Rathbones – Management Development Programme


Background and Objectives

Rathbones is one of the UK’s leading providers of investment services for individuals, organisations and charities. We have been working closely with Rathbones’ Leaders and managers since 2012. With leaders and managers facing the daily challenges of a fiercely competitive, fast moving and highly regulated sector, it is essential that they develop internal structures, processes and leadership practice to sustain their enviable record of maintaining strong and personal relationships with their clients. Our partnership with Rathbones’ L&D people meant that we were able to provide our insights and expertise throughout the design, delivery and evaluation of the programme. The programme would need to do the following:

  • Address the challenges of leadership across the entire range of Rathbones leadership roles
  • Create more self-aware and focussed leaders who fully embrace their accountability
  • Provide practical tools for leadership, people and process management
  • Promote and increase cross-functional collaboration
  • Maintain consistent standards across the organisation without compromising on empowerment and autonomy of the leaders

Programme Format

It was clear, from the outset that the programme would need to be built in a modular format, allowing for incremental development of leadership skills and knowledge. It was also clear that the programme would be most effective if there was a good level of co-delivery with Phoenix & Rathbones facilitators working together to truly ‘bespoke’ the programme. Additionally, it would be necessary to deploy a number of self-evaluation tools to create the levels of self-awareness and to open minds to leadership development.

One of the greatest contributions to the ongoing success of this programme was the willingness of the Board members and Executive Leaders to engage in the programme first – equipping them with the knowledge, skills and common language of leadership that would help their people successfully complete the programme.

The programme began with MBTI Step 1 combined with the John Adair 360 feedback reports. This created the foundation for three further modules tracking Adair’s ‘Action Centred Leadership (ACL) model. The first focussed on developing the individual using the will/skill framework and adding in feedback and coaching as key development tools. This was closely mapped to the ‘task’ day with Rathbones Performance management structure. The final session focussed on building the team, focussing not just on the team dynamic but also critically reviewing team and organisation structures. The culmination of the programme saw individual managers demonstrating to their senior leaders how they had used (and intended to continue to use) the learning at a presentation event which was followed by a celebration dinner.

The results – Kirkpatrick evaluation

Level 1 – Reaction to Learning

Attitudes to the learning varied greatly prior to the first module ranging from scepticism to enthusiasm and everywhere in between. Once again, our relationship with the L&D professionals at Rathbones ensured that this was managed pro-actively, ensuring that the programme design catered for all mind-sets. As each cohort progressed through the programme, engagement levels increased as the practicality, honesty and realism demonstrated by both Phoenix and Rathbones facilitators began to become clear.

Level 2 – Learning

Modular, blended programmes provide the most robust test of whether people are learning. They provide unique opportunities for face-to-face testing of knowledge. We were able to keep a close track on learning, ensuring all participants built a solid level of understanding. The final presentations confirmed that this high level of learning has indeed been achieved along with the commensurate changes to leadership practice.

Level 3 – Behavioural Change

It is recognised that the weakest link between the different levels is the one between understanding the principles (level 2) and applying them to daily work practice (level 3). Programme design and modular delivery ensured that Rathbones and Phoenix L&D professionals could maintain a keen eye on the degree to which the learning was transferring into the work place. The final presentation also provided the focus on behavioural changes and the results-based evaluation they had been asked to demonstrate.

Level 4 – Business Impact

With such a diverse population of leaders drawn from all parts of the business, it is no surprise that the results based measures were equally (if not even more) diverse. Most results-based outcomes were also pleasingly specific and could be easily tracked back to a change in leadership mind-set or deploying the enhanced skillset. The programme continues to deliver results and we have shared a few here:

  • Enhancements to working through team reorganisation/restructure
  • More engaged team members through leadership style changes
  • Team members much more aware of the importance of having a structured approach to their development
  • Several reports of fewer ‘difficult’ conversations
  • Clear examples of process improvements and efficiencies being delivered
  • Fewer, quicker and more effective team meetings

And what’s the final measure of success for the programme? It continues – with the next tranche of Rathbones managers eagerly awaiting their programme launch event having been briefed by their line managers who have already benefitted from the programme.