21 juin 2013 – Top-Management Seminar, in a French pharmaceutical group

The background

At mid-year an international French pharmaceutical group was behind schedule to achieve the performance announced to its stakeholders. The Executive Committee decided to gather a one day-meeting with its top 160 managers to get back on track.

The communication group in charge of the event called a project manager to gather 12 international facilitators to take care of the afternoon workshops. I was one of the 12, and following is the story that I lived.

The HR team was back from a full, intense and authentic top-down morning.
They were told the story of the company, with details on the current situation and on the forecasts for the future. All pieces of information concerning the business, some of them usually kept secret, were released. The Executive Committee shared that they believed that the 160 top-management team could really impact the performance, by taking congruent actions. For the HR team, the picture was set and trust was in.

The flow of the workshop

The workshop I had with the HR team was to last 2h45 including lunch time.

  • Phase 1 : Inclusion and landing
    I invited the team members to share together in circle around this question « What did I hear this morning which is important for me and for the HR team ? ». I was taking note on a flipchart in front of them.
    They were landing, becoming present, releasing the load of information. They shared and listened to each other, becoming at the same time more aware of what was important for them out of the morning session.
    We took a short break.
  • Phase 2 : Framing
    With the VP HR, we introduced the afternoon workshop, its intention, functioning and timing. We framed the direction, the objective and shared the non-negotiable parameters.
  • Phase 3 : Opening the field
    The team members were invited to reflect on this calling question : « What are the most impactful actions that I & we can start on Monday, that will bring the transformation we need ? » By oral, I added « the transformation we need being both performance for the company and well-being for ourselves and for our teams ». They heard it pretty well : « Héloïse, did you say performance AND well-being for us and for our teams ?! I note it down !»
    Within maybe 15 to 20 minutes in silence, they proposed 24 collective actions and 27 individual actions. Because of time constraint we concentrated on the collective actions. I invited them to cluster the collective actions. 4 themes appeared, and they chose to concentrate on the 3 most impactful ones.
  • Phase 4 : Working within voluntary teams
    Choosing the theme that called them at most, they gathered into 3 small teams during 45 minutes maybe. They named the overall action theme, and with the help of a template they precised the action content, the person in charge and the timing in which they would commit to make it happen.
  • Phase 5 : Sharing and closing
    We came back as a whole group and each team shared the results of its discussion. I also asked them how they felt with what they came up with. And… after each presentation of the 3 actions they shared they applaused each other. They were smiling, and really seemed happy. So was I.
    To close the workshop I ended up asking them « How do you leave this workshop ? ». Here is what they shared : « We should have Alexis and Héloïse at each meeting », « J’ai un espoir que cette fois on va y arriver », « I’m thinking of the action we called ‘I love my HR’ », « It was a productive and relaxed meeting », « Yes, and now it’s our responsibility to make those actions happen ».

… of course it’s not the whole story… but most of it !

Facilitation summary

Date: June 21, 2013
Duration: 1 day
Country: France
Number of people involved: 1-20
Context: Business
Practices used: Circle, Open Space

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