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Communication and Relationship Development

 

Overview:

The client, and inside/outside sales division of a large pharmaceutical company, came to Delta looking to "Improve Communication" within the division. The client had observed that customer service and satisfaction had dropped recently. The client was attributing this drop in effectiveness to an apparent lack of effective communication between sales and administrative staff within the division. They requested that Delta create a customized ONE DAY program and process to address these issues and create some positive change.

 

The Needs Assessment

Delta began a Needs Assessment and Analysis process with the client to uncover the true nature of the challenges that the sales division was facing around the issue of communication related to customer service. We initiated a series of assessment processes that took place over one week:

  • We conducted in-depth interviews with the Key Leaders in the sales team to assess their perspective on the situation.
  • We conducted a short series of one-on-one interviews with a small cross-section of the team members.
  • We distributed a Customized Team Effectiveness Survey with focus on Communication to all the team members and leaders.
  • We contacted and conducted brief interviews with 3 Key Clients of the Sales Team to assess their perspective on service from the division.

 

Designing The Solution

Once the assessment process was complete, the Delta Design Team got to work and organized the outcomes from the assessment into a solution strategy that was based on a bit of a unique finding from the assessment process: Communication was only PART of the challenge. It seems that there was a strong sense of competition within the division between sales individuals and between the inside and outside sales team. This competitive attitude 'trickled down' to the administrative staff, and resulted in a large sense that no one within the division "trusted anyone", resulting in individuals working hard to keep as much as possible to themselves to avoid what they perceived to be damage that could be caused by involving other team members. We came to understand that the team had allowed these concerns and perceptions to develop over a long period of time without addressing them, resulting in a 'domino effect' of accumulated attitudes and behaviours that swept through the entire division. Given that Delta would only have One Day to work directly with this group in the original program request, we concluded to wrap the program around four very clear and simple objectives:

  • Give the team members an opportunity to get to know each other better in a training environment that promoted cooperation, support and fun through working together.
  • Promote, through experience, the overall value of working together in a cooperative attitude to serve a common client.
  • Explore with the entire team the distorted perceptions of 'mis-trust' that have accumulated over the years, face the consequences of those perceptions directly, and seek to begin the development of new working relationships that are based on a willingness to trust the actions and intentions of others within the team.
  • Give the entire team the opportunity to develop a Team Code of Conduct that will outline the behaviours, actions, attitudes and beliefs that they are willing to commit to developing and demonstrating on a daily basis to ensure the smooth operation of the division and the increased level of service to the common customer.

 

The Solution

Delta developed and delivered to the team a One Day Experiential Training and Development program that focused on the primary objectives listed above. The program was a strong mix of discussion around Key Challenges, activities that promoted Team Cooperation and open debriefs from the activities that sought to identify challenges and remove them with Key Strategies for change in workplace behaviour. A key component of the program was a sequence of Trust Oriented Activities that culminated in the Aerial Trust Commitment Fall. From this activity sequence, team members began to really demonstrate their ability to give and receive trust with each other and the debrief sessions following the activities allowed the team members to outline some of the reasons they felt that trust was an issue in their Communication challenges. At the conclusion of the program the team was given ample time to develop a Team Code of Conduct that outlined their common commitment to changing their perceptions and behaviours in order to offer a greater level of service to their clients.

 

The Outcomes

At the conclusion of the program, the participants took the time to summarize the immediate outcomes of the experience. Additionally, Delta assessed the impact of the program through interviews with the leadership. Based on this immediate input, the program created a strong series of outcomes that could be immediately applied and implemented in the workplace.

  • Trust levels between participants were dramatically increased and all participants indicated a strong willingness to offer higher levels of trust in their teammates.
  • Participants indicated through their increased trust a strong willingness to pass on information, ideas and tasks related to the customer to each other in order to ensure a higher level of customer service.
  • Participants recognized the value of keeping the lines of communication within the division open, agreed that they would all be proactive in providing each other with information about customer needs and possible solutions.
  • Participants were excited about their Code of Conduct as it outlined a clear series of behaviours and actions they could live by to increase workplace harmony and customer service.
  • Clearly, the entire team was brought in to the concept of a 'common client', and the team's responsibility to share information, ides and tasks in order to ensure that the common client was always served to the highest level that the division, not the individuals, could offer.
  • Each participant returned to the workplace with a Personal Action Plan for how they were personally going to change their behaviour in order to contribute to this set of common goals and attitudes.

 

The Follow-Up Process

Delta created a follow-up process for the team to help support the implementation of the outcomes from the program. The follow-up process was implemented over a period of 60 days after the original program and included some key steps:

  • Delta returned to work with the team in a 1/2 day follow up program, 60 days after the original program. The follow-up program allowed the team to 're-energize' around the spirit and purpose of the original program. Team members explored how well they were implementing the outcomes from the original program and made some adjustments to their Personal Action Plans.
  • The Team examined their Code of Conduct point by point and made some very clear observations about what was working and what was not working. The Code was revised and a new commitment to live by the code was created by the entire team.
  • Delta re-administered the original Team Effectiveness Survey and the results showed a marked increase in the overall attitude, satisfaction and harmony within the team.
  • Delta re-visited the original customers who participated in the Needs Assessment process. The customers indicated they had observed an immediate and marked increase in the efficiency and value of the service they were being provided by the entire division.

 

The Result

After our final interviews and assessments with the client, the team members, the leaders and their customers it was very clear that this division had made a new leap into cooperative behaviour to serve the common client. There was better workplace harmony within the division and between team members, greater efficiency in the service of their customers, their internal customer satisfaction survey results showed significant increases and overall sales were actually up from the previous years numbers. Although this final observation of increased sales was not part of the original objective of the training process, both the leadership of the team and the team members indicated that they felt the division was more congruent, communicating more frequently and more effectively and the shared attitude to serve the common client was a strong contributor to their overall performance increase on all levels.