Client Case Study

Accelerating strategy implementation

How do you speed up the implementation of strategy? And make sure that business performance is boosted?

When major companies want to redefine the way in which people meet their objectives, the fresh perspective and objectivity brought to the situation by Mercuri Urval proves invaluable.

We were asked by BT Wholesale to accelerate people performance in their Markets business unit, based in the UK. 18 months after our involvement in the programme started, positive results were clearly visible, with growing revenues, improved EBIT and higher employee satisfaction.

Building on a strong relationship

Mercuri Urval had already built up a long-standing relationship with BT, so when the company needed our help to revamp the approach of its wholesale division in mid-2007, we could intervene speedily and effectively.

The Wholesale division had previously been focused on the nuts and bolts of selling voice and data capacity to other telecoms companies. But the company’s management wanted to evolve this approach to include the sale of managed services to its wholesale customers – effectively offering to manage the infrastructure as well as selling the components. That required a more holistic approach within the division.

The strategy was already being implemented when Mercuri Urval was brought in. Our client’s human resources team knew they needed a partner to lead the radical change in approach required - a major reshaping of roles, attitudes and performance expectations within the division. Mercuri Urval was the obvious partner, given its track record of successfully dealing with such complex people issues, both for this organisation and throughout its global client base.

“I wanted another step change in the performance of my sales operation in Wholesale Markets. Impressed by some earlier work Mercuri Urval had conducted in assessing a number of our key sales performers for development and succession purposes I asked them to take on a key people programme for us. Working closely with me, my leadership team and HR function, they constructed, managed and delivered a programme to enhance the performance of our people.”

MD, BT Wholesale Markets

A complex challenge

We saw that the client’s relationship with the customer needed to be improved, creating end-to-end accountability, but also that leadership values and communications skills within the division needed to be enhanced. These factors were crucial if the company was to reap full dividends from employees' knowledge of its customers’ needs – otherwise, it would lose out.

As the interface with a company’s clients, sales teams are ideally placed to assess and report back on the customers’ views about what they are being sold – and what they would like to buy, but aren’t being offered. 

Our consultants found that, while BT Wholesale’s account teams had been effective at selling the right solutions to customers, they were less skilled at communicating beneficial information to other parts of their own company – and therefore were not leading the organisation’s strategy implementation. In addition the nature of the sales process was changing; more complex and integrated solutions required more evolved ‘c’ level sales competence - and stronger ‘end-to-end’ sales leadership of their customer delivery teams.

Designing an effective solution

“Mercuri Urval shone a light on the dark and difficult corners”

Human Resources Director, BT Wholesale

Mercuri Urval needed to help change attitudes and performance standards within the BT Wholesale, so that staff viewed what they did in the wider context of their company’s managed services strategy. This was done by adapting our range of specialised tools to provide a large-scale tailor-made assessment and development solution.

o Who could be a top performer working with the new strategy

o Who would be suited to the role, but needed more development

o Who wouldn’t fit in with the new strategy and should have their role re-shaped

o Who would make the best new recruits for the division at leadership level

We used psychometric profiling, interviews, ability testing and a number of other techniques to build up a complete picture have the wholesale division and its people’s capability and potential.  

Senior managers received individual assessments, while more junior staff members were assessed as part of groups in Assessment Centres. Executives received specialist coaching, whilst account teams embarked on their own tailored performance improvement and development programmes. An integrated team coaching solution was also provided to help the newly appointed leadership team accelerate the needed business change.

“Partnership work with MU has included capability modelling, organisation development, predictive assessment, talent management process and practice. As I would expect from a professional consulting organisation their tools, IP and thought leadership are all excellent, what really marks them out is there ability to apply these capabilities in a practical and effective way. MU are able to understand the complexities in our business but make their recommendations in a simple and clear way that offers value to HR and the line."

Programme Lead, BT Wholesale

Getting a complete picture

But Mercuri Urval’s involvement did not just cover what was going on within our client company – we also investigated what its customers thought about the relationship they had with our client. This is a key differentiator for us, and source of significant value for our client.

While BT has its own customer satisfaction assessment programme, we were able to add another layer to that by looking at how its services are perceived by its executive level customers.

So, for example, we would ask the chief technical officer at one of the client’s customers, not just about whether they were getting what they needed, but also about the overall experience of working with BT – how could our client transform itself in a way that its customer would see, respect and connect with?

A successful outcome

Mercuri Urval’s input has contributed to a shift in the standing of BT Wholesale, which is recognised as a high-performing operation within the BT group. Key stakeholders at the company, including the CEO and the HR director, have praised our contribution  

Performance distribution within the division has shifted so that there are now more high performing employees and fewer poor performers. Employees have a much greater understanding of the new strategy, they are getting more assistance with their professional development and they are reporting greater job satisfaction.

This has required some tough action.  A drive towards greater efficiency meant some 30 per cent of the division’s workforce left their roles to make way for better matching candidates, while overall staff numbers were reduced by ten per cent.

However, the result is that the telecoms company does not just have more satisfied, better-equipped personnel in the division, it is also reaping financial benefits.

Both revenues and profits are higher – and while our contribution is one of several contributory factors, it is the people who Mercuri Urval helped select and develop that are delivering that improved performance.

Our contribution is perhaps best summed up by our client:

I can see a clear and significant return on investment from our work with Mercuri Urval. As a result of the partnership, we have a stronger sales leadership team, a sharper understanding of our people’s performance, improved managed exits and performance metrics and a more effective talent and development process – that focuses investment where we know we will get a return. All in all our work with MU resulted in significant cost savings – improved performance management, better hiring decisions, more focused L&D spend – and supported us in driving better business performance through better alignment of our people around their strengths, our strategy and our customers.

I would conservatively claim a combined commercial return in excess of 12 times our investment with MU. Most valuable of all though is the positive impact the relationship has had on our people and their long term professional development – including mine!’

MD, BT Wholesale Markets

Case Summary

BT Wholesale’s key challenges:

Our client, BT Wholesale, is the €5bn, 4000-employee company that provides network services and solutions to other communication companies. BT Wholesale’s sales and marketing division – the Markets business unit – worked with Mercuri Urval to:

o Re-orientate employee performance expectations towards the company’s new business objectives, making them more fully engaged in the process.

o Develop enhanced leadership skills– higher standards, increased performance expectations, stronger strategy implementation.

o Accelerate sales teams’ success in ensuring they were delivering what the customer needed and executing the client’s strategy.

Mercuri Urval’s solution:

Partnering with our client’s HR professionals, business specialists and leadership team we:

o Defined and communicated the capabilities needed in the division to meet business targets and implement a new organisational structure.

o Mapped people within the division to the right roles, while attracting and selecting the best possible talent to the division.

o Identified staff potential and development needs, coming up with clear and measurable development recommendations for each individual.

o Laid the foundations for a culture of continual performance improvement.

o Worked directly with existing and newly appointed leaders to coach them individually and collectively through the change process