A Shared Vision For The Customer Service Division Of A Newly Merged HMO

Part of this Shared Vision Process involved translating corporate values into the specific performance-related behaviors expected of front-line staff. We also helped the vision build an aligned leadership culture by working with managers at all levels to practice the new leadership actions needed to encourage and reinforce the desired front-line behaviors.

The Challenge

Realizing the strategic importance of high-quality customer service, a newly merged health plan had just brought together a number of units from the two former HMOs to create a new Customer Service division. Formerly, neither company had a Customer Service division, so these units had formerly reported to a variety of other functions. The challenge was to form a cohesive management team and create a common culture, where everyone knew what would be expected and rewarded.

The Engagement

The new VP of Customer Service began by asking us to design and facilitate an off-site for his top management group, where they created a vision for the new organization and became a stronger team.

To create a common culture with clear expectations, they asked us to facilitate a task-force that translated a set of values articulated by the newly merged company into the specific performance-related behaviors expected of front-line staff. We then met with several levels of management in each Customer Service unit to customize these behavioral expectations for different units and to clarify the leadership behaviors needed to encourage and reward the desired front-line behaviors.

Finally, we assisted the management teams of each unit in holding meetings with front-line staff where the behaviors were reviewed in small groups, with time not only for in-depth questions and discussion but also for rehearsal of the desired behaviors.

The Results

In the context of an uncertain, post-merger situation, front-line staff responded positively to clear expectations. Follow-up mechanisms, which included on-going Leadership Coaching for the VP of Customer Service, were established at all management levels to ensure consistency in the leadership actions needed to maintain the intended behaviors at the front-line. This consistency, though sometimes challenging to maintain, helped build a strongly aligned culture among formerly disparate units. “The behaviors” became a touchstone for other improvement initiatives that built upon this initiative.