Clients / Case study

Brilliant conversations in high speed rail

Why do we avoid conversations that matter in the workplace?

Brilliant conversations in high speed rail

The brief

A leading high-speed rail manufacturer approached us with a project calling for our expertise in ‘brilliant conversations’, encouraging more effective dialogue between managers and their teams.

The organisation concerned was undergoing a phase of significant growth and change at all levels across multiple locations, and looking for help in facilitating a step change in behaviour to ensure their growth strategy was successful. In particular, they wanted to enable their HR and line managers to more effectively challenge behaviours and confidently coach others; communicating proactively, tackling difficult conversations and taking more ownership of development and performance into the future.

The challenges

Sandra Evans, our Managing Director, recalls: "With the HR community only recently operating a developed HR business partnering model, front-line managers were still relying heavily on HR for dealing with people issues. The key challenges therefore were to develop the HR team to enable them to feel confident in holding more effective conversations around performance, development and careers; and then to upskill front-line managers to take ownership of the development of talent and performance within their teams."

The solutions

Our programme was delivered across four dispersed UK sites and included upskilling the whole HR team and 250 line managers in both office and engineering functions. Through a series of short bitesize learning sessions, we focused on key discussions essential to a growing business: performance, coaching, career and difficult conversations. Using live simulation to bring learning to life, employees were able to practice real conversations in a safe and supporting environment. We provided digital resources to embed their learning, and trained the company’s HR team to deliver the full programme after our departure to ensure the changes were sustainable.

The results

We had very positive feedback from stakeholders regarding the difference our programme had made, including a comment on its impact within the engineering department which traditionally might have resisted this type of development.

Sandra concludes: “In time of positive change and growth, it is easy to think everything can take care of itself. On this project, we challenged people by making them take ownership of their learning. We certainly enjoyed working with this client who was open to new ideas and not afraid to push boundaries within learning and development.”

Phil Mardlin

Phil Mardlin

As lead facilitator on this project, it was great to see and hear how these short sessions allowed managers to take control of their own teaching and development. Through supporting managers to deliver the crucial conversations needed within the business, these sessions focused on developing their own presentation and delivery skills. At the same time, they were challenged to move their own practice on in terms of coaching and managing challenging and difficult conversations. Following the sessions, managers have told us how they are now feeling more confident in the delivery of sessions, and it is great to hear that they have developed in their own ability to manage challenging conversations.

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