SOFT SKILLS TRAINING by Hill & Knowlton, VRP for Uab

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Industry Corporate Communication
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Lithuania
Agency Hill & Knowlton
Agency VRP
Released May 2010

Credits & Description

Category: Internal Communications
Organizational Communication Consultant: Tomas Staniulis (VRP | Hill & Knowlton)
Creative Project Executive: Balys Narbutas (VRP | Hill & Knowlton)
Media placement: Soft Skills Training Workshop (1 Of 40) - Direct Contact - 11 May 2010

Summary of the Campaign
"Soft Skills Training: improving internal communications in a multicultural organization on the edge of Europe."

Steadily expanding a factory, producing sophisticated medical devices in the EU periphery: overcoming internal multi-cultural and multi-lingual challenges in increasing Company efficiency and growth.

Improve factory management’s and team-leaders’ communication and social skills.

Creation and implementation of a specially designed long-term Soft Skills Training Program.

In 6 months - 40 training seminars on communications, management and leadership, conflict management, team-work, staff-motivation, and creativity and innovations at work.

- 92 percent of participants stated the knowledge acquired during trainings improved the collective atmosphere.
- 64 percent of respondents found the acquired knowledge and skills very useful in everyday working situations and problem-solving.
- 95 percent of respondents expressed the intention to continue trainings and personal development.
- Improved communications contributed to the Factory’s 10 percent growth in 2010.

The Situation
Intersurgical is Europe's leading manufacturer and supplier of respiratory support products for use in airway management, anaesthesia, critical care, and oxygen and aerosol therapy. Our client Intersurgical’s largest factory was established in Lithuania, in the small town of Pabrade near Lithuania‘s border with Belarus.
Pabrade’s population of 6,000 is distinguishable for lingual and cultural diversity: ethnic Lithuanians comprise about half of the inhabitants, the rest are mostly of Polish, Russian, and Belorussian origin.
With 1200 employees, the factory is the region’s largest employer. Its annual turnover is 50 million euros, Intersurgical continuously invests in development, automation, and innovation.

The Goal
Innovations and steady production growth require qualified staff, especially managers and team-leaders. Their recruitment is quite a challenging task in a border town.

On the other hand, not only technical skills are required: in a multi-cultural factory environment, good communications, team-work, organisation, and leadership skills are essential. Indeed, effective communication is one of the key factors in increasing a company‘s efficiency.

Our goal was to contribute to developing the company’s efficiency by improving its management and team-leaders’ abilities to effectively communicate, lead, inspire, motivate, and engage employees. These abilities are generally referred to as "soft skills."

The Strategy
Having evaluated the Company’s current status, needs and expectations, we designed a unique Soft Skills Training Program for top and middle managers and team leaders.
These employees play a crucial role in the creation of organisational culture and psychological climate; they are the driving force of organisational change. Thus, it was necessary to focus on developing their social and leadership skills, knowledge, and ability to communicate efficiently.

Our program consisted of five seminars, covering significant topics:
1. "Principles of Communication" (internal communication, active listening and non-verbal communication)
2. "Elements of Leadership" (management and leadership, rhetoric and persuasion)
3. "The Art of Tempering the Storm" (conflict management)
4. "Team Spirit" (team-work and staff motivation)
5. "Everyday Einsteins" (creativity and innovations at work)

The program’s pinnacle was a major team building event "21st Century Robinsons," based on Andrey Tarkovsky’s popular movie "Stalker" and the computer game "Fallout."

135 employees (more than 10 percent of Intersurgical’s staff) took part in the training program.
It was implemented in two stages: April - July and September - November 2010. Between these two stages in August; a team building event "21st Century Robinsons" was organised for about 100 participants.
Employees attended the trainings in groups of 10 to 20 persons. During the course of the program, our consultants held 40 workshops on the five topics above, which totalled 288 hours of training.

Trainings included a variety of educational methods:
- Individual tasks - questionnaires, testing, role-creating;
- Work in groups - moderated discussions, workshops, strategic planning;
- Role-playing games, work situations simulation;
- Footage analysis and discussion;
- Individual consultations.

The entire training process was constantly assessed, the progress and performance of participants was evaluated in regular reports, and documented in video footage.

Documented Results
The impact of the Soft Skills Training Program is mainly revealed by participant feedback, provided in nearly 700 evaluation forms. These indicate that:
- Work atmosphere has improved: 92 percent stated that the knowledge acquired during trainings improved the collective atmosphere.
- Creation of a foundation for more effective work-conflict solving: 64 percent of respondents stated that the acquired knowledge and skills were very useful in everyday working situations.
- Principle of a learning organisation implemented: 95 percent of respondents expressed intention to continue trainings and personal development.

Interviews with the Company’s authority and program participants reveals that the knowledge and skills acquired during the trainings, are contributing to increasing the Company’s efficiency.

We believe that our work contributed to the 10 percent growth the factory experienced in 2010.
After the success of the Soft Skills Training Program, the Board has decided to continue the program this year.