Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a research-driven biopharmaceutical group devoted to identifying, developing and marketing innovative products in reproductive and maternal health, urology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and orthopaedics.
Founded in 1950, Ferring now employs more than 6,500 people worldwide, has its own operating subsidiaries in nearly 60 countries and markets its products in 110 countries. Headquartered in Switzerland, they also have manufacturing facilities in several European countries, South America, China, India, Israel, and the US.
Our client’s needs:
Ferring launched their Leadership Principles in 2017, starting with the leadership team. They wanted to find a way to use an experiential approach to rollout and embed these values throughout the organisation. Having previously used 5 Conversations for a different programme, they felt that it was a really good fit for Ferring and would help to bring their Leadership Principles to life through everyday conversations.
The rollout of Ferring’s Leadership Principles and 5 Conversations has been spearheaded by the Technical Operations Division which asked The Oxford Group to train 18 internal trainers so they could deliver 5 Conversations across the division. They started by training the leadership teams on each manufacturing site and then moved on to deliver the programme to other people managers.
Ferring’s Leadership Principles are:
- Empowerment – we create leaders and intrapreneurs
- Innovation – we experiment and build our future
- Accountability – we own everything we do with courage
- Collaboration – we are in this together
- Transparency – we listen and share
- Purpose – we share one Mission, we are guided by the Ferring philosophy
- Performance – we achieve excellence
A strong example of how this rollout of the Leadership Principles programme worked for Ferring is at FSMP, Ferring’s Swiss Manufacturing Plant part of the Technical Operations Division.
Initially, we took their top 130 leaders for the whole Technical Operations Division through a 5 Conversations taster session, followed by a train-the-trainer session for those who would be responsible for rolling out the programme to the rest of the division. After that, it was over to them, although we were on hand to provide support and guidance.
This programme has had a lot of support from the FSMP leadership team and there was a very clear plan working top-down within the site, with a focus on getting engagement at each stage before moving on.
They started with a masterclass for the senior leadership team who were then tasked to start using 5 Conversations with their direct reports. 5 Conversations was introduced to the management team in a half-day workshop a few months later and the leadership team gave them each a copy of the 5 Conversations book to read.
5 Conversations was then introduced to the rest of the site as part of the Leadership Principles event, a big team-building day for 320 employees facilitated by managers who had been through the earlier workshop. It kicked off with a presentation from Leadership Principles ambassadors, followed by the site director who introduced 5 Conversations. Conversation 1 (Establishing a trusting relationship) was then used as an icebreaker.
Following this, participants were split into mixed teams for three different hour-long workshops on key themes chosen from findings in Ferring’s employee engagement survey – Trust, Communication and Who Does What. Each group had facilitators who stayed with them as they moved through the different activities, to observe, take notes and participate in the debrief. The facilitators were given a guide with questions for each workshop linked to emotions and behaviours that would help them facilitate the debriefs.
The organisers also created a booklet for participants which accompanied the day and gave them the opportunity to take notes for three reflective questions to go through after each workshop. The booklet also prompted them to track their emotions throughout the day. It was stressed that this was confidential to the participant so that they could be completely honest about themselves.
The day was then wrapped up with Conversation 3 (Showing genuine appreciation).
Having set the tone and expectations with all site employees, the management team then followed a month later with the full-day 5 Conversations masterclass.
Strong support from senior leadership combined with a phased introduction of 5 Conversations was the key to the success of this programme at FSMP. Giving time between each intervention to allow the learning to be embedded has really helped to create buy-in at every stage and throughout the site, driving the narrative around 5 Conversations and building a common language for all.
Managers were apprehensive in advance of the Leadership Principles event because it meant presenting themselves and delivering training in a different way to what they were used to. However, the tailored support and training they received in advance helped quell their nerves and, once it started, they really enjoyed the day.
Acting as facilitators was an excellent opportunity for the managers to apply what they had already learnt in their earlier 5 Conversations half-day workshop and this really brought the conversations to life for them. For example, using Conversation 1 allowed them to introduce themselves to their groups in a different way to what they are used to and employees immediately responded in kind, building different relationships.
Keeping emotions as a red thread throughout all activities had a powerful impact on engagement throughout the day. Also, introducing the topic of trust and the conversations early in the schedule really accelerated the pace of the day.
Feedback on the day was all really positive. 92% of participants recommended repeating the event across different divisions and 98% valued the chance to collaborate with participants across multiple departments.
The next steps for FSMP were to run full 5 Conversations masterclasses for all people and project managers at the site. This was accompanied by a communications campaign to keep 5 Conversations alive in everyone’s mind and build on the momentum that they have already created.
In the long-term, following-up with participants found that 80% of respondents had seen the changes they were hoping for in terms of trust and engagement in their key relationships and 89% of them would recommend the 5 Conversations programme to others. A ringing endorsement for the power of 5 Conversations and the way that they were used to bring Ferring’s Leadership Principles to life.
In their own words
Reflection on the workshops:
Introducing the 5 Conversations to all employees in our off-site workshop was so valuable and impactful. It helped create a common language and build the level of trust needed within the organisation to put our Ferring Leadership Principles into action.
Our facilitators were really involved and created a good atmosphere – they had great spirit and included even the shyest people without forcing them. They really made me want to participate.
The day was a good introduction to 5 Conversations. The themes were well illustrated. The workshops showed what was expected of each role and the activities motivated you to reflect and share with colleagues: it’s a challenge that makes you want to give the best of yourself…
5 Conversations has brought more trust and engagement between people by focusing on the human side of business, the real business fuel.
I would strongly recommend 5 Conversations. It’s a programme that enables you to reflect back on your inner-self and how you build and maintain relationships in your professional as well as personal life. It makes you understand how we were communicating and having dialogue up until now and how we can improve it further.
5 Conversations is a useful program that opened my eyes to different perspectives. It gives you a guide on how to deal with different situations; maybe I used to do it before but without really understanding or recognising it.