McChrystal Group partnered with the HR and Consulting divisions of a leading Professional Services company that was challenged in connecting its thousands of employees dispersed across the UK and globally. The company was expecting massive growth over the coming years—the Consulting division in particular was predicting growth of over 1,000 people annually—and needed to remedy its internal communications problems as soon as possible before they undermined their growth aspirations.
Part way through the engagement, the COVID pandemic resulted in office closures and the entire workforce moving to working from home conditions. Our work then became an essential part of maintaining communications between teams working in unprecedented and difficult circumstances.
The forum has worked well to bring the cohort together. Our engagement scores are markedly above the other departments and our team is better connected to business outcomes. The McChrystal workshops to design the forum were invaluable, producing great insights to the challenges faced by our people.”
Company lacked large-scale communications process
There was no process or structure in place to connect all team members. Even before the pandemic, communications were limited to local teams, posing significant challenges in disseminating information and collaborating meaningfully across teams.
A recent series of changes exacerbated the communications challenges
A number of changes—including redundancies, leadership changes and the introduction of a new Performance Management system—meant that individuals had withdrawn into siloes.
The COVID pandemic caused greater disruption
Several months into the engagement, the COVID pandemic forced all employees to work from home. Since the company had no processes or systems in place to allow for largescale, virtual communications, there was the potential for individuals to become completely isolated from their team members and the company leadership.
Assessing the challenges while connecting the teams
The McChrystal team carried out workshops, both in person and virtually, to bring teams together, learn about their challenges and collaboratively construct new communications systems that would solve for the specific challenges being faced by the HR and Consulting divisions. These workshops brought together departments and levels that didn’t habitually interact, allowing novel discussions and ideas to emerge.
Building a tailored communications system
We analysed workshop outputs to develop bespoke communication systems for the HR and Consulting divisions. This included creating an agenda that addressed the challenges they had identified, increasing their connection to the solution, and encouraging attendance and participation in the new approach. Individuals were identified for key roles and then training was delivered to ensure they were appropriately prepared to foster open, transparent discussions during meetings. The IT department was a crucial partner throughout, liaising closely with the McChrystal team so that the right technology was in place to support the communications systems we were designing.
Coaching the company to success
Once the communications systems were in place, the McChrystal team remained with the company to monitor meetings, identify potential areas of improvement, and coach individuals.
Teams were better able to connect
In the end of engagement survey, 92% of respondents said that they learned information now that they wouldn’t have learned before the new communications process was put in place and 60% of respondents said that they had connected with people they never would have met otherwise.
Senior leaders were better able to disseminate messaging
Employees no longer felt as isolated from leadership and felt more informed on the business context, company changes and performance management expectations that would help them thrive in their roles.
The divisions we worked with have been recognised by the rest of the company for their innovation
Following on from our work, the HR and Consulting divisions have been recognised company-wide for their innovative communications systems and how they have enhanced the operations of the divisions, particularly when it comes to performance management. Other divisions are now attempting to replicate the work and McChrystal is working with Company directors to co-write an internal paper on how to improve operations through communications.