Mentoring leaders helps strengthen large organization
A large state social service agency, with more than 6,000 employees and an operating budget of $1.8 billion, was challenged to streamline its operations. The FY03 state budget crisis intensified the challenge presented to the agency and its leadership. These challenges created the need for deeper integration of programs and a greater need for staff members to partner with the larger community.
The Agency’s Secretary and her executive team believed that the capacity to be both strategic and facilitative were critical competencies for the agency as it continued to meet growing service needs with fewer dollars and people. Further, she and the team wanted to model this new leadership style.
The Secretary and her seven person executive team committed a year of their time to increase their strategic facilitation skills by working with TeamTech.
TeamTech, in partnership with the executive team, designed a one-year mentoring program aimed at enhancing the team’s and each individual’s strategic facilitation capacity. This mentoring program included:
- A kick-off retreat to introduce the benefits of strategic facilitation and think through how to integrate the team’s strategic plan with this new skill set.
- Eight content sessions that focused the team on:
- Strategic processes which enable people to hold the relationship between the task at hand and the big picture. A critical skill when working with multiple stakeholders.
- Facilitative/Reflective processes which perpetuate the act of thinking and taking action together. A critical skill when managing a tightening fiscal situation, staff reductions and vocal stakeholders.
- Monthly practicums for the executive team and individuals to apply newly acquired strategic, reflective and facilitative skills to upcoming meetings, decisions and problem-solving sessions. These practicums provided opportunity for:
- Detailed planning and preparation;
- Facilitation practice and coaching;
- On-site observations and direct feedback; and
- Feedback and professional development.
- A closing retreat to evaluate the year and project the future.
- The Agency Secretary as well as the seven member executive team finished the one-year training program.
- The leadership team has a working knowledge of the following four skills, which helped them learn to strategically manage the everyday crisis rather than the everyday crisis managing them.
- Big picture thinking so that all the dynamics at play in a problem can be identified and a strategic response developed.
- Being intentional about what people need to know and experience to make good decisions and achieve an outcome.
- Building shared vision so employees and stakeholders can see the practical next steps that need to be taken.
- Facilitating meetings that demonstrate effective communication and collaborations.
- As individuals and as a team they developed competencies in strategic, facilitative and reflective processes – “All critical to the continuous reshaping of our business in ways that increase the value to the public.”
“TeamTech was the best fit for this need because of Kathleen and Joel’s experience and credibility within the agency. Everybody on the team believed they could help us reposition the organization in a rapidly changing environment with growing demand for services and fewer resources.”