How we in St. Gallen deepen our engagement with customers: transfer coaching as a lever for higher impact. An interview with Prof. Dr. Ueli Zwygart.
How has your experience as a leader in the business world and now an honorary professor at the University of St.Gallen taught you about how to achieve maximum impact?
You need energy and drive to get things done. However, execution demands a whole repertoire of actions and behavior: First, you should have vision and purpose; second, objectives are needed, and, importantly, without other people’s devotion, drive and skills, you won’t be able to achieve what is expected and what is in the long-term interest of the company.
How do you think transfer work in exec ed. programs should change in order to generate more impact?
Our motto „from insight to impact“ is exactly what is needed in our complex world. Our faculty provides a whole range of results from research and insights for executives who, in turn, receive inputs and are inspired to re-think their business and actions. Of course, we do not expect executives to go back to work and start changing right away. This may be too fast and not the right thing to do for the firm. However, sometimes all the insights and inspirations get lost in the course of the demanding operations. That’s exactly where transfer coaching can generate impact: We acknowledge that lecturing is at the core of our competencies; but that we need to make an extra effort implementing the learning points, so that insights can more easily turn into action points and results.
What challenges have you seen participants face in transferring their learnings to practice, and how do you support them?
The risk is, that insights get lost or forgotten, because of the complexity of today’s business and the operational challenges executives face on a daily basis. Transfer coaching supports executives in achieving impact: By asking the executive to write down transfer objectives and tasks; by accompanying him or her periodically; by asking tough questions regarding results (What have you achieved so far? Where are the obstacles? What options do you have? What do you intend to do?) As a result, insights can turn into actions and finally have an impact on the business and/or the individual itself.
What is an example in which your transfer support has had direct impact in the business life of a participant?
The executive received mixed messages about customer satisfaction. In addition, she had challenging relationships in her after sales department. We supported her step by step: She made a detailed (written) analysis and articulated the decisions, in other words the objectives she wanted to achieve. Then she did a customer satisfaction survey and an internal review. With more than 80% of returning questionnaires she was able to analyze the situation in depth and draw the necessary conclusions. Together with people from all departments she implemented a customer relationship journey; she also fired a toxic element of the after sales team. Now she has a dashboard which allows to see the customer satisfaction rate on a monthly basis. With more than 95 % satisfied customers she is among the highest and best in the group.