UK Bank.

Case study

Creating Focus for Culture Change

The challenge

The creation of our client as a ring-fenced bank, together with the arrival of a new CEO, provided the financial institution was a catalyst for the organisation to get focussed around the culture they needed to make the business successful.

Culture was not a new concept to our client, in fact part of the challenge for the UK bank was bringing together culture goals from a number of sources and aligning that with what they wanted to achieve.

As with many organisations, there was work underway on some key cultural levers such as leadership development and performance management and a long list of possible areas of focus.

Work had already started with a group of champions and there was a desire to reinvigorate this passionate group by providing them with a clear role.

The approach

Walking the Talk worked with the UK Bank on four main areas:

  • Engendering a greater sense of shared responsibility for culture among the extended leadership of the business.
  • Creating clarity and alignment around the culture our client needs as a business and the behaviours that are critical to create change.
  • Creating a focussed plan to create change.
  • Reinvigorating culture champions, using them to help identify role models of the target culture throughout the business.

UK Bank - streams

Stream 1. Engaging leaders

An upcoming UK bank launch for the top 300 leaders provided an opportunity to engage them around culture.

  • To prepare for this event Leaders were invited to participate in a survey measuring their perception of the culture in the UK bank. This was seen as a critical foundation to them accepting the reality of the current culture.
    • The assessment provided a vivid description of the culture in the eyes of the leadership and identified 3 key critical areas of focus.
  • Based on this data, Walking the Talk’s consultants worked with our client to design a high-impact, personal culture session for the leadership event; advised on the framing and structure of the entire event to leverage the insight from the research; and prepared leaders to deliver the culture session so it was organisation lead.

Stream 2. Creating a clear cultural focus

Walking the Talk worked with the business to create clear and concise behavioural outcomes by employee’s segment over time, enabling translation of the culture ambition into action. Using interviews and desk based analysis we determined two root cause behaviours to unlock in order to achieve cultural shift.

Stream 3: Creating a focused plan for change

Our client’s existing culture plan contained a large number of possible initiatives which were scoped before the UK banks ambition and culture priorities were agreed. Walking the Talk reviewed whether these remained fit for purpose, which had the most impact and highlighted any gaps.

This involved hosting interviews and workshops with key initiative owners to map contribution of initiatives to the culture priorities; codevelopment of a prioritisation framework; prioritisation of the few critical, high impact initiatives to include in the plan based on impact across employee segments.

Stream 4: Engaging Culture Champions to find role models

Finding existing role models throughout the organisation, is a powerful way to build momentum around the target culture. Working with an existing culture champion group Walking the Talk helped redefine their role as finding culture advocates and coached them to find and interview role models to set up a database of stories which leadership and communication could leverage.

The results

  • Our client achieved buy in to the culture goals and plan from the Executive and everyone understands the burning platform. There is full support & sponsorship of the UK CEO and the European Board.
  • Leaders became enthused and a safe environment to operate and speak up more confidently has been created.
  • Key priorities for focus in 2018 were agreed and everyone understands them.
  • It was been agreed to lift the People element in leadership scorecards including a 360- feedback mechanism.
  • Culture champions were mobilised, reenergised and facilitated interviews with role models across the UK which created positive energy and brought out some great stories and quotes, subsequently used to inspire leaders.

"The Walking the Talk team made a great contribution… They brought external insights through success stories and lesson learnt from other organisations … The team have a lot of experience on Culture transformation and bring that knowledge to an organisation that is trying to address their Culture issues internally".


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