Bank of Melbourne : Creating an agile mindset

When Westpac Group Property engaged Learning Quest to deliver a development program to approximately 400 Bank of Melbourne head office staff, the purpose was to prepare them for the move to agile – ‘activity based’ – working. In reality, the program ended up supporting people through a much larger change that included an organisational restructure and senior leadership transformation.

When Westpac Group Property engaged Learning Quest to deliver a development program to approximately 400 Bank of Melbourne head office staff, the purpose was to prepare them for the move to agile – ‘activity based’ – working. In reality, the program ended up supporting people through a much larger change that included an organisational restructure and senior leadership transformation.

Group Property Change Manager Jessica Robins says the timing for the Leading, working and thriving in the 21st Century Program couldn’t have been better.

“Our people were already finding it challenging to keep up with a significant number of changes implemented in close succession, so change fatigue was a key consideration for us from the start,” says Jessica. “We had to facilitate the change because it formed part of the organisation’s strategy.

“What we needed was for staff to realise how this would benefit them and increase their flexibility – not heighten stress levels and make their lives harder. We were able to do that with help from the Learning Quest team.

“The workshops not only provided our employees with a better understanding of the range of reactions people might go through in times of change but also some coping techniques and realistic tools they could start using straight away.”

Jessica says she sat in on many workshops and has since used many of the ‘fantastic tools’ she learnt both at home and work. She says other staff provided similar feedback – a reliable indicator that Bank of Melbourne teams had increased their adaptability and resilience to change following the workshops.

“A lot of staff came away from the program saying, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Is this happening across the Group because I can see a lot of people benefiting from it?’ which is fantastic,” says Jessica.

“We ended up getting 95% attendance, which speaks volumes about how positively the workshops were received. People were literally coming back and asking for more workshops.”

Approximately 400 Bank of Melbourne employees participated in the program, which had separate strands for leaders and employees.

Leaders completed three, three-hour, face-to-face workshops across a 9-month period commencing in late 2016: Leading through uncharted territory, Leading collaboration within and across teams and Inspiring accountability in an agile world. Employees participated in two, three-hour sessions: Mindset over matter™ and Collaboration within and across teams.

All participants were also provided with a subscription to the Learning Quest Academy – an online portal with more self-paced learning exercises.

Group Property Project Director Scott Mitchell says the move to agile working is a key part of Westpac’s strategy for implementing world-class workspaces for staff and customers.

“Most of Westpac Group’s Corporate Workplaces will eventually be transformed into agile work environments, providing choice for staff in how, when and where they work,” says Scott. “We acknowledge that we will soon have five generations in the workplace, which is why we need to provide modern workplaces that support agile ways of working.

“The Learning Quest program really helped put the change in context and to debunk myths about activity-based work environments. It helped to increase people’s understanding of how to deal with change, new technologies and fresh ways of working for the benefit of both our staff and customers. Plus, it has increased our ability to deliver great customer service within the Group.”

Scott says the workshops helped to bring anxieties about the new work environment out into the open – so that they could be discussed openly and enable participants to develop a detailed understanding of why the program was in place and how it would benefit staff.

“This greatly assisted in helping people deal with the negative connotations that sometimes come with major organisational change,” he says. “The underlying message from the workshops was ‘We are investing in you’, and people responded very positively to that. It also helped to reinforce the message that ‘You are driving your own future’, which we personally found very helpful.”