Major Bank enhances Team Leader soft skills with CREW Business Simulation

Case Study by Ken Thompson

Background to the Customer:

The customer is a major UK Bank with an excellent reputation for innovation and customer service. Central to the banks success are a large community of leaders and managers in both branches and core business support functions.  

Customer Needs

As a result of a detailed performance review of the core manager group it was established that the team leaders and managers needed to develop stronger skills in how they lead their teams and tasks. In particular it was identified that they need to get better at in “nipping issues in the bud” by having the right relationships and conversations with their colleagues, teams as a whole and their customers.  

The Solution

The chosen solution was CREW, a Team Leadership Simulation, which allows participants to experience leading a small team whose work on key projects is being impacted by issues around their colleague’s capabilities, motivations and other distractions. The simulation lasts for half a day and covers 4 rounds each of one week’s duration in simulation time. It is played by four teams each of four people competing against each other and the clock. The team tasks and staff profiles were customised to reflect the typical tasks and working environment of the bank.

Participant Feedback

The simulation has been run with over 500 managers and leaders in the bank working in teams. Here are some of the most frequent feedback comments on what learning participants gained from playing the simulation:

• Having a motivated colleague makes a huge difference to productivity ….and the end result….

• As a manager I realise now that my job is so much more than simply allocating staff to work – scheduling is only the start of it…..

• It is not just about having the right conversation with a colleague – it’s about having the right conversation at the right time based on the right relationship….

• As a manager if you overschedule yourself you won’t have time to look after your team – “hero managers” make for poor leaders….

• You can’t expect people to work to their limit every week – if you don’t break it up and give them a rest they will get burned out…

• Most of the problems occur when you miss the early warning signs – I will be better equipped to recognise these in the future…

• As the team manager I need to keep an eye on the staff tasks before they go over due –I will go with my gut feel more if it smells off…  

 Overall Conclusions and Value

The sponsor at the bank had this to say at the end of the of the rollout of the simulation exercise:

“The CREW simulation enabled our managers and project managers to actually experience the difference between being a good manager and merely being a scheduler. In fact to do well in the simulation they really had to focus on having the “hard conversations” with staff which are so easy to put-off. The competitive element really helped and they quickly forgot it was a simulation and treated it like the real thing to the extent that some teams were absolutely gutted when they missed a tell-tale warning sign which resulted in a key staff member going off on long-term sick leave and destroying their team’s productivity. We will definitely use this kind of simulation again”.

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More about Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson

Ken is a practitioner, author and speaker on Leadership, Collaborative Working, High Performing Teams, Change Management, Project Management and Business Acumen. His work has featured in major publications including The Guardian , Wired Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Henry Ford Magazine. Ken has also spoken at many international events including TEDx, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Learn Tech (London) and NASA.

Ken is Founder of Business Simulations Ltd.

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