual, and as part of a team.
  • New language introduced to recognise feelings provided a way for people to share those feelings when they were stressed. This helped senior staff members intervene sooner which in turn increased trust.
  • Teams reportedly experienced faster conflict resolution processes, faster decision making and engaged in less gossip enabling them to focus on important tasks and goals.
  • Educating employees about multi-rater feedback systems resulted in more acceptance of receiving and acting on constructive feedback.
  • Management was able to recognise burnout was being experienced by up to a third of employees and intervention was needed.
  • Appointing a person as an internal coach across one-on-one coaching and group sessions meant Margie had background information regarding conflict between employees. The general manager believed this was advantageous in helping leaders improve staff relations sooner and a key reason why group work results improved, and why three employees were retained.

Key long-term benefits of the program:

  • A teams model (or matrix) was formulated and was proven to reduce voluntary staff turnover.
  • A feedback tool in the Happy, Healthy Leader Framework was a constructive way to support employee performance.
  • Another innovative framework was developed, which – once embedded – helped employees to become self-sufficient when working through stressful periods, either individually or in their teams. Under the framework, behaviours such as gossip was not acceptable – instead addressing issues directly became the new normal, positively influencing organisational performance. These factors potentially reduced involuntary staff turnover.
  • Employees were given the knowledge on how to identify and assess for early signs of stress in themselves and in others. That knowledge was underpinned with a culture that fostered trust amongst employees so that burnout is no longer reported.

As a result of the successful implementation of the Happy, Healthy Leader program, the firm decided to engage Margie for a second six-month term so that the learnings and frameworks from the first program could be successfully embedded into the organisation’s culture.

A few years later, in 2022

A few years have passed, and the firm is continuing to use Happy Healthy Leader Program strategies to keep the leadership team and employees on track.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, leaders have also had to navigate new ways of connecting with their direct reports and colleagues. This has required further changes not only in operations, but also in mindset. For example, having an adaptable mindset when it comes to peers and staff working from home, and trusting that work is being completed as it would, if they were in the office. Central to the Happy Healthy Leader program is the ability for Leaders to notice when they get fixated on something, that perhaps is a reaction, rather than a considered and mindful approach to an individual or issue.

The Happy Healthy Leader Program is continuing to help leaders overcome a sometimes-fixed mindset of how they formally led a team, instead bringing them towards a new and often more effective approach.

Margie Ireland is a registered Psychologist (MAPS, COPS), Leadership Coach, Workshop Facilitator, Speaker and Author. She helps leaders and their teams navigate stress and change with healthier coping strategies, leading to happier, healthier, and high-performing teams. For more information visit www.margieireland.com

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