Case Studies From Eileen McDargh
Does your group face a challenge? Need to hear a voice offering joy, humor and encouragement? Need real solutions for sparking action and creating lasting results? These case studies reveal how Eileen listens deeply to issues and customized a solution that achieves lasting change.
Pharmaceutical Company Needs To Cement Team Despite Restructuring
Situation: Significant structural reorganization for global leaders in the regulatory division of major pharmaceutical company. New players have been brought in from the outside and other internal roles have been shifted in a quest to respond to a changing environment. Head of the group knows he has individual world-class performers but needs them to operate as a team and come together to solve issues that transcend geographical boundaries.
Challenge: Develop a Resilient Senior Leadership Team that responds well to change.
Solution: Conducted intensive interviews with every member of the senior team to identify issues, opportunities, and areas of concerns. In the process, discovered that not only was there confusion about roles and goals but they really had no understanding of each other as human beings. Because of a lack of understanding, potential turf wars loomed. I discovered duplication of effort, work either underdone or overdone, and procedures that were either outdated or time wasters
- Developed a three-day offsite retreat that used music as a theme: “ Orchestrating world class medicines with world class performers.”
- Created a workbook/notebook with the compilation of the issues, data on individual behavioral styles, and plenty of information about all of the team.
- Provided a process to generate expanded appreciation for the diverse backgrounds, interests and skill levels of all in attendance.
- Used interaction and a web exercise to unravel the questions related to roles and goals.
- Interspersed three-days with opportunities for laughter and casual conversation.
- Developed action plans and individual commitments so that the alignment and conversation became ongoing.
- Provided small black books so they could record what they are doing differently and what ideas and relationships they developed. These were used as a tool post meeting to capture examples of positive and negative experiences with fellow team members to be used in a follow up exercise to maintain momentum of the workshop.
- Held a video conference two-months later with all attendees to see progress on actions and commitments.
Feedback: According to the Senior Vice President:
“The team started to think for each other. We built the foundation for a transformative team. We now understand how we operate and who we are as individuals. We learned how to have the difficult conversations without being difficult. Eileen pulled us together and got people to tell the truth. She also made it fun. There were plenty of laughs along with very serious moments.
I’ve seen a real improvement into the team’s thinking. It’s a complex business model and how she pulled it together was very powerful.
She hit every single issue she thought we had. She distilled it down. She has a unique ability to gather data and say, ‘This is what matters.’
We spent the last day talking about action steps and made commitments—which she gave us back in writing—about what we said we would do for each other. She gave us a small black book to track our progress and two months later, we all checked in via video conference to see exactly how we are doing.
Nine months later we continue to grow and have transformed into a high performing team.”
Automotive Industry-Related Company Seeks to Develop Women Leaders
Situation: This Internet marketing company has grown by leaps and bounds since opening its doors in 1995. Women are employed in everything from sales to service to support. The industry, however, is very male dominated. Research shows that profitability, retention and performance increase when more women assume leadership positions.
Challenge: How to draw women of all levels together to begin to learn how to develop their leadership skills, how to grow their careers and how to work effectively in a male dominated environment during challenging times. The company also wants feedback on what it needs to do differently. Additionally, customer demands and staffing levels are such that the gathering cannot exceed 4 hours.
Solution: Eileen worked with the planning committee to design a content-rich, interactive learning experience. She developed experiential mini-exercises that got the women focusing on strengths and also what actions individuals as well as corporate could take. Her keynote gave specific examples and memorable language to help the women focus immediately on the result they wanted. She also crafted the questions for a panel of five senior women from the automotive industry, met with them beforehand and then facilitated the panel.
Feedback: According to the Vice President of Human Resources: “This first Women’s Summit was a great success, brought about by “the verve, professionalism and presence of Eileen McDargh. Our employees were captivated by her energy level, by the wisdom she conveyed and by the emotional attachment she created with the group. Additionally, her ideas to pull together the event and mediate the panel worked well and were quite effective with the audience. Most of the women commented, all of who are at different organizational levels and in different roles, that they walked away from the conference with a learning that they could apply immediately in their work or home life. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Clinical Division of Fortune 100 Company Needs a Collaborative Offsite
Situation: Team members are from around the globe. Different practices. New technologies. Communication and understanding need to be improved. This is the third year for a three-day symposium.
Challenge: How to get people engaged, excited and sharing. How to break down barriers.
Solution: Eileen worked with the team for 6 months to design the event. She helped the design team consider creative alternatives to stand-and-deliver presentations. Her knowledge of group dynamics, effective meetings, and facilitation allowed her to serve as both the keynote speaker and subsequent moderator and facilitator of the event.
Feedback: The team reported that attendees rated the symposium with the highest marks and also indicated how they would continue building the bridges the symposium created. Eileen has been asked back to help the team for the 4th year.
Large State Insurance Company Undergoes Consolidation and Personnel Shifts
Situation: A major decrease in premiums and the emergence of new competitors forces a 90-year old organization to radically rethink both its operations as well as deployment of personnel.
Challenge: Keep employees focused and productive in a time of great uncertainty. Help managers know how to address sensitive issues with long-term employees who will be facing a not-so-brave-new world.
Solution: Based on her belief that leadership of self precedes leadership of others, Eileen crafted a two-day intervention to help the managers understand change cycles and their individual behavior during the change process. The second day, she had conversations with the intact work teams regarding concerns and actions they can take during the change.
Feedback: Managers reported more confidence in dealing with issues and what specific actions steps they could commit to with each other and their employees.
Global IT company faces massive change with resiliency
Situation: In a major outsource move, a 130-year-old global consumer products company spun off a division of 1,200 IT employees. The company held an “IT Renewal” conference for the remaining 1,400 IT employees to kick off the company’s turnaround.
Challenge: Launch the company’s new direction, deal with new challenges and new opportunities in a way that honored the truth of the outsourcing situation and gave the 1,400 employees ideas for navigating this change.
Solution: Eileen presented a keynote address, “Resiliency: Staying Right Side up in a World of Change.” In addition, the company purchased 1,200 copies of her book, The Resilient Spirit.
Feedback: Employees gave Eileen a standing ovation. The Human Resources senior vice president invited Eileen to return to speak to the North America group. He noted: “Eileen gave employees language with which to deal with their situation and gave them self-leadership skills.” Employees continue to rely on Eileen’s resiliency concepts.
County leaders overcome gridlock to fill CEO vacuum
Situation: Senior leadership in a large California county was disrupted when an interim CEO replaced the previous (and well-liked) CEO who was found to have misused county credit cards. Budgets were slashed and media reports were negative. The Board of Supervisors faced gridlock.
Challenge: Senior leadership needed to navigate through significant change, clarify and improve relationships, and develop a shared vision to begin the search for a new CEO.
Solution: Eileen interviewed several county leaders to thoroughly understand the issues. She conducted a full-day Change Mastery session with the Board of Supervisors, leading them through a transition model. The group then crafted a “preferred future” statement.
Feedback: County leaders moved out of gridlock to a place of understanding, courage, and commitment.
Employees embrace resiliency to cope with major healthcare reorganization
Situation: The Ontario provincial government in Canada announced that hospitals would be designated for specific services. Many doctors and nurses would move to different organizational cultures; some hospitals would close or face drastic changes. The frontline nursing staff and nurse leadership team of a prominent hospital network were already overworked and discouraged. Many would be sent to another hospital; those who stayed would experience the “survivor” syndrome.
Challenge: How to help these professionals deal with major cultural changes, navigate the transition, and maintain the attitude necessary to do their work well.
Solution: Using grant money from the government, the hospital network selected two U.S. consultants to help: Eileen McDargh and Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady. Eileen met with the teams for eight months via phone conferences and designed three full days of leadership training for the frontline nurses and the nurse leaders. Bringing an outside perspective and a compassion for the complexities, Eileen was able to challenge the attendees in ways that an internal consultant could not.
Feedback: Eileen still receives feedback showing how these professionals have embraced their ability to be resilient.
Sales reps receive strategies to improve work/life integration
Situation: The women’s network of sales reps in a multinational corporation’s meets once a year.
Challenge: These professional women grapple with work/life balance issues. The meeting planner devoted a full day to this critical topic.
Solution: Eileen conducted her one-day workshop: “JourneyWork—Crafting a Resilient Life.” The response was so positive, the meeting planner asked Eileen to help develop a two-day conference—dedicated to this topic—for a group in the North Atlantic states. In addition, Eileen presented this workshop to the company’s West Coast network.
Feedback: Attendees said they were more focused, empowered, and energized to make positive changes in their work and home lives.
Senior leadership team shifts from conflict to alignment
Situation: An international organization suffered financial setbacks, resulting in a major reorganization, a new leadership team and an urgent need to regain lost ground in the marketplace quickly.
Challenge: The reorganization thrust together long-term employees and new employees, all seeking to understand roles, goals and responsibilities. The organization’s vision was unclear, communication spotty and interpersonal conflicts had erupted.
Solution: Eileen conducted three months of intensive research into pertinent issues. She designed a 2 1/2-day offsite retreat to help the leadership team focus on issues, gain alignment and understand individuals and their respective roles.
Feedback: Eileen’s methodology built-in so much team insight and perspective at the front of the process that the short timeframe for the actual retreat produced better-than-expected results. Departments aligned quickly, communication improved markedly and issues were addressed systematically. Eileen continues to gently monitor the organization’s process and provide coaching as necessary.
Health & Housing Alliance members rejuvenated with renewed commitment
Situation: All the major players within the state’s health and housing alliance gathered for an annual meeting. The state’s budget had been hit with severe cuts in financial aid, while the population of seniors needing services skyrocketed. Conference attendees were bone-weary and jaded.
Challenge: Present a 90-minute program to help attendees gain a new perspective on their situation, begin solution-oriented conversations and move forward.
Solution: Eileen carefully researched the group’s issues and attended several conference sessions. She quickly connected with the audience and used stories, metaphors, examples and humor to capture their minds and their hearts in her presentation.
Feedback: Afterward, a nurse supervisor said, “I couldn’t figure one reason for staying any longer in this work. But you gave me one. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Conference session addresses real issues with real answers
Situation: The Women’s Food Forum planned to hold a panel discussion during the National Restaurant Association’s annual meeting. The topic: mentoring with heavy-hitting leaders in the food services industry.
Challenge: Organizers knew this was a beneficial topic for their members. But how could they attract attendance to the panel discussion during the heavily scheduled conference?
Solution: Eileen created an email survey seeking association members’ feedback on key issues. Based on members’ input, she created questions for the panelists and worked closely with them to ensure they addressed concerns.
Feedback: Participation soared and attendees raved! This panel session was ranked in the top three of the overall conference. Attendees praised the fun, fast-paced discussion.
High-stress executives hear message of work/life integration
Situation: An international company’s well-paid executives perform at high levels under tremendous stress. While the company’s owners appreciate the performance levels, they are concerned about the executives’ work/life balance.
Challenge: Present a work/life balance message that the executives could take to heart without brushing it off as “soft” or “not relevant.”
Solution: Before the global conference, Eileen prepared thoroughly by interviewing a cross-section of key people throughout the firm. During the conference, she created a high-energy, innovative presentation—highlighting a company leader on the podium—to create a new vision of life integration.
Feedback: Executives found the message appropriate, innovative and filled with ideas they could immediately put to use.