Case Study – Essar Oil UK Effective Team Leadership

Learning to Lead Effectively

Essar Oil UK Ltd wanted to support people to Lead Effectively in Essar and to enable people to develop their competence and confidence to support the achievement of business objectives. In addition, and to create a ‘continuous social learning’ aspect, The Oakridge Centre suggested that the business would benefit from incorporating three-way meetings with line manager and HR, 360 feedback and Action Learning Groups with ongoing work based projects. The work-based projects were identified by programme attendees and presented to a leadership steering group in order to gain approval.

The Background

  • The objective of the programme was to give people practical tools and techniques in order to be more effective in engaging their teams. The mantra was “Getting things done in the best possible way”.
  • The business recognised that there had not been a significant investment in the leadership population and there was a gap in terms of development, which, it was hoped, could be filled.
  • Historically, some leaders have been promoted based on their technical capability and were now being asked to lead teams, without any real leadership development.
  • The business wanted to ensure that Managers were equipped with the right interventions at the right time and being very clear about the expectations of these ‘People Managers’

Our Approach

  • It was clear that the business wanted the programme to feel ‘special’ so, rather than a right of passage, delegates recognised the investment being made and their value to the business.
  • The middle management population is seen as a vital group in the overall success of the organisation. As a result the programme was developed to encourage discussion of real issues from the workplace with a focus on developing options for handling these issues. There was a ‘push’ and ‘pull’ within the business for the programme and it has been recognised by the senior team as critical to improved business performance.
  • The Role of the Manager – styles of manager as individuals
  • Managing Performance – turning the attention to our individual team members around the ‘what/how/why?’ approach
  • Leading a Team – looking at our teams as a whole and the way they interact across the business
  • Delivering for Essar – reviewing the strategy of the business and making this real for our own areas

The Results

  • The feedback was excellent and a definite worthwhile investment. There was a mindset shift within attendees who viewed themselves as Managers with a technical background but now see themselves as Business Leaders in their role. People talked about the programme and interaction took place between participants. The bonds and alliances created have had a hugely positive impact right across different functions and the business.
  • As Essar Oil UK Limited began to talk about planning and prioritising for the future, the programme equipped people with useful tools to support this process. It created a ‘common language’ in the middle management tier across the business. Performance conversations were taking place in a much more structured way and focus on how things are getting done whilst encouraging team members to step up and develop their own solutions. Better quality conversations equates to increased engagement and performance. The networking as part of the programme, and subsequently, cannot be underestimated. The business can see that people are using each other and behaving in much more of a coaching style of leadership.
  • Attendees are still networking amongst each other and across the business, leading to stronger cross-functional working.
  • The business is now looking to use the programme and ensure Managers keep using the learning and also benefit from some short and sharp interventions. Attendees have already attended follow-on action learning group sessions to keep the skills in tune. Applying the learning via projects and action learning at local levels has also been impactful.

The Oakridge Centre Feedback

“The modules ramped up the challenge for attendees, and in the final module we invited four senior team members to sit facing each other in the room for an hour whilst we threw questions to them on post-it notes on subjects relating to the business!! When the seniors leave the room we then get the attendees around a ‘Board table’ and give them half an hour to identify three ‘Must Wins’ for the business as they sit in three years’ time. It’s always amazing to see how they rise to the role, and we can share outputs back to the senior team”.

Essar Oil UK Ltd Feedback

“Mark and Judith were incredibly good and the level of expertise they brought to the programme made such an impact. They were flexible, knowledgeable and easy to work with. They have a genuine interest in people and this was refreshing and appreciated. Sometimes, we under estimate the gap in people’s learning when they have been promoted and have a built a career around their technical expertise. It isn’t fair to then expect people to lead high performing teams without some support. The network and collaboration, alongside the practical support, has been outstanding."

Richard Bell, Talent Development, Essar Oil (UK) Limited