Becoming A High Performance Team

The Situation

A new direct marketing division was formed as part of an insurance company that had been operating in the UK for more than 100 years. Fifteen people ranging in age from 20 to 50 were given the challenge of generating a new income stream from existing relationships of the parent company.

The problem was that the new team had no direct access to the potential clients, who were merely told to contact a huge call center "if you should ever need insurance". The first aim was to generate more calls and the second was to transform those at the call center from "the people who answer phones" to those who knew how to respond in a way that converted inquiries to sales. And the team had no idea how to make it happen!

In addition, they had come together from parts of the parent organization in which personal responsibility for making things happen was a rare commodity.

Work of Best Year Yet®

As the team was now responsible for all aspects of this new initiative - the quantity and quality of their performance -- everyone in the new business came together to review the challenges and make a plan to make it all happen. A breakthrough occurred when they committed to taking full responsibility for their results by giving up the right to blame the parent company for any issues that could stop them from getting the results.

They agreed key fundamental issues and starting breaking down barriersto their achieving their plan. Many of these were resolved within the first year, but those that weren't stayed on the radar screen until they cracked them. At times the team leader needed to ask the team for more, even though there were no funds to pay them a bonus for doing so. We used a key lesson in our Producing Results program to help them re-energize and focus on longer-term objectives as well as day-to-day performance.

The Results

When the team first came together, they were a cost to the organization. By the end of the first year, they had exceeded their sales target by 50% and were contributing 40% of the Added Value for the entire parent company.

The team has now expanded from 15 members to 22, and every member of the team has developed in such a way that he or she was given a promotion. Recently a top board member visited a planning and review session and proclaimed that this team achieved more in three hours than his board had achieved in five months.

Recently a downturn in the market has decreased performance in all parts of the organization - but this team, while obviously stretched by this environment, now sees the possibility that they'll be able contribute nearly 80% of the added value of the parent company this year.

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