Leading change at Bovis Lend Lease

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 18 April 2008



Packard, M. (2008), "Leading change at Bovis Lend Lease", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 7 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/shr.2008.37207caf.006



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Leading change at Bovis Lend Lease

Article Type: Rewards From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 7, Issue 3.

Short case studies that demonstrate best practice in rewards

Mirka Packard is based at BLL Foundation.

Bovis Lend Lease (BLL) is one of the world’s leading project management and construction companies, using industry best practices when working with clients to create high quality, sustainable property assets. The group has a presence in over 40 countries, spearheaded by regional hubs in the UK, Australia and the US.

In 2004, BLL went through a company-wide restructuring designed to provide a single global service offering to customers. Following this process it identified the need for the introduction of a change management program for its people to help them deal effectively with changes and uncertainty. Feedback from staff surveys and evaluation forms indicated that people were feeling very unsettled and were worried about where and when the next change was going to come from. Morale was low and there were numerous rumors, all of which was affecting productivity. This needed to be addressed.

Starting from a solid foundation

The company already had the BLL Foundation in place, which was set up in 1983 and was responsible for providing opportunities for the development and well-being of all BLL employees for the benefit of themselves, their families and the wider communities in which they work and live. It devises social, recreational, educational and community-related programs that are designed to support personal and professional growth and facilitate interaction and shared experiences with employees from different offices, business units and regions. Employee feedback consistently rates the Foundation as one of BLL’s most highly valued people initiatives.

With its focus on employee well-being, it made sense for the Foundation to tackle this post-restructuring challenge. The Foundation approached Full Potential Group (FPG), a specialist coaching, leadership and culture change organization that has supplied coaching solutions to BLL since 2001, to help design and deliver a change management program

Foundation wanted a far-reaching program that would be relevant to every BLL employee. It selected FPG because it was able to provide a very personal program covering all aspects of life, not just work, which was applicable to everyone. A management-style program would not be appropriate, as the program would need to reach all employees and also include an element of coaching.

Working on a solution

The two organizations worked together to create a program that would meet BLL’s objectives. The specific objectives of the program were twofold: Firstly, to provide people with an understanding of change on a very personal level particularly around the emotional impact of change and their own reactions to this so that they could then use this knowledge in their professional lives. Secondly, to enable people to proactively deal with change rather than being swamped by it, hence the title of the program being “Leading change” rather than “Managing change.”

Leading change aims to help individuals put change into perspective, to understand change cycles and how to deal with them positively to strengthen self-certainty, despite external changes, and to build resilience to manage uncertainty. It also aims to help them develop a proactive, flexible, positive approach to leading and communicating change using a powerful set of tools and techniques.

Some of the techniques include Kubler Ross’s Cycle of change, Steven Covey’s Circle of influence and concern and the CIGAR model for change conversations. The Cycle of change, which details feelings during various stages of change shock, denial, frustration/anger, flatness/lack of energy, experiments, decisions and then integration back into activity helps individuals to understand what stage of change they are going through and to support others going through change. The Circle of influence and concern helps people to move away from being drowned in the things they can’t affect (the circle of concern) and move towards proactively focusing on the things that they can affect (the circle of influence). The CIGAR model is a flexible and practical tool for delivering change conversations. By outlining the current reality, the ideal, the gaps between the current reality and the ideal, and the actions required to move forward and how these will be reviewed, it provides a structure to conversations that makes them more effective.

The Leading change program was first introduced to BLL in March 2005. As an open program anyone in the business was entitled to attend and to date almost 300 people have experienced it. The implementation went smoothly because FPG really took the time to understand our business and its challenges around change namely, the company-wide restructuring program and the cyclical nature of the construction business whereby people work on one project for a number of months/years before moving onto the next one, thus having to constantly reinvent themselves and deal with change as they move onto each project. FPG also reviewed each workshop with us and took on board our feedback to help refine Leading Change so that it remained relevant to BLL.

Benefits for everyone

People from across the organization continue to attend the two-day workshop and the program has had numerous benefits for our organization. It helps individuals to understand change, which makes them better equipped to cope when change inevitably happens in organizations. People are more likely to accept changes and respond positively, which means the impact is lessened and we are less likely to lose staff or see a decline in productivity.

Constant organizational change can create fear and suspicion. The program helps individuals to see that change can also bring opportunity or new challenges. It also enables people to communicate change more effectively. Our managers have become better agents of change, helping the workforce adopt changes more readily.

The program has also had a well-being impact. It empowers employees to make difficult decisions and recognize areas of their lives that need addressing. Once they have tackled these issues they are happier people and, therefore, more productive. The construction industry has a massive problem with long hours and stress, which ultimately results in low productivity. The program helps people to assess their priorities and values and many people are prompted into readdressing their work/life balance.

We took the decision not to measure the quantitative benefits of the program as we wanted the value to be very personal to each individual. They would then use this to help them deal effectively with change situations whenever they occur, both inside and outside of work. This results in an improvement in their well-being which, ultimately, enhances their performance in the workplace.

Looking to the future

Leading Change also provides a useful networking opportunity, bringing people together and creating links between different areas of our global organization. Delegates always report feeling privileged to have been given the opportunity to take two days of their work time to concentrate purely on themselves and their personal development. It makes them feel valued by the company and they see a commitment from the business to ensuring its people are healthy, happy and self-aware.

Looking to the future, Leading Change remains as relevant as ever and we will continue to deliver it to as many of our people as possible. One of the few constants in today’s fast paced, dynamic world is change itself and Leading Change remains a deeply personal, popular and enriching experience about change for all who attend it.

About the author

Mirka Packard is the regional Foundation manager for EMEA and is responsible for defining and delivering the social sustainability agenda within Bovis Lend Lease. She has been with BLL for seven years; two years in her current role and five years leading graduate recruitment and development. Packard holds an MSc in Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Mirka Packard can be contacted at: Mirka.Packard@lendlease.co.uk

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