Case Study

A World Leading Professional Services Organization

The Challenge 

This international professional services business was facing business challenges in the UK. Whereas other international offices had merged with another business, propelling the organization to be number 1 or 2 globally, the UK firm had not and remained at number 4 locally. New leadership was elected on a mandate to grow the business through a change in partner behaviors.

GP Strategies Solution

GP Strategies* designed and delivered a Partner Leadership Development process for all 400+ partners in the UK practice. This would be the first major, systematic piece of partner development that the organization had ever embarked on. The development process concentrated heavily on shifting the culture of the business. This, in turn, would lead to higher levels of client satisfaction and improvements in partner recruitment and retention, which would drive growth.

The learning journey started with each partner having a 1:1 interview with a GP Strategies facilitator to clarify their personal learning priorities. Partners then attended a Foundation Event in cohorts of 24. The event involved a mixture of plenary learning and small group coaching sessions, which enabled real shifts in behavior in the context of the business challenges for each partner. In the evenings at dinner, senior leaders from within the firm and major clients were invited to engage in a dialogue around the shift in culture needed to grow the firm. The learning groups continued to meet over a span of a few months, ensuring that the learning was taken back and embedded in the workplace, giving an opportunity for further coaching on significant issues.

Over the following months, participants also attended two 1.5-day specialist workshops, which they selected depending upon their personal development priorities. Workshop modules included Personal Leadership Capacity, High-Performing Teams and Client Relationships, and Transformational Coaching. Finally, four cohorts (96 partners) were invited to a Leadership Summit where they shared stories of their successes and built them into viral processes to continue the culture change needed in the firm.

Business Impact 

By the time it concluded, over 450 partners from the now integrated UK and Ireland practices had participated. GP Strategies was also asked to roll out similar programs to South Africa, Germany, and India as part of the move toward greater integration within the EMEIA region.

People Metrics: At the start of the program in 2006, the organization was ranked 12th in the Sunday Times 20 Best Big Companies to Work For. Improvement in this ranking was seen as a key recruitment objective. By 2007, the company had moved up to 4th place.

Internal metrics also reflected an improvement in morale, with the Global People Survey showing increases in trust (up 10 percent), living the firm’s values (up 4 percent), and retaining talented people (up 6 percent).

Fiscal Performance: Another key performance objective was closing the gap between the organization and the other Big 4. Again, this was achieved in 2009 when the organization found itself better prepared to weather the recession than its rivals.

Participant Satisfaction: Events were rated by participants on a variety of points as part of an ongoing quality control regime and consistently scored high (with an average rating of over 8/10).

At the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development conference held in September 2008, the head of partner development in the organization spoke about the program’s successes. He stated that the partners committing to the program was a success in itself as this had never been achieved before. Since the program has been running, feedback has been continually positive. He spoke about the real and sustained change that he has witnessed at a personal level and at a group (collective) level.

*The services described in this case study were performed by Bath Consultancy Group, now GP Strategies Corporation.

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