Magic Dust + Transformed Leadership

Magic Dust + Transformed Leadership at a Major Bank


Speed Read

Following a large re-organisation in a major bank, employees were underachieving, poorly motivated and felt badly managed. This threatened productivity, the quality of front-line service and, indeed, the bank’s bottom line.

To address this A+O’s leadership consultant delivered an outstanding cultural change programme. It was so transformational that Executives dubbed it ‘The Magic Dust Programme’. We positively influenced the behaviour of 2,000 front-line staff by running leadership workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions for just 40 managers. This improved the working environment and increased motivation, productivity and service levels.

"This programme enabled us to motivate our managers and so improve productivity and service levels. It was made possible by the ability to understand our needs, and then provide precisely the right person to meet those needs."
-Payments Director, Major Bank

Worryingly Poor  Motivation + Leadership

During one of our regular conversations the Director of Operations at a major bank expressed concern over the people aspects of a process improvement programme.

As part of a reorganisation programme, many middle and senior managers were moved from branches to central offices. Many were long serving employees yet they did not earn much more than their new younger peers. They felt they had become ‘small fish in a big pond’. As a result, some were poorly motivated. Their new colleagues perceived them as aggressive rather than constructive leaders.

An external study confirmed the problem. There was a worryingly low level of motivation and leadership. Many were underachieving. There were behaviour and attitude problems and many reported a stale work environment. 

The bank was concerned that these managers would become increasingly uninvolved and that motivation would fall even further. This had to be sorted - fast. A poor work culture like this threatened productivity and front-line service. The bank’s bottom line was at risk.

We saw an opportunity here to enhance the leadership skills of middle managers, helping the bank achieve its objectives and improve customer service levels.

This unique assignment required a unique, very experienced individual to lead it.

Ensuring Results + Fast

A+O prides itself on the intelligent partnerships it has developed with its customers. We aim to understand exactly what our clients are trying to achieve - even when the situation is complex, We worked closely with the bank to define a change programme that would solve this problem, quickly. The goal was to resolve the issues, creating a high energy environment where all staff achieved their objectives and offered better service to customers.

It was not that simple though. The bank was incredibly busy. They knew that a high profile culture-change programme would be regarded cynically and be swamped by other initiatives. So this was quite a challenge. How could we bring about a major positive change - in a low-key way?

A+O is even prouder of our hand-selected consultants. Our clients need experts who can confidently and quickly help them to achieve their goals.

Having helped to clarify the issues, understood the bank’s objectives and, together, agreed the right approach, we hand-picked the right person from our meticulously kept database.

We selected a psychologist with years of experience in leadership and Executive coaching within Financial Services who we knew well. Her expertise and cultural sensitivity made her the perfect match for this challenge.

Together with the Head of HR and the Head of Account Management, she designed and delivered a customised programme. It went far beyond the standard ‘packaged’ approach offered by HR consultants – and far exceeded the bank’s expectations.

How To Achieve Magical Results

Our expert worked directly with the relevant managers, using the following techniques:

  • A diagnostic phase with investigatory meetings, interviews and questionnaires to explore their experience of leadership development
  • Six group-based, personalised classroom sessions, covering leadership issues
  • 12 hour-long, one-to-one coaching sessions focussed on individual needs
  • An approach of ruthless compassion, both giving value for each participant and involving ‘difficult  conversations’ to facilitate growth and behavioural change
  • Setting objectives that met both individual and organisational needs
  • Problem solving to find ways both the managers and their teams could grow
  • ‘Goldfish bowl’ sessions where the participants talked openly with senior executives

“This was my most empowering experience in 20 years”
“I’ve regained my confidence”
“I have a reawakened interest in my job”
“I’m now able to confront things and accept new ideas”
“My team now know the real me”.

A+O’s senior client Directors regularly touched base with the client. We know how essential it is to ensure our clients’ aims are achieved.

Impressive Outcome

In a short space of time the buzz in Group Operations was that this programme was different – and rather special. The behaviour and attitudes of the participants changed dramatically, creating a far more positive environment, with high levels of motivation and customer service. The programme met, indeed exceeded, all the agreed objectives so effectively that, very soon, their people were doing better than before the bank’s reorganisation.

The bank was so happy with the results, they dubbed this ‘The Magic Dust Programme’. We were then asked to create a version of this initiative for other functions. Our consultant went on to personally coach several of the bank’s senior executives.