The Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) was founded over 100 years ago. Today, it is a nationally recognized American institution with over 2.7 million members who believe in the organization’s mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, to make the world a better place. The Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council (GSKWRC) is one of 112 Girl Scout councils nationwide and serves 67 counties in Kentucky and one county in Southeastern Ohio. The Council services 10,000 members with a staff of over 40 employees located across four regional service centers and two satellite offices.
Organizational Culture Change
On a national level, GSUSA was implementing a major organizational sales transformation that included updating systems, processes, and practices to support their new sales approach to customer service and member recruitment. With the new sales strategy on the horizon, the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer and Chief of Staff recognized that before they could successfully adopt the national sales strategy, they would first have to completely change the Council’s current disjointed and chaotic business model. The Council was deeply rooted in a stagnant legacy culture of tenured leaders who began their career at GSKWRC and did not relate or empower millennial workers which caused an atmosphere of distrust and staff attrition.
The culture was dysfunctional due to a variety of other reasons, including antiquated technology, inconsistent processes, avoidance of accountability, lack of commitment, and deficient succession planning and hiring practices. The executive team realized the Council’s workplace culture was hindering growth. The question was how were they going to transform from an unenthusiastic legacy culture to one of inspiration, collaboration, and empowerment to support the new sales strategy?
Provide a high-energy expert learning and development consultant to influence the critical change in organizational behavior needed
The Council needed a third party perspective with the training expertise to transform their organization so they partnered with The Training Associates (TTA) to customize and deliver a leadership development training program. TTA provided a high-energy expert learning and development consultant with over 20 years of experience designing and facilitating behavior-based sales, coaching, and leadership training — to influence the critical change in organizational behavior needed. TTA provided the Council with consulting, instructional design, onsite instructor-led training, virtual instructor-led training, and coaching services.
The driving force of the program was to coach managers on the importance of communicating effectively. It was critical for management to set the tone of the culture and enforce expectations in the workplace so the development program was designed with a “top-down” leadership approach to foster organizational behavioral change. It was essential to train the managers on effective leadership skills in order to build a solid foundation of trust and transparency. A seven step behavior-based leadership model was applied to focus on key coaching behaviors. The following key actions highlight the training approach developed.
- Employee Needs Assessment and Evaluation Tools: TTA’s L&D consultant facilitated focus groups and conducted personal interviews with employees to better understand their roles, training needs, and development strengths in the organization. Anonymous employee satisfaction surveys were also distributed to collect feedback.
- Leadership Development Tools: It was important for leadership to model the desired professional behaviors so management training was designed based on the needs of the leaders identified during the focus groups and surveys. Development tools were integrated into the training, including open discussion forums, monthly leadership development book club, and role-playing activities.
- Coaching Models/Techniques: A series of professional communication training classes and supporting coaching sessions were provided to each manager. The importance of managing multiple generational employees, setting clear expectations, communications, and outcomes were the core business topics delivered.
- Strengths Assessment and Development Tools: The last phase focused on identifying professional strengths of the entire staff. The TTA consultant used a strengths finder assessment tool based on four domains to analyze team strengths. This one day workshop on behavioral skills training was delivered to all employees and was followed up with a coaching session for managers to reinforce how to effectively communicate the results in a positive way.
The leadership training was delivered onsite to managers and included monthly 1:1 virtual coaching sessions. Throughout the project, monthly management calls were facilitated to discuss successful results, road blocks, and other opportunities for refinement. At the end of six months, TTA provided a tailored professional development training program to develop leaders into enablers of change.
What was an anticipated sales training initiative, turned into a tremendous opportunity to foster a critical change in organizational behavior and culture. The professional leadership development program completely transformed the Council. “One of the greatest achievements of our organizational transformation is to see firsthand the professional growth by our staff,” said Susan Douglas, CEO at the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council. What started as a legacy punitive culture with low morale, fleeting accountability, and chaos, transformed into a culture of collaboration, empowerment, and transparency. Beyond making the Council a rewarding place to work, the training program successfully delivered the
- Staff Development: A formal professional development training program was developed to nurture the growth and retention of employees
- Employee Turnover: Staff turnover decreased 22%
- Culture Change: A foundation was built based on professional growth that transformed a culture from loyalty to one of empowerment based on new company expectations, standards, and training
- Sales Strategy: Delivered a phased communication and sales training plan to guide employees at all levels of the organizational to support the new GSUSA national sales strategy
- Annual Membership Renewal: Membership renewals increased 10%
- Membership Retention: Membership retention increased 10% in two years
“TTA was a true business partner who guided us and made recommendations that directly impacted the success of the project,” said Angie Tinch, Chief of Staff at the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council. “TTA’s training consultant has an innate ability to listen, inspire, and coach people. This professional development expertise made it possible for us to transform our organization into a thriving culture.”
The leadership program was so impactful that it made a positive impact on the sales strategy training. “We did not know where to start but with TTA’s knowledge, expertise, and passion for developing people we were able to deliver a leadership program to develop people to their full potential as professionals,” said Tinch. With the confidence and vision to realize that change was needed, the CEO and Chief of Staff transformed the Council’s culture into one of innovation, leadership, and strength – standing behind the principles of the Girl Scouts mission.