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Driving Double-Digit Client Engagement Through Storytelling

Book on table

“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
– Ancient Proverb

This is the story of how our client, a global manufacturing company, partnered with The CARA Group to incorporate storytelling and metrics to achieve double-digit increases in total employee engagement (over a five month period)…

ONCE UPON A TIME, a global medical devices client implemented a global manufacturing production system impacting several thousand employees worldwide. The new production system had a goal to standardize manufacturing processes, simplify communications and transform their manufacturing culture globally. While the production system was delivered on-time, within budget and scope, our client faced numerous post-implementation challenges from an employee adoption and acceptance perspective:

  • Low adoption given a perception that global initiatives are driven from headquarters (vs. being driven at a local level)
  • Low compliance as managers and employees felt ill-equipped to follow new global standards
  • Low awareness as local HR did not have the necessary tools to effectively manage this change
  • High resistance as this new initiative was viewed as the ‘flavor of the month’

Given the many adoption and acceptance challenges above, The CARA Group engaged with our client to deliver change management thought-partnership and guidance over a 20-week period with a goal for leaders, managers and employees to embrace the new manufacturing production system as ‘the way they work’. Using CARA’s proprietary ‘6D Solutions Framework’, we successfully delivered a long-term OCM solution resulting in double-digit growth in 12 of 13 engagement areas (over a five-month period). While all phases of our framework were leveraged, two critical phases in particular led to significant client success: “Diagnosis” and “Destination”.

DIAGNOSIS:

Our “Diagnosis” phase is the process of collecting supporting data and developing key findings. For this engagement, we synthesized and assessed data collected and leveraged it to inform our Change Management, Training and Communication strategies. Unique to CARA is the use of “Survey Focus Groups” to capture the hearts and minds of those impacted by various change initiatives. Survey Focus Groups involves a complement of two data collection techniques: confidential real time survey response (using CARA’s survey technology) and small group meeting facilitation.

OUR APPROACH:

  • We conducted six Survey Focus Groups as a precursor to the start of our client engagement (each focus group had an average of 20 employees and managers per session representing 25% of the total plant population)
  • The results from the Survey Focus Groups served as a baseline and were leveraged to understand employee and manager levels of awareness, engagement and adoption
  • Upon completion of our engagement, we conducted six additional Survey Focus Groups to re-assess employee engagement as compared to the baseline (five months prior)
  • We developed a comparative analysis to measure post-engagement survey results (and analyzed pre & post engagement results)

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Leaders and employees were not involved in the initial design of the new production system leading to low engagement
  • Employees lacked the capabilities and skills to operate within the new operating model leading to confusion and low process compliance
  • Leadership was unable to measure employee adoption of the production system as the future of work
  • Leaders and employees had not fully embraced the new production model and supporting processes
  • Leaders lacked the capability and change leadership training to support the new operating model

DESTINATION:

The “Destination” phase of our Solution Framework included the transfer of knowledge to internal client
teams including 30-60-90-180 day action plans and recommendations for ensuring long-term sustainable results. With that said, we provided the following deliverables with a goal for employees and managers to embrace the new production system as ‘the way they work’. Each of the following OCM tools addressed specific competency gaps (at both the manager and employee levels), coupled with creative solutions for providing specific action plans for managers to drive long-term adoption and acceptance.

  • Storytelling As A Service
  • Change Management Leader Training
  • Change Sustainability Planning
  • Continuous Improvement Recommendations
  • Leadership Action Planning

STORYTELLING AS A SERVICE:

Unique to this client solution offering was the design, development and delivery of ‘change stories’. The purpose of the change stories was to partner with our client to tell their story as it related to the new manufacturing production system. Our goal was to capture the hearts and minds of client employees and managers resulting in change stories that represented the employee-base of each location. As a result, each change story would be prominently displayed at various plant locations company-wide.

At the completion of our engagement, 10% of plant employees and managers collaborated to understand the global production system vision and committed to making it relevant to their local plant. As a result, each plant location voted on the change story that best represented their personal journey. In total, eight change stories were developed in the form of poster boards, videos, photo albums and even a creative poem penned by a plant employee.  These stories were displayed throughout each plant and served as a visual reminder of “why” and “how” the new production system was transforming their company.

The table below represents double-digit growth when comparing survey results at the inception and conclusion of the client engagement. And while we are pleased with the results from our Storytelling as a Service approach and delighted with the business outcomes, we could not have anticipated the energy, collaboration, partnership and passion of the employees and leaders who volunteered to tell their stories using various medium. This engagement inspired employees and leaders to write the next chapters of their own personal change stories; stories that will live on within each plant location for many years to come…

CARA / CLIENT ENGAGEMENT RESULTS: (Comparing Survey Data Between Sep, ’19 and Feb, ‘20)

Client Engagement Survey Metric* Post CARA Engagement Results
Employee ability to CONTRIBUTE to new production system success + 45%
CONFIDENCE that the new production system was the right approach + 34%
AGGREGATE SURVEY scores between pre-engagement and post-engagement + 30%
Employee INVOLVEMENT in new production system success + 21%
Perception that new production system would improve client COMPETITIVENESS + 18%
Perception that new production system will improve product QUALITY + 10%

*Results provided represent a subset of outcomes achieved

For more information on CARA’s 6D Solutions Framework, our Storytelling as a Service model or for insight into the 13 indices we measured for this client engagement, please contact us at marketing@thecaragroup.com.

Andrew Barnitz, Director, Organizational Change Management, The CARA Group

Author Andrew Barnitz, Director, Organizational Change Management, The CARA Group

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