In service companies especially, departmental culture can be a matter of perspective and can either be a cornerstone of success or seriously hamper efficiency.
In the latter case, you’ve just got to tackle the issues.
“Where there is insufficient understanding,” John Eastgate, Sales and Marketing Director at OneSavings Bank observes, “disagreements often occur. We felt that we needed to improve empathy and insight between our underwriting and sales people.”
It is the nexus of risk and willingness to lend that John sought to illuminate – helping his sales and underwriting departments to understand their different perspectives and improve the efficiency of the organisation.
However, the differences go deep. “You’ll find this at any similar institution,” explains John. “There are naturally differences of perspective between sales and underwriting.” Where one may be looking at the opportunity inherent in a transaction, the other is naturally looking at the risks it presents. A sales person will have a different perspective and ask different questions of a broker, than an underwriter would.
There could have been a clash, but careful planning and sensitive handling defused potentially difficult encounters.
These are clearly not issues that can be resolved through simple training, but through a much more subtle process aimed at growing appreciation of the different roles and motivations, then embedding behavioural changes.
Solution Cell designed a programme which was firmly based on the psychology of business roles, and got stuck into the issues from the outset. “They began by putting sales and underwriting teams in the same room,” John recalls, “gently introducing the issues and dealing with the challenges each faced.”
Solution Cell created an environment where people from very different backgrounds were able to begin to understand contrasting viewpoints and appreciate the effects that different attitudes and behaviours have on the whole organisation.
“Over about four months in a series of workshops and ongoing tasks, Lee and his team gave sales and underwriting people targets and got them working together – understanding and communicating more freely than before.”
Solution Cell’s care in the design of a process to resolve the differences between sales and underwriting had an immediate and lasting impact at OneSavings Bank.
“Although it’s not something that bears forensic analysis,” John Eastgate admits, “we’ve carefully observed how performance has improved especially at times of stress. Our ability to deliver a great service well, even at the busiest times, is a good demonstration of the strength of relationships forged in the programme,” he declares. “It has markedly increased efficiency, cooperation, engagement and satisfaction across the business.”
John Eastgate, Director of Sales and Marketing, OneSavings Bank