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Impact: A high intensity toolkit for managers

Sulzer is a global leader in fluid engineering and chemical processing applications with a commitment to innovation. Their solutions enable carbon emission reductions, development of polymers from biological sources, recycling of plastic waste and textiles, and efficient power storage. Headquartered in Winterthur, Switzerland since 1834, Sulzer now has a network of 180 world-class manufacturing facilities and service centres across the globe, employing more than 13,000 people.

Our client’s needs:

The company has set itself ambitious growth targets as part of its Sulzer 2028 corporate strategy, and at the same time embarked on a culture journey to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and collaboration across organisational borders.

Confident and consistent leadership at all levels was deemed crucial to realise the related commercial and people opportunities. Sulzer recognised the need for a global re-evaluation of how leadership is done, reviewing associated structures, processes, and systems.

It was considered essential to upskill line managers in some of the core leadership and management roles to build strength in the behaviours, skills, and mindsets required to accomplish the organisation’s strategic ambitions. They decided to begin with their largest population of managers who lead the front line of operations and central functions.

Our solution

Sulzer invited The Oxford Group to partner with them to create a global programme with the flexibility to deliver virtually and face-to-face, across different global regions and in local languages when needed.

From our own research (The Oxford Group, 2020) we know the importance of continuously improving fundamental management skills (coaching, delegation, and conflict resolution), adaptive and agile leadership and increased emotional intelligence. From this research our flagship front-line leader development programme, Impact, was born. It provides a unique blend of virtual learning experiences, designed to deliver a practical toolkit that empowers managers to maximise their performance.

Following a demo and launch with a cross-representative pilot group, Impact proved to be the solution Sulzer was looking for. The content, ease of implementation and method of delivery were key to their decision-making.

The Impact programme is structured around five key focus areas, each delivered by an experienced facilitator and supported by a curated content burst via our Learning Experience Platform (LXP) as well as live virtual HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions.

The five focus areas for the online learning and the live learning sessions are:

  • Management Essentials
  • Building Trust
  • Motivating People
  • Developing People
  • Preparing for the future

Participants were given full access to all focus areas right from the start of the programme, allowing them to explore and prioritise as suited to their needs. The live HIIT sessions follow the order above as a natural development flow. Each focus area also has an associated live learning group workout to take a deeper dive through experiential skills sessions.

The leaders have access to the platform for 12-months where social learning and engagement with the facilitator continues beyond the formal live learning sessions.

The outcome

There are now over 14 cohorts in progress with many more in the pipeline. Participants of the programme include leaders from China to South America and across Europe, delivered in the local language where needed. It provides Sulzer leaders the opportunity to learn and share across divisions and geographies, breaking down silos and taking the best from each other.

We conduct regular pulse surveys to gauge impact. A key question is to know how confident the participants are about applying learning back at work. On average, their score is 4.7 out of 5 in terms of how confident and able they are to put their learning into practice to make an impact.

Leaders have told us some of the key learnings include; the skills to adapt their management style to different situations and diverse preferences, the tools to build trust, the role of the leader in being a pro-active learner themselves, the power of setting clear goals from the outset and the importance of practising the fundamentals of listening, feedback, delegation and impactful communications to get the best out of individuals and teams. The power of learning together and focussing on the key levers to shift the dial on how leaders at Sulzer lead is key to the programme’s success. A deeper impact evaluation is planned in year two to gain more insight into the impact of Impact at Sulzer.

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