KPMG

Featured Customer

Client Complexity Tackled through Greater Collaboration

The global professional services company, KPMG, turned to Core Strengths to help build a more collaborative culture needed to address greater client complexity. Integrating the Core Strengths program and tools in blended project teams and in leadership training has transformed collaboration among teams, sparked better decision making, and enabled team members to productively address conflict.

“We know that collaboration is going to be a key to our future viability and success as an organization. Core Strengths is proving to be a key element of our strategy for building that capability into our culture and DNA.”

The Challenge

KPMG faced an increasingly complex client environment and sought solutions to increase collaboration as a way to address the complexity. Kathy Hilyard, Partner, Advisory Services noted, “Our research tells us that collaboration is a critical issue when dealing with complex challenges if we are to bring our best people and collective solutions to our clients.”

As a result, the company embarked on a collaboration challenge while also bringing multidisciplinary teams including clients together to co-design solutions and strategies for change. In order to set these teams up for success, the company needed to equip them with the right tools to make collaborative efforts work to their advantage.

“As anyone who has ever worked in collaborative endeavours on complex problems will attest, it is challenging work and behaviours that promote individual efforts or agendas over the collective are sure to make it harder than it needs to be,” said Hilyard. “We need our people and our leaders to behave and think differently than they may have in the past or we will not realize our potential to support our clients in their complex challenges.”

Hilyard had used the Core Strengths methodology for over 15 years as part of another organization and was confident it would be the right tool for the challenges her firm faced.

The Core Strengths Solution

Core Strengths was first introduced at the global professional services firm to address issues around communication and conflict that were emerging on a client engagement where the consulting and client teams were working side-by-side. Kathy and her team facilitated Core Strengths: Results through Relationships workshops with the blended team to explore key relational issues and to gain alignment on new behaviors and norms that would help them focus and agree on how to operate moving forward. “These sessions were enormously helpful for the team,” noted Hilyard.

Based on its success, the program was expanded. “One of our senior leaders came to see me and suggested we could use this more broadly across our organization,” stated Hilyard.
As a result, they introduced the concepts and the results to leadership teams more broadly across the firm. In doing so, Core Strengths became a vehicle for assisting their most senior leadership teams to engage differently, lead collaborative efforts, and gain insight into their own effectiveness – especially around decision making under pressure. This effort continues to expand over time and fits within the context of their broader culture change agenda. “We will continue to expand this across our leadership cohorts and hope to use it more and more as teams are established as the mechanism for setting the foundations for collaboration,” commented Hilyard.

Moving forward, the company plans to roll out the Core Strengths: Results through Relationships training more broadly to specific purpose teams as a way to establish teams for complex service delivery programs.

Further, to accelerate the roll-out of the Core Strengths workshop, the company has certified 20 facilitators and plans to expand certification efforts over time to meet demand.

Benefit

The company saw immediate benefits due to greater awareness and understanding. “One of the major benefits is actually quite simple – awareness of our own and others’ motivations leads to greater understanding, rather than judgement, which in turn leads to more effective relationships,” noted Hilyard. As a result, greater collaboration has taken hold both internally and with blended delivery teams.

In addition, the language of Overdone Strengths has been useful in considering how leadership teams operate and how they can use relational strategies to improve the way they function; how to work effectively in short bursts where a team needs to come together to deliver an outcome, often under the pressure of deadlines and with complex issues to consider. “We have found that by exposing our leaders to this way of thinking, they are becoming better collaborators, they have a common language, they are more likely to be courageous and discuss behavioural challenges with colleagues, and they are thinking about how they relate and the impact that has on business decision-making and on our culture.”

Further, the company has seen signs that previously undiscussable conflicts are being addressed and relationships have been strengthened in the process. The program has provided aha moments for naturally competitive consultants as they suddenly uncover the long-simmering source of conflict. Hilyard likens it to a “circuit-breaker” that helps consultants reset and see how their “Red” or performance driven colleague, for example, is just trying to progress the agenda of the conversation.

Through multiple integration points, Core Strengths has become a strategic asset for the company overall. “We know that collaboration is going to be a key to our future viability and success as an organization,” noted Hilyard. “Core Strengths is proving to be a key element of our strategy for building that capability into our culture and DNA.”

About the Company:

KPMG is a global professional services firm providing audit, tax, and advisory services. It operates in 153 countries and territories and has 207,000 people working around the world.

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Walla Walla University

Featured Customer

Walla Walla University

Walla Walla University designed a college course to help students develop relationship skills that are critical for success after graduation. The 10-week course helped build greater understanding among students of other peoples’ motives and equipped them with a set of skills to communicate more effectively. Students raved about the course and applied the lessons long after its completion.

“The Psychology of Motivation” was well received immediately by students given its practical nature. One student commented, “It was the best course I have taken at Walla Walla University” and another noted, “It was the most practical course I have ever taken.”

The Challenge

Colleges today are struggling to provide the skills that students will need when they enter the workforce, according to Dr. Peter Gleason, Associate Professor of Psychology at Walla Walla University. “Work culture is becoming more collaborative and we don’t do enough to teach skills around collaboration,” said Dr. Gleason.

At the same time, students are yearning for practical lessons that can be used after graduating to bolster the lessons taught in standard college courses. “Now we are faced with a challenge, ‘Are we really giving students the skills they need?’” said Dr. Gleason.

As a certified Core Strengths facilitator, Dr. Gleason has a trove of experience in introducing the Strengths Deployment Inventory 2.0 (SDI) to organizations across the globe. Given this, he wanted to bring the same experiences he provides to corporate clients via Core Strengths workshops to a university setting so that students could be equipped with the tools and insight to improve communications, collaborate more effectively, and reduce conflict. “As both a facilitator and faculty, I see both sides,” noted Dr. Gleason.

“I see the skills that employees need to have so therefore I have a sensitivity to the skills students are not getting in college,” he continued. “The challenge before me was, ‘How can I bring these same employee skills to our students so that college would be relevant again and students would go out of here with the skills that companies want them to have.’”

The Core Strengths Answer

In 2018, Dr. Gleason and Walla Walla University offered the “The Psychology of Motivation” course for the first time as an elective for undergraduate students. The 10-week course was an adapted version of the full-day SDI workshop.

The course was designed to use the same flow as the standard workshop, but expanded the learning moments and conversations over 10 weeks. This allows students the time to slow down, absorb the content gradually and have a series of conversations over time. Revisiting the content for 1-hour daily, day-after-day, helped increase the learning and application of SDI tools and methods.

To enhance the course, Dr. Gleason innovated new exercises such as one to help in trying to diagnose a person’s motive through an interview and in-person interactions. Walla Walla University’s President was invited in to participate, and the students diagnosed what they thought his motive was based on the interview. From the interview, the class built a communications strategy for how to communicate and work with him in the most effective manner. Later, students were shown his actual motive based on the results of the SDI 2.0 assessment and the class discussed who was right, who was wrong, and why. The rich discussion gave them a set of practical tools to help diagnose a person’s motive that could be applied to people outside of the course.

Dr. Gleason also plans to integrate the SDI 2.0 into his General Psychology course in the Fall of 2019. In doing so, all students attending Walla Walla University will take the SDI 2.0 and learn a powerful set of tools to improve interactions and to make them more productive while in college and in the workforce upon graduation.

The buzz created by the course has led other professors to ask about using the SDI 2.0 in their classes. To address the increasing demand for the SDI 2.0, Walla Walla University plans to hold a train-the-trainer certification session so that additional instructors can become certified to use the SDI 2.0 in other areas including business and religion classes.

Benefits

“The Psychology of Motivation” was well received immediately by students given its practical nature. One student commented, “It was the best course I have taken at Walla Walla University” and another noted, “It was the most practical course I have ever taken.”

Over the course of 10 weeks, students learned to communicate more effectively and to both recognize and deal with conflict more efficiently. The course also proved to be sticky in that students continued to talk about their results and how they use them in their decision-making long after the class ended. The content proved to be relevant outside of the psychology department as the business department cross-listed the class as a business course. Ultimately, students walked out of the course with an actual suite of skills that could be applied on the first day on the job after graduation. Dr. Gleason concluded, “My hope is that it becomes core curriculum for colleges. It will make school relevant again and help support our students.”

Dr. Gleason launched a survey in 2019 to measure the adoption of the SDI 2.0 insights and tools. In fact, students showed significant improvement across all 9 dimensions evaluated including improvement in “understanding the motives and intentions of other people”, “recognizing behavior on others that indicate conflict”, and “communicating and behaving during conflict in ways that will achieve productive results.”

About the Company:

Walla Walla University is a private university, which was founded in 1892, based in College Place, Washington. In addition to its headquarters, the university operates four satellite campuses, including a School of Nursing in Portland, Oregon, a marine biology station near Anacortes, Washington, and School of Social Work and Sociology campuses in Missoula and Billings, Montana. The university offers more than 100 areas of study in professional and technical programs as well as the liberal arts.

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CO-OP Financial Services

Featured Customer

Core Strengths Helps CO-OP Financial Services Boost Employee Performance

CO-Op Financial Services introduced Core Strengths as part of its training program in 2014 in order to help boost the performance, productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency of its employees. Since its introduction, employees from every department have completed the training resulting in greater team effectiveness and higher employee engagement.

“By getting people into these workshops earlier in their tenure, it really does help the manager of that person have a better picture of their employees’ motivations and strengths.”

The Challenge

CO-OP Financial Services, which has 9 offices across the United States, helps credit unions leverage the latest technology and insights to strengthen member connections and propel growth. In 2018, its credit union members completed 7.1 billion transactions. In order to continue to achieve its goals, CO-OP is focused on performance, productivity, effectiveness and efficiency.

In the middle of 2014, CO-OP started exploring Core Strengths as a professional development course to help address its goals.

“We really didn’t have a formal training program when I started,” said Dave Ragan, Manager, Talent Development. Ragan and his team went about building a robust program that included Core Strengths as a key component of it. As a result, “It rounded out our course structure nicely,” Ragan commented.

The Core Strengths Solution

At the outset, Core Strengths’ program was delivered to CO-OP’s Client Services team. CO-OP expanded access to the program more broadly and included employees at all levels and across functions. “It is offered to all employees, including our executive team,” said Ragan. Both new and existing employees are invited to experience the course. “By getting people into these workshops earlier in their tenure, it really does help the manager of that person have a better picture of their employees’ motivations and strengths,” said Ragan.

Over the last few years, more than 700 employees across all departments, including marketing, IT, HR and Client Services have completed the Core Strengths training.

Benefit

Since its inception, Core Strengths: Results through Relationships has been very popular inside CO-OP. The course has been lauded for its ability to help team members improve self-awareness and support the teams’ ability to work together. “The primary goal is to provide our leaders with as clear of a picture as we can of who our employees are,” notes Ragan.

In addition, with the inevitable changes in staff, the Core Strengths program and tools help the team grow and evolve. “When we do get new managers, we try to do our best to provide that new snapshot of what their team’s MVS, Conflict Sequence and strengths are as soon as possible,” said Ragan. “Managers often say ‘Hey I am just taking on a new team. Can I get a new team profile, so I can take a look at it?’” adds Ragan.

Participants in the program also directly benefit. “We get a lot of positive feedback around ‘You really are investing in my development’,” added Ragan. Finally, Ragan notes that people who have completed the course are more engaged in general at work and in their relationships with their teams.

About the Company:

CO-OP Financial Services is a payments and financial technology company based in Rancho Cucamonga, CA whose mission is ensuring the success of the credit union movement. CO-OP payments solutions, engagement services and strategic counsel help credit unions optimize member experiences to consistently provide seamless, personalized multi-channel offerings, while delivering secure, sophisticated fraud mitigation service.

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Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental

Featured Customer

Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Case Study

Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) launched a Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI)-centric training program to improve its culture while offering a powerful tool to engage and retain employees. The training has been rolled out across the entire 7,000 person organization resulting in a seismic culture shift with higher employee satisfaction and even an impact on attrition.

“I had a job offer somewhere else, but when I asked them if they used the SDI and they said they didn’t, it made me realize I wanted to stay here.”

The Challenge

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) was facing many of the common challenges experienced by other statewide agencies around the country. Bureaucracy had led to numerous workforce issues including significant turnover and resource shortages. In addition, there was little that it could do to reward high performing employees given the tight budget limited the ability to provide raises or bonuses. Further, employees would simply avoid conflict at all costs given the lack of incentives or market pressure to perform.

In search of a solution, Judy Fitzgerald, DBHDD’s Commissioner, led a broad-based initiative to bring in the Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI) given the impact she had seen from its use with the executive leadership team and its potential to shift DBHDD’s work culture.

The Core Strengths Answer

DBHDD first deployed the SDI in a training program with the organization’s most senior leaders. Despite the long-standing relationships among the executive team, the SDI shifted the way they worked together as they were equipped with a new understanding of what drives each leader.

Based on its early success, Fitzgerald decided to expand the training to include additional leaders. The response was similarly positive and the leaders also wanted to include their teams in the training to improve their interactions.

Fitzgerald made it her goal to roll out the SDI to the entire agency given its past success and potential to resolve many of DBHDD’s workforce issues. She wanted to give every employee regardless of education level, title, or duration at the agency the opportunity to go through the day-long SDI workshop. Fitzgerald and the DBHDD leadership team’s point of view are that “Healthy relationships do really make for a healthier culture.”

To support the roll-out of the program to all DBHDD locations, DBHDD staff went through a train-the-trainer certification program and now have 45 certified facilitators across the organization. In the last 2 years alone, over 3,200 employees have attended at least one of the 243 SDI workshops. Lavin Briggs, the Assistant Commissioner leading this training initiative, is now working to become a Core Strengths Master Facilitator so that she can continue adding facilitators to her team with even greater efficiency.

In addition, DBHDD has infused the SDI into many aspects of its culture. DBHDD provides ample opportunities for people to not only go through the workshops but to further their learning and actually implement the SDI in their daily lives. Each employee mounts their SDI results on their door or desk and most meetings start with an SDI-related exercise. Also, employees’ badges include their individual motive, conflict sequence, and top 3 strengths to foster greater understanding on a day-to-day basis. Further, DBHDD hosts two to three “lunch and learns” per month to provide a deep dive into applying the SDI as well as to increase awareness of the tool internally.

Benefits

DBHDD has seen numerous benefits since implementing the SDI across the organization. Overall, the culture has improved by fostering greater mutual understanding and by providing a common language that can be used in a non-judgmental and non-threatening way. The SDI has also supported better decision making through the increased ability to understand and incorporate multiple perspectives on a topic. Further, workers at all levels feel appreciated given the opportunity to take the training, leading to higher employee satisfaction. It has also played a role in tamping down attrition. One employee who was actively recruited to join another organization noted, “I had a job offer somewhere else, but when I asked them if they used the SDI and they said they didn’t, it made me realize I wanted to stay here.”

About the Company:

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is a statewide agency in Georgia that serves people with mental health challenges, addiction struggles, and developmental disabilities. DBHDD has a $1.2 billion annual budget, operates 5 hospitals, and has more than 600 contract providers and approximately 5,000 employees.
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Amazon

Featured Customer

Amazon Uses the SDI 2.0 to Develop the Team Responsible for Securing its Global Assets

Amazon Global Security Operations has integrated the SDI 2.0 in multiple ways as part of its ongoing learning and development training. The SDI 2.0 is used as part of onboarding programs, one-on-one executive coaching, team development activities for intact teams, and new manager assimilation.

Amazon plans on expanding the use of the SDI 2.0 within its training and development programs given its proven ability to improve communication and reduce conflict.

The Challenge

Amazon Global Security Operations team members face the critical task of protecting the safety and security of employees, vendors, visitors, and assets at Amazon customer fulfillment centers, customer service centers, and transportation centers across the globe. In their roles, team members are regularly immersed in high-stakes situations requiring sharp decision-making skills, the ability to quickly and efficiently mitigate risks, and rapidly resolve key issues. Doing so relies on effective communication among team members and defusing conflict before it takes hold.

In order to address the challenges his organization faced, Matt Dawson, Worldwide Talent Development Manager, Global Security Operations for Amazon, looked for mechanisms to employ that provide a baseline assessment of each team member to support developmental conversations. “Part of my work is about making people aware of their own behaviors, of their own mindsets and then driving additional insights around those things through dialog, conversations both one-on-one and in groups, and in 360-type mechanisms,” commented Dawson.

Dawson originally learned about Core Strengths and the Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI) during his academic experience and was confident it could address the key challenges Amazon Global Security Operations was facing.

The Core Strengths Solution

Amazon Global Security Operations initially introduced the SDI by piloting it within the organization to first prove its value, to create buzz among people who have taken the course, and to see how it resonated with participants before moving to scale. Once it was proven to be successful, Dawson and his team started deploying the SDI 2.0 in mixed methods across the organization.

One of the areas where the SDI 2.0 was deployed was the onboarding program for the general associate population. Integrating the SDI 2.0 helped create awareness among participants of their own strengths and motives as well as those of the people with whom they work closely.

Dawson and his team have also used the SDI 2.0 to enable more effective one-on-one executive coaching, to support team development exercises for intact teams, and to help assimilate new managers into the organization.

Benefit

Amazon has achieved some early gains from the use of the SDI 2.0 in its training and development programs. Specifically, Dawson and his team have observed first hand how the tools have fostered healthier conversations among team members. Demand for the program has also been strong among employees as well as a desire to have leaders take the SDI 2.0 assessment to enable stronger relationships between direct reports and their managers.

Amazon plans on expanding the use of the SDI 2.0 within its training and development programs given its proven ability to improve communication and reduce conflict.

About the Company:

Amazon.com, Inc., is a global e-commerce and cloud computing company based in Seattle, Washington. Its focus is on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence enabled products. Amazon Global Security Operations is a division within the parent company which protects the safety and security of employees, vendors, visitors, and assets at Amazon customer fulfillment centers, customer service centers, and transportation centers across the globe.

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iHeart Media Inc.

Featured Customer

iHeart Media Ramps up Collaboration to Ensure the Success of its Marketing Promotions

iHeart Media focused on collaboration among team members as the key to unlock greater efficacy of its promotions. By completing the Core Strengths: Results through Relationships workshop, promotions team members gained insight and a new set of skills to collaborate more effectively with colleagues as well as increase the productivity of their direct reports.

“I now know not to get offended if my colleague doesn’t provide an emotional response as I understand that her primary motivation is achieving results and getting the job done.”

The Challenge

iHeart Media is a leading media company in the United States and puts on a large number of in person events and promotions across the country each year. Summer is the busiest time of year for the promotions team as they have back-to-back promotional events with demanding timelines and require working effectively with a wide array of styles.

iHeartMedia’s VP of Marketing sought help in increasing the efficacy of iHeart Media campaigns by helping employees learn how to work collaboratively with different personalities through greater understanding and by leveraging individual and team strengths. Specifically, iHeart Media Promotions Directors, each of whom has a team of 20 or more Promotions Assistants, were identified as the key inoculation point for the desired change.

The Core Strengths Solution

iHeart Media Promotions Directors completed the 1-day Results through Relationships workshop and immediately saw the potential and applicability to their roles as well as to the broader organization. Given the success of the workshop, Delilah Cruz, one of the Promotions Directors who experienced the Core Strengths training, recommended that iHeart Media integrate Core Strengths more broadly across the organization.

Benefit

iHeart Media team members gained immediate and tangible benefits from attending the training. First and foremost, the workshop enabled participants to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the differences among teammates. As Cruz noted, “Just because someone has different beliefs and perspectives, that doesn’t mean a successful working relationship can’t form.” In fact, the opposite is true. As Cruz said, the workshop teaches people that “working with those who are different from you is a huge asset if you can understand their drivers and motivations.” Further, participants realized that even though fellow colleagues hold the same position, their motives and strengths drive their perceptions, work style, and communications preferences. “I now know not to get offended if my colleague doesn’t provide an emotional response as I understand that her primary motivation is achieving results and getting the job done,” noted Cruz. In addition to greater understanding, participants applied the learning directly to how they delegate tasks to direct reports in a way that helps them be more successful. Cruz explained, “My managers and I can now assign tasks that best utilize colleagues’ strengths while building upon their weaknesses.” In fact, her manager applies her knowledge of Cruz as “People centric” to assign tasks that allow her to be on the front lines interacting with people. On the other hand, her manager delegates tasks to her “Process centric” colleague that are more process oriented. Doing so plays to their individual motives and strengths while ensuring greater productivity, higher levels of engagement, and a more efficient work environment.

About the Company:

iHeartMedia is a leading global media and entertainment company specializing in radio, digital, mobile, social, live events and on-demand entertainment. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, the company operates 848 live broadcast stations and its iHeartRadio digital service is available across more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices. iHeart Media reaches nine out of ten Americans every month.
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Xylem

Featured Customer

Xylem Uses the SDI to Help Adapt to Change

A leading water technology has committed to the Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI) as a key lever to help during times of change. From team development to high potential programs and front-line manager training, the SDI is a key component of Xylem’s internal talent development offering.

“It’s the best tool I know of that will help us take a look at better understanding what is happening, give us a language to talk about it, and suggest some alternative behaviors.”

Charles Cook

Learning and Development Manager at Xylem

The Challenge

Xylem, a leading global water technology company, dedicates development effort on its managers as a way to drive change throughout the organization.

“During times of change, most of the challenges that you have aren’t associated with the change,” said Charles Cook, Learning and Development Manager at Xylem. “They are associated with how people are receiving the change message, and how they are delivering it to others. We want to better prepare managers in the middle of the organization for that challenge.”

Xylem introduced the SDI into the organization in 2012 to help address some of the challenges it was facing around change. Since then, the SDI has been helpful in directly addressing these challenges through greater understanding of individual and team motives and by improving communication.

“The SDI is one of the best tools I know for helping people understand differences within and between teams, and for seeing the potential for conflict resolution,” said Cook. In addition, Cook explained that the SDI helps people realize that many issues result from perception as opposed to an actual problem with a particular team member.

The Core Strengths Solution

Xylem initially used the SDI to develop its teams and in high-potential development programs in Europe and the Americas. The high potential program in particular focuses on technical skills, but also uses the SDI to emphasize motives and behaviors that drive success. “What we are trying to do with our high potential program is to get that across,” noted Cook. “Making choices about the best way to bring yourself is more effective than ‘That’s the way I am, take it or leave it.’”

In 2017, Xylem launched the “Manager as Change Leader” course, which uses the SDI as a core component, for its 3,000 front-line managers. To date, over 750 front-line managers have completed the training. Managers who have experienced the course often ask, “Can I bring this to my team?” stated Cook. “It’s not coming down from up high. It’s really a tool that works and because it works when managers experience it, they say, ‘I’d like to bring this to my team as well.’”

In 2018, Xylem expanded the use of the SDI by delivering team SDI sessions virtually – a remote facilitator partnering with a local manager who has already experienced the SDI. Virtual sessions reduce travel costs making the content that much more valuable globally.

Benefit

Xylem has received several tangible benefits by using the SDI as part of its training and development efforts. First, it enables greater understanding. “I’ve been in a location where we had 15 languages spoken in the same building,” said Cook. “How do you get people to connect with folks when language is not the big connector? Personality can be a big part of it.”

Second, the SDI facilitates better conversations and interactions. As Cook said, participants who go through the training typically say, “This better explains some of the challenges we have had within the team and at least we are able to talk about it now.”

Further, the SDI supports manager development through better coaching conversations. “I am helping managers not only have a better conversation but I am helping them point to how can they get people to think back about ‘I am simply dialing back something I am already doing’,” noted Cook. In addition, “It’s not just coaching, not just having a nice conversation, but there is a practical element to this in terms of how we may be unconsciously treating others because of our preferences.”

With ongoing success, the SDI continues to expand throughout the Xylem organization. “There’s only one reason that I recommend the SDI,” said Cook. 

“It’s the best tool I know of that will help us take a look at better understanding what is happening, give us a language to talk about it, and suggest some alternative behaviors.”

About the Company:

Xylem is a leading water technology company committed to “solving water” by creating innovative and smart technology solutions to meet the world’s water, wastewater, and energy needs.

In a world of ever-growing challenges, Xylem delivers innovative water technology solutions throughout the cycle of water. From collection and distribution to reuse and return to nature, its highly efficient water technologies, industrial pumps and application solutions not only use less energy and reduce life-cycle costs, but also promote sustainability.

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UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte Teams Learn to Harness Diversity to Create High-Performing Teams

University of North Carolina Charlotte introduced Core Strengths training to help teams resolve conflict resulting from greater diversity and to improve team performance. The training provided teams with tools and insight to turn conflict into productive opposition and to help bring all of the diverse voices to the table. The result was lower conflict and the creation of high-performing teams.

“They thought they were doing great with customer service, when they had an aha moment of ‘We are one dimensional and weren’t looking at the process.’ The tool allows you to look at the diversity of a team.”

Alyson Ebaugh

Head of Learning and Organizational Development at UNC Charlotte

The Challenge

Universities, like the workplace in general, have experienced an increase in conflict due to greater generational, race, background, and geographic related diversity in conjunction with an underdeveloped set of relationship skills. “People aren’t taught how to relate to each other and soft skills are hard,” said Alyson Ebaugh, Head of Learning and Organizational Development at UNC Charlotte.

The human resources team at UNC Charlotte sought a solution to reduce conflict while igniting team performance. Ebaugh was quickly impressed with the Core Strengths approach. “I saw potential in the tool right away,” she said in recalling her experience taking the assessment and completing the debrief onsite at an ATD event.

The Core Strengths Answer

UNC Charlotte first launched Core Strengths: Results through Relationships training within the University Advancement team and it took hold quickly. “There is just so much applicability to this tool,” said Ebaugh. “It’s excellent for leadership development, diversity and inclusion, emotional intelligence, and difficult conversations.”

UNC Charlotte now has three on-demand Core Strengths courses and has opened up enrollment to teams on campus seeking to improve team performance through lower conflict and by ensuring all perspectives on issues are heard. Demand for the program has spread via word of mouth and continues to gain traction. “People are talking about it because it’s so practical,” Ebaugh commented.

Benefits

The Core Strengths training quickly helped improve team performance by helping team members understand and appreciate the diversity and makeup of intact teams. “I was facilitating Core Strengths for a group on campus that was mostly blues (People-oriented),” said Ebaugh. “They thought they were doing great with customer service when they had an aha moment of ‘We are one dimensional and weren’t looking at the process.’ The tool allows you to look at the diversity of a team.”

The program has also helped uncover and resolve root problems within teams. “I had a manager call me and say, ‘I am at my wits end. My team is so dysfunctional, what do I do?’,” said Ebaugh. “She brought her whole team and she did have some difficult people. But, what we learned was that her people were difficult because she wasn’t playing to their strengths. She thought it was a performance issue, but it was a leadership issue.”

Finally, the training also connects to other programs offered at UNC Charlotte such as diversity and inclusion and emotional intelligence training. “It naturally complements other big programs that we are doing like leadership development, diversity and inclusion, team building, and self-awareness,” noted Ebaugh. “It’s multi-dimensional and allows you to dig deep. Other tools are one tool for one solution. It’s also more useful than other tools. You can do something with it.”

About the Company:

UNC Charlotte is a public research-centric university based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The University is made up of seven professional colleges and offers 18 doctoral programs, 62 master’s degree programs, and 90 bachelor’s degrees. UNC Charlotte employs more than 1,000 full-time faculty and 2017 enrollment exceeded 29,000 students.

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Tableau

tableau

Featured Customer

Tableau

High-performing people can fall into the trap of applying the same preferred strength to solve every problem. Learning to choose a different approach—with their core motives intact—made all the difference for leaders and teams at Tableau.
“The strengths-based approach around core motivations and an unlimited approach where everybody is capable of anything was really the approach that our organization was ripe to embrace”

Andrew Pottenger

Training Manager

The Challenge

Tableau, a leading software company to help organizations change the way they use data, depends on collaboration to achieve its vision and corporate objectives. Collaboration to create a winning culture, to build world-class products, and to ensure the delivery of a great customer experience. In talking to business leaders across the company, human resources business partners found that there were issues arising related to collaboration. Miscommunication among team members was occurring, teams were driving toward consensus in place of collaboration, and decisions were not being made quickly and efficiently. To help address these issues and drive improved collaboration, Tableau’s HR leaders sought a solution to improve relationships within teams and across the organization. A key part of the solution was the fit with Tableau’s corporate values such as “We Work as a Team”, “We are Honest”, and “We Respect Each Other.” Tableau considered a range of solutions such as MBTI, DISC, CliftonStrengths, and Core Strengths to find a solution that would address the issues at hand and fit with their current culture. Ultimately, Core Strengths was selected due to its efficacy and fit with the Tableau organization.

The Core Strengths Solution

Tableau engaged Core Strengths to introduce its relationship-centric training course. The approach fit well with Tableau’s culture and was well received early on. “The strengths-based approach around core motivations and an unlimited approach where everybody is capable of anything was really the approach that our organization was ripe to embrace,” said Andrew Pottenger, Tableau Training Manager.

Over the next few years, Tableau expanded the exposure of its teams to the Core Strengths training program. To maximize its impact, HR business partners worked with senior leaders to find teams that needed a relationship tune up. Over time, it was offered to any team that wanted to take the assessment and benefit from improved communication and a reduction in conflict. In the last year alone, ninety percent of the marketing organization went through the Core Strengths training. To date, over a quarter of the company has taken the training.

In addition to the formal training courses, leaders and managers use the techniques taught in the training informally during team meetings and offsites. “I have done a condensed version of the class at an offsite and included the ‘How I See It’ activity’,” said Andrew Pottenger. “It’s the activity piece with the core knowledge that you can use as a focused exercise to create engagement around problems that are popping up.” It has become part of the Tableau lexicon and is used as a powerful communication and collaboration tool across the organization

“It’s the activity piece with the core knowledge that you can use as a focused exercise to create engagement around problems that are popping up.”

Benefit

Core Strengths training has been instrumental in improving communication at Tableau. “Tableau is an organization of high performers and people tend to keep doing what has gotten them to where they are,” commented Andrew Pottenger. “It really improved the need to speak to the communications needs of everyone and not just what the person prefers.” Another benefit is the impact on decision-making. As project teams make decisions, the language of the SDI shows up as a way to facilitate decision-making. Specifically, it supports the change management part of decision-making by helping create a pathway to move forward in a manner that meets everyone’s needs. Further, the Core Strengths training in coordination with complementary efforts have helped increase managers 360 feedback in particular around how managers develop their direct reports. In addition, retention has improved during the time that Tableau introduced and expanded its use of the Core Strengths training.

About the Company:

Tableau Software is an interactive data visualization software company founded in January, 2003 by Christian Chabot, Pat Hanrahan and Chris Stolte, in Mountain View, California. The company is currently headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States focused on business intelligence.

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When relationships work, there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved.

Gattaca

Featured Customer

Gattaca

Gattaca rolled out the Core Strengths: Results through Relationships training to enhance its team-based approach to help increase collaboration as well as drive greater employee and client engagement. The training was focused on 2 key areas, the employee journey and the client brand journey, and helped participants to collaborate more effectively with internal team members and also build relationships with their candidates and clients.

Gattaca

“The great thing about it is that we can apply the learning in so many different contexts. Not only does it help us with our internal teams, it also helps us become an extension of our clients’ teams. The tool helps us see things through other peoples’ filters, and that inevitably gives us better outcomes.”

Jennie Mead

Group HR Director, Gattaca

The Challenge

At its core, Gattaca is a relationship company that puts relationships between co-workers, within teams, and with clients first. Individuals come together as teams, teams come together as divisions and divisions come together as the Gattaca brand. Its people are its most important asset, and Gattaca is committed to investing to make their employees more productive and better at building relationships.

A recent pulse of Gattaca’s global culture showed that they were a client focused business with a team-based approach. As a result of the research, Gattaca concluded that they wanted to go even further in the direction of enhancing its team-based and client-centric focus. To do so, they needed a training solution that encapsulated and built upon their goal of collaborating to be competitive and was focused on 2 key areas – the employee and client brand journey. In addition, Gattaca wanted to adopt a learning program that embraced the diversity of the organization.

The Core Strengths Answer

Gattaca engaged Core Strengths who they knew were the experts in Relationship Intelligence and building highly effective and engaged teams. Core Strengths worked with Gattaca to train its Learning & Development personnel to deliver global training to improve self awareness as well as increase awareness of colleagues and clients.

The Results through Relationships training workshop started with the learner completing the SDI 2.0 assessment to create awareness of motives and behaviors. The results provided the learner with a deep understanding of why they do what they do and how they choose behaviors to get the results they need.

The training worked on a dual level for Gattaca to create an understanding of how individual behaviors impact others:

  • Employer Brand – How to build relationships with each other to improve collaboration and effectiveness
  • Client Brand – How to build relationships with their candidates and clients to increase engagement with them

Benefits

The tailored Core Strengths training was well received, and its results were felt immediately. Mattias Mieville, Managing Director of South America stated, “The immediate reaction to the training was fantastic. It helped us see each other through a different filter and appreciate each other more. As a manager, I now have a much deeper understanding of how to communicate with my team using language that connects to them and their motives.”

Client facing personnel also gained immediate benefits. “The great thing about it is that we can apply the learning in so many different contexts,” said Jennie Mead, Group HR Director. “Not only does it help us with our internal teams, it also helps us become an extension of our clients’ teams. The tool helps us see things through other peoples’ filters, and that inevitably gives us better outcomes.”

As a true testament to the impact of the training, Gattaca committed to conducting the training with the entire organization, from the CEO on down. The methodology was embedded into the organization through their systems, the way they communicated, and the way they lived and breathed it in their daily lives. It truly became another strand to Gattaca’s DNA.

Training Outcomes

  • Clear, engaging, and respectful communication
  • High levels of collaboration and engagement
  • A reduction in interpersonal conflict
  • Stronger commitments and relationships between people both internally and externally
  • An open and collaborative culture
  • The ability to engage in healthy debate and better decision making
  • Understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of others
  • Accountability, self-management, and resilience in a competitive marketplace
  • Personal authenticity
  • Faster decisions
  • Higher quality outcomes

About the Company:

Gattaca is a UK-based provider of outsourced staffing solutions and recruitment services for engineering and technology companies. The company’s success is built on deep employee engagement among peers as well as between managers and their direct reports. Gattaca aims to deliver client delight at every touchpoint.

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When relationships work, there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved.