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Retaining Women as Partners

Case Study

Retaining Women as Partners

The Challenge

A professional services firm was concerned about high turnover among women resulting in under-representation of women at the executive level and potential claims of discrimination. Senior Partners believed that they were taking sufficient steps to overcome equity concerns and did not believe there was bias or discrimination in the firm.

What We Did

We began by sitting down with senior management to understand their perspectives and confirm the general hypotheses. We did a complete human resource data review including departures and promotions and projections based on current trajectory. In addition, extensive interviews with both current and former female employees were conducted.

What We Discovered

Based on current trajectory, instead of being on track to have parity within the levels of the organization, the data and interviews indicated that it would take 40 years to achieve equity of women partners. The growth in women partners were much smaller increments than originally expected. The documented and generally accepted reasons for women departing centered around family concerns. In fact, we learned that most of the more senior women who left joined other firms. They did not believe they were well positioned to become part of the executive team. What was most striking was that high performing women were not given the opportunity to work on the higher profile clients.

Based on current trajectory, instead of being on track to have parity within the levels of the organization, the data and interviews indicated that it would take 40 years to achieve equity of women partners.

 

Implementation & Execution

Plans were developed to reevaluate how individuals were assigned to projects.

Mentoring and coaching

Mentoring and coaching was established for both male and female employees.

succession Planning

Succession planning was strengthened and integrated to this project as it
had been a separate initiative before this engagement was completed.

defined indicators

Leading indicators were established to ensure we optimized tracking.

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Acquisition & Merger Integration: Overcoming Fears & Driving Success

Case Study

Acquisition & Merger Integration:
Overcoming Fears & Driving Success

Conscient Strategies led the pre-merger discussions and negotiations and the post-merger integration of two international organizations.

Key Challenges

  • Redefining the portfolio of services to increase the relevancy within a changing marketplace

  • Reversing declining financial situations

  • Establishing a culture that respected the distinctly different cultures of the two original organizations and served the future, merged organization

Hurdles for the Organizations and Employees

  • Letting go of “what is” typically encounters resistance and creates stress among staff. In this organization, staff and management were challenged to re-imagine both the position of the organization in the marketplace and the portfolio of services. Pet programs and services were not exempt from analysis. “We’ve always done it that way” was not a reason to continue what was.
  • Coming together as one organization required overcoming numerous hurdles. Executives needed to align their financial management practices and views on risk as well as their leadership styles. The two Boards needed to reconcile governance and level of involvement with the organization. At the staff level, employees needed to embrace new social and professional relationships while developing and adjusting to new processes. The new organization demanded a single, new culture and common practices.
  • Making it safe for employees to go through the transition was key. Employees all along the hierarchy needed to be safe to try, to fail, to innovate, and to succeed.
  • Managing risk and financial outcome was crucial to the success of the merger. Leaders needed to develop a single view of acceptable risk. Finances needed to be rationalized to reflect common definitions and time frames.

What We Accomplished

Established a new vision

  • Redefined the positioning of the organization to be recognized as a center of innovation in the market
  • Utilized benchmarking and brainstorming to model and establish new ways of tackling issues and getting ideas flowing

Improved the financial picture

  • Repositioned the organization to drive greater revenues
  • Revised the service portfolio to optimize both the top and bottom lines

Created a new organizational structure

  • Defined new roles and responsibilities and how people and positions would interact
  • Clarified how roles would be filled from across the two original organizations
  • Led the search for a new CEO who would align with the new vision
  • Established a new Board and governance structure

Defined and Integrated a new culture

  • Defined and implemented a new culture– from “it’s how we do it” to a focus on innovation, collaboration, and responsibility
  • Infused the new culture into behaviors and actions
  • Developed and implemented processes that reflected the new culture, including areas such as operations,recruitment, feedback, and meetings

Engaged all stakeholders regardless of historical political position

 

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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Partnership Alignment & Sale

Case Study

Partnership Alignment & Preparation for Sale

Conscient Strategies assisted the principles in a partnership that had experienced rapid growth to reevaluate their alignment and their objectives resulting in preparing the company for sale.

Key Challenges

  • With annual revenues catapulting overnight from $800K to $11M, the two partners struggled to manage the increased workload and scale their team effectively.
  • Resentment grew as one partner assumed significantly more responsibility than did the other.
  • As the relationship between the partners deteriorated, the culture of the firm suffered, and the future of the company began to be at risk.

What We Did

Conscient Strategies addressed three critical issues:

  1. Reconciling the tension between the partners.
  2. Understanding the culture of the firm and its strengths and challenges.
  3. Determining the optimal path forward.

We began by facilitating group sessions with both partners to identify goals of the firm and understand how far the divide was between the two partners. We also held individual sessions with the partners and with each member of the team to further understand the culture and to identify any opportunities to reconcile the tensions that were disrupting the success of the firm. The Conscient Strategies’ team drew on its deep business acumen and extensive experience dealing with cultural considerations as well as on its expertise in executive coaching and facilitation.

“Conscient Strategies has allowed our ownership team to recognize where our strengths lay and to develop a path towards alleviating many of the tensions that had been building over a two-year period of time. They helped us recognize that although we continued to expand rapidly, we had not changed the way we were working. Their professionalism, ability to facilitate and identify strengths and weaknesses both individually and as a company enabled us and our team to grow at a time when doing so was paramount.”

What we Accomplished

Our recommendations and actions spanned a number of areas:

Enabled the two partners to agree on a common vision of the current situation.

Defined a path forward that involved selling the firm.

Assisted the partners and the firm to prepare for sale and acquisition.

Helped the dominant partner to position himself with the acquiring company.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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Rebuilding Culture After CEO Dismissal

Case Study

Rebuilding Culture After CEO Dismissal

The Challenge

The CEO was terminated by the board following advice from legal counsel. When we arrived, the work environment was dysfunctional as a result of the actions of the terminated CEO. Distrust and suspicion remained. The board and a recently hired COO was concerned about reenergizing a relatively young staff and bringing the organization back to productivity.

What We Did

After conducting an employee engagement assessment, we held a companywide gathering. We conducted “truth & reconciliation” type meetings to allow the opportunity for grievances to be heard and responses given. We also acknowledged the point of transition and described the vision forward to drive the organization to greater success. Bringing everyone into the nature of the change process set the expectation that the road ahead will be bumpy, yet there is a clear path out of the turmoil. We worked with the board on their role, decisions and interactions with the staff to ensure that all parties were aligned with the actions necessary to stabilize the organization.

What We Discovered

The board demonstrated inconsistent behavior and oversight driving some of the instability surrounding the leadership transition. The organization was structured such that outside stakeholders beholden to the founders often drove much of the negativity. Staff were either not allowed to rise to their position or promoted prematurely, creating an environment where no one trusted the others on the team, including a clear “us vs them” divide between senior leadership and the staff.

Conscient Strategies discovered that staff were either not allowed to rise to their position or promoted prematurely—creating an environment where team members didn’t trust and support one another.

 

Implementation & Execution

Our recommendations and actions spanned a number of areas:

board management

We worked with the board to clearly define their role of a board and appropriate interactions with the operating team.

reset vision

We helped to reset the vision of the organization as a whole and understand their
importance to realizing that vision.

coaching

We coached specific employees to mature some of the behaviors that were exhibited by the team

organization restructuring

We restructured the programmatic responsibilities, processes and clarified professional accountabilities to optimize the productivity of the team as a whole.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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Toxic Work Environment

Case Study

Rebuilding a Toxic Work Environment

The Challenge

The CEO of a professional services firm was concerned that revenues had plateaued and that the firm was experiencing high employee turnover.

What We Did

Our first step involved extensive discussions with the CEO to understand his perspectives and objectives for the firm. We then reviewed the financials and conducted in-depth interviews with a broad sample of employees. These steps led us to conduct a preliminary market and competitive assessment.

What We Discovered

The primary driver of both the stalled financial performance and the high employee turnover was a hostile work environment. Many staff were high quality, and they quickly determined that the culture of the firm and the toxic personalities at the executive level were not to their liking.

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Implementation & Execution

Over an 18 month period, our recommendations and actions spanned a number of areas:

Executive Coaching

We instituted intensive executive coaching for the CEO and select staff.

Planning

We modified meeting agendas and schedules to ensure that everyone understood the what, for what and so what of each meeting.

Culture Shift

We led the team in defining the desired corporate culture and put in place actions to make that culture come alive.

Staff Repositioning

As appropriate, staff were repositioned, and in a few instances counseled out.

Empower Employees

Changed processes and approval requirements to appropriately empower staff, and helped reset staff priorities to balance both immediate and long-term revenue generating opportunities.

Restructured Strategy

We restructured the firm strategy to reflect the changes in the market and competitive environments.

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

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