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Global software business | 5000+ employees

Goals: Senior Leadership Development | Retention | DEIB

The challenge

A fast-paced software business, our client was scaling rapidly and facing huge cultural challenges as headcount grew. There were a lot of new managers in the business – both promotions and lateral hires – and a lack of alignment was creating issues.

“Looking at engagement surveys, it was clear there were holes in our management capabilities, and it was seriously damaging productivity, and impacting our diversity efforts. Our retention was also concerning, with turnover in some departments as high as 30%. We were aware there was a need for culture change.” – Talent Development Director.

Working with Sama

“We chose Sama due to the flexibility and scalability they offered. We initially rolled this out to our most senior managers, and once we saw the impact we began adding cohorts of management from critical departments too.”

Beginning with a cohort of 15 senior leaders, Sama now coach 100+ leaders within the business. This has allowed our client to roll out targeted development campaigns, addressing specific issues as they arise.

“The ability to communicate with coaches and for them to have insights on our specific business context was vital. When I’ve managed coaches in the past, communicating on an individual basis everything they need to know can become a full-time job. We were trying to build something bigger than just our managers, we needed this to have a wider impact than the coachee pool, and Sama allowed me to really communicate this to our coaches.”

Leveraging Sama’s confidential insights allows the company to share important company and individual information with coaches before sessions begin, providing context, framing unique challenges, and ensuring the fastest time to success.  

The L&D ecosystem

Coaching was not the first initiative our client implemented to invoke culture change. There was already a robust management training program in place, covering basic management skills and competencies such as strategy and values-led behaviours. 

“We had a great management training program in place, and the team were developing some great structures. But we were still missing managerial courage – that confidence to really lead teams and shape our culture. The emotional intelligence piece needed work, which is where coaching was the only solution.”

The results

Retention

Employee turnover decreased by 50% in 12 months, representing £33M savings and 220x ROI. (use this calculator to estimate your annual cost of turnover). 

DEIB

“Coaching has been huge for our equity seeking populations too. Feedback highlights how female and neurodiverse managers feel more supported now Sama is in place. Personally, as a female leader in a male dominated environment, I couldn’t have survived without coaching.”

Engagement

eNPS increased +17 points in the first year. Most notably, this began in the teams where managers were working with Sama coaches and has spread throughout the business as the initiative has grown. 

Investment Firm | Global | 2500+ employees

Core challenges: Leadership development | Resilience & high performance

Investment firms are unique environments that require navigating a competitive and high performance culture.  Winning deals, investing well, and managing effectively are paramount to the success of the organization. 

Our client had grown rapidly in recent years, increasing the assets under management and products offered. Accordingly, their team had grown substantially. There was an increased awareness from leaders around resilience and wellbeing. 

Given the changing environment and increasing pressure, our client was investing in creating impactful development programs for their leaders of the future, and sought Sama’s support in delivering meaningful coaching curated for the investment industry. Ensuring coaches would understand their unique culture and context was paramount.

“We were initially drawn to Sama due to their work with our peers and how easy it was to get started. Investment firms are quite unique in our specific challenges, so Sama having founders with backgrounds in not only L&D, but also private equity, infrastructure, and VC, meant they understood our world.”

Developing future leaders

The firm was building a robust accelerated development program for high potentials. They had existing access to learning platforms, and an internal mentoring program in place, but were looking to add something that was more personal, flexible, and truly tailored to each individual. 

“We wanted to make it simple for our people to succeed. Coaching fills a specific role and niche in a person’s development plan. A manager has a vested interest in developing you, but they’re busy and might not have the time and energy to be as dedicated to the person’s needs.

“A coach gives a non-directive approach and attention that managers can’t. They focus on action and help that person achieve their personal and company goals. This is why coaching is critical to our success.”

Success in a high performance environment

The client wanted to have a team that was resilient but also thrived in a high performance environment. Developing people’s resilience was an objective of the firm, forming part of their wellbeing strategy. In an increasingly fast-paced and intense industry, keeping people consistently healthy and engaged can be challenging. 

“Burnout can be a challenge, and we wanted to ensure our people had the tools to avoid hitting that point. Sama’s coaches really understand how our business works, they’re an impartial resource and sounding board. So they have a huge impact on how our teams overcome challenges and become more resilient.”

Measurable success

In a data driven industry, the ability to measure success was important. This is the only way to be able to justify resources allocated to any given program. The firm had a huge focus on improving data fluency, people analytics, and initiative measurement: 

“We want to move away from reactive stats and reporting to having clear KPIs and metrics.” Through Sama’s dashboard and analytics, they are able to demonstrate engagement and ROI, helping identify risks and addressing them directly. 

“Even from cohort one, we’ve been able to see people’s ability to communicate improve and the overall culture change too.”

Key metrics

95% report feeling more resilient

73% report better working relationships

2 x more promotions over external hires

About the client: Global investment firm | 500+ employees

Core challenges: Leadership development | Retention | Succession planning

Joining the business as CHRO to support the firm’s growth ambitions, our client rapidly identified a need to enhance the existing leadership development program. 

High growth is always a threat to culture. They wanted to ensure positive integration of their new lateral hires, while enabling the incumbents to be inclusive and embrace change.

Learning and development in the investment world is largely based on an apprenticeship model, making it harder for managers and leaders to mentor through the changing realities of the industry and specific circumstances. 

The main goals for leadership development support:

  • Retain the best talent
  • Maintain a positive culture
  • Give the tools to managers to coach their teams 

A better approach to leadership

The CHRO had extensive experience rolling out leadership development programs in other businesses, and knew there were often huge issues in the efficacy of these programs: “I knew we didn’t want a point in time training program where people forget what they learned. This needed to be meaningful, and deeply embed leadership skills in our people.”

Sama coaches worked with a cohort of mid-level and senior professionals to develop their leadership skills, including:

  • Communication
  • Effective feedback
  • Delegation and people planning
  • Self-awareness
  • Stakeholder management

Communication and feedback were critical for the firm: “We’re emphasizing becoming a culture of feedback; we haven’t been great training managers how to have tough conversations.” Coaching normalized feedback culture, and also gave managers toolkits for delivering – and receiving – feedback.

New responsibilities

Being an outstanding individual contributor doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. The firm was noticing higher employee turnover in teams where those in leadership roles had minimal management experience. Exit interviews highlighted a lack of support and guidance, poor communication, and not enough useful feedback. Giving coaching to less experienced managers hones critical leadership skills, playing a vital role in developing the company’s teams and supporting their growth. 

“The team likes having Sama coaches as a sounding board before having performance management conversations. The manager role is becoming more and more complex over time; Sama solves some real challenges for us.”

Measurable success

Since working with Sama, the coached cohort and their reports have all scored higher in engagement surveys, communication has elevated, and turnover in those departments has decreased.

Key metrics

27% reduction in employee turnover in where coaching is rolled out

+12 eNPS in teams with coaching

92% of coached employees report better working relationships

50% of employees coached were female of which 94% reported a greater sense of belonging