Team coaching in preparation for a managerial change

Assignment

To prepare for a change of CFO within the French subsidiary of a global German automobile parts manufacturer

Issues : Preparing for succession, Transforming the business
Services : Leadership Consulting

Context

  • The context for the team training was that of a managerial change: the retiring CFO had been a key member of staff in the subsidiary for many years and his successor was not yet known due to difficulties faced in recruiting a replacement, which had been ongoing for a year
  • This departure was causing significant concern among the employees, who had become accustomed to a specific style of management in their daily professional lives and were afraid of this change taking place
  • The retiring executive was himself worried about the potential effects on the team’s overall performance. He was concerned that talented men and women might leave the company due to fear of the unknown and, in particular, apprehension about a new management approach to which they might not be able to adapt
  • It was in this context that E&A proposed the provision of team training for all members of the administrative and financial management teams, the purpose being to present the change in a participatory way and define the person specification for the role in a consensual manner

Eurosearch & Associés involvement

  • E&A met the director concerned and introduced him to both the team-coaching approach and a qualified trainer capable of delivering it. The objective was to enable the director to develop a trust-based relationship with the trainer and establish a situation of friendly, constructive confrontation in order to stimulate ideas and encourage team cohesion
  • A precise schedule of the actions to be taken over a period of four months, consisting of both on- and off-site sessions, was also presented. Now reassured, the director wanted to get the process underway as quickly as possible
  • The process began with a presentation delivered by the team trainer to the heads of the Accounting, Purchasing and Management Auditing departments in the presence of the retiring director and a representative from the human resources management team
  • Five days of specific support involving all members of management were delivered over the four-month period
    • Two days off-site in a friendly, relaxed environment conducive to careful reflection and attended by the retiring director and his department heads
    • Three on-site days dedicated to each of the respective departments involved: Accounting, Purchasing and Management Auditing
  • After these five support days had taken place, all the employees were invited to a debriefing day consisting of a dinner followed by a collective working session, which was again held at a venue away from the company’s premises

Results

  • At the end of the process, both the retiring director—who would need to work alongside his successor for six to nine months to enable a gradual handover—and his team were more relaxed and at ease about the change.
  • The person specification for the successor, drawn up by the team and refined over the course of multiple sessions, precisely defined both the technical competences and managerial skills (soft skills) required of the new director
  • This person specification helped considerably to push the recruitment process forward, resulting, a few months later, in the selection of a candidate from the parent company in Germany about whom the directors and managers at the French subsidiary, from the department heads to the administrative and financial management team, were in unanimous agreement
  • The new director took up the post three months later. His induction was greatly facilitated by the welcome he received from the employees, who felt they had, to a certain extent, played a part in ‘choosing’ him