Whirlpool

New middle management team empowered with training from Connor

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Summary

Challenge

  • Newly promoted team of business managers
  • Needed to enable them to lead teams and deal with senior stakeholders effectively
  • Wanted to empower business managers to handle issues without escalating

Solution

  • 6-month line manager development programme from Connor
  • Focus on leading self, leading teams, and leading within the organisation
  • Culminated in graduation ceremony in front of senior Whirlpool leadership to demonstrate new skills

Results

  • Business managers effectively leading and empowering their teams
  • Senior managers able to focus on strategy due to reduced escalations
  • Whirlpool keen to roll out programme to other business units

New structure, new team - same challenges

Every organisation restructures from time to time – and so when a restructure creates a new management level, the burning question is of course how to make sure those new managers are operating effectively as soon as possible. This was the situation Whirlpool found itself in. A restructure of the contact centre had created six new business manager roles – all of whom were promoted internally.

“The business managers had all previously been supervisors in the contact centre, so there was a big learning curve,” explains Lee Cumberland, Senior Operations Manager in Whirlpool’s UK and ROI contact centre. “On the one hand, we needed to ensure that the business managers stopped managing the business through their existing networks of agents and start empowering their teams of supervisors to lead effectively. On the other hand, the new team was understandably nervous about interacting with senior managers in the business – so we needed to enable them to thrive in that setting, too.

“Connor took the time to really understand what we wanted from the programme, and what the individuals wanted out of the programme for themselves.”Lee Cumberland, Senior Operations Manager, Whirlpool

Bespoke programme for a unique environment

Though middle management is nothing new in the world of business, we know that every organisation is different – meaning that the support new managers need to thrive in their roles is always unique. That’s what made Connor stand out to Lee when he was looking at training providers to support his new business managers. “It was clear from the very first meeting with Connor that they recognised the need for a bespoke programme, not something off-the-shelf.”

As is standard for Connor, before we initiated the training we met with the key stakeholders for the project and with the business managers themselves. “That impressed me,” reflects Lee. “Connor took the time to really understand what we wanted from the programme, and what the individuals wanted out of the programme for themselves.”

Because we understood the hopes and drivers of both the business and the individuals, we were able to create a programme that would truly engage the business managers, giving them and Whirlpool the very best ROI.

A training programme that evolves with the learner

“I can honestly say this is one of the best courses I have ever been on."Gareth Lemmon, Business Manager, Whirlpool

The course Connor built for Whirlpool’s business managers was centred around three pillars. Learners first focused on understanding their own leadership skills, their mindsets and their behaviours. From there, they worked on leading high-performing teams; understanding others and motivating them to perform. Finally, learners looked at apply those skills in the context of the wider organisation, developing resilient thinking and developing their personal brands to increase their influence.

On top of these modules, Connor provided team coaching sessions that enabled the group to work through their challenges together. “It was important to us not only that our managers were competent as individuals, but that they worked well as a team, supporting and challenging each other,” comments Lee.

The programme was well received with the delegates. Business manager Taylor Mumby said: “Before I went on the course, I didn’t know what to expect. But I loved it. I genuinely looked forward to time with the Connor facilitator, and it’s changed how I work massively. My colleagues and managers have noticed that I am learning and developing myself, and the people around me.”

A team greater than the sum of its parts

The programme culminated in a graduation ceremony after six months of hard work from all the business managers. “The ceremony was fantastic on a number of levels,” reflects Lee. “First, it was still a part of the training, in a way helped the business managers really believe that they had achieved something by engaging fully with the training. It also demonstrated clearly to the senior managers in the room that we now have a team of capable, confident business managers. And on top of that, it was just a really nice thing to do to celebrate the hard work of the team.”

"I loved it... It’s changed how I work massively. My colleagues and managers have noticed that I am learning and developing myself, and the people around me.”Taylor Mumby, Business Manager, Whirlpool

With the course complete, the business managers are now able to effectively lead their teams in the contact centre. Lee observed, “the speed with which we’ve been able to achieve the results we have wouldn’t have been possible without the programme. As far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely paid for itself.”

And although they are comfortable dealing with senior leaders, by supporting each other the business managers can handle a surprising amount of challenges and issues themselves. “The operations team above the business managers has been able to really focus on strategy planning without worrying about the day-to-day, confident that the business managers will only involve them in matters that really need their attention.”

A model for success

It’s plain that the programme has made an impression on the business managers. Gareth Lemmon said: “I can honestly say this is one of the best courses I have ever been on. We were asked to rate various aspects of the course out of five; I’d give the facilitator a 10 if I could!”

Now that Lee has proved the value of line manager development in the contact centre, he’s keen to take it to other areas of the business. "The flexible style of the programme, the fact that it’s bespoke and met our needs so well, means that I’d recommend Connor to other parts of the business.”

The delegates on the other hand are already relishing their new skills and putting what they’ve learned into practice.

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