Developing client relationship and team working skills for Bilfinger Tebodin engineers
Bilfinger Tebodin is a multidisciplinary consulting and engineering company that offers clients worldwide the knowledge and experience of a team of 3,200 highly skilled and dedicated professionals – experts in industry, health & nutrition, oil and gas, chemicals, infrastructure, property, energy and environment – based across 50 global offices.
Roffey Park has worked in partnership with Bilfinger Tebodin for a number of years, designing and delivering a programme that’s targeted at the company’s engineers to build their client relationship and team working skills and expertise.
The High Professional Programme
“Our engineers are very highly skilled professionals, but their training and development to date has mostly been in their technical specialism. The High Professional Programme takes their learning one step further, taking them out of their engineering comfort zone and focusing them on the needs of our clients, encouraging them to consider how they can best respond to these,” explains Bo Den Exter, Associate HR Business Partner.
The High Professional Programme has a high profile within the business, with line managers nominating the employees they think will benefit from the client relationship focus of the programme. Ahead of the programme, the 14 participants in each cohort are asked to complete a Team Management Profile (TMP).
“The TMP is an important foundation for the programme, enabling the facilitation team to deliver the programme, to explore each participant’s working preferences and characteristics and assess how they might work alongside others with contrasting working styles,” explained Andy James, Associate Consultant at Roffey Park.
As well as the TMP, participants are encouraged to discuss the programme aims and objectives with their line manager and consider how they relate to them personally.
“Networking is key within the programme, but it is equally as important outside the programme. As such it is important for colleagues of participants to benefit from their insights and learning, which also increases the organisational impact of the training.”
Developing client relationship skills
The one-week programme is usually based in the Netherlands and the focus is split evenly between a case study that requires participants to consider the pre-tender qualification process for a client and how they would respond, as well as a range of development activities to build their client relationship skills. The case element of the programme is led by Roffey Park’s Dutch delivery partner, Henk Bellinga from Advitec Project Consult.
The aim of the case study is to build the client relationship skills of the engineers, encouraging them to consider and respond to the wishes, needs and priorities of their client. This can be a challenge for engineers because it’s a task they’ve not been set before in their professional lives; it takes them out of their comfort zone and asks them to think about their work from a whole new perspective.
“The topics we cover include helping participants to conduct high quality conversations, so listening and asking good questions, strategies and tactics to visually plan their work, stakeholder engagement, influencing skills and understanding what makes a high performing team. Much of the development work that we do will support participants’ work on the case study project, helping to integrate their learning and linking the programme directly back to the world of work,” said Roffey Park’s Andy James.
Case study presentation
The participants are divided into two groups during the week-long session and after four days of working together are asked to present their proposals for pre-qualification in just thirty minutes to two ‘client actors’.
“The aim of this presentation is to show the participants’ capability and understanding of the project. The programme challenges and develops their personal capability with regard to client and team interactions, effective team work and dealing with the unexpected and unfamiliar situations that they will have to work in both as individuals and as part of a team as their career develops.
It’s a significant event for participants; they have an opportunity to showcase their skills, ability and thinking to the most senior people in the organisation and receive feedback on their performance,” said Bo Den Exter.
The final day of the programme includes in depth reviews of the case study, as well as individual feedback sessions within the teams. There is also time spent considering how learning from the programme can be applied back at work including some peer coaching.
Each of the two teams also have a call with the CEO and CFO following the programme. This is an opportunity to talk about their personal and professional development over the last few months, highlighting what they’ve learned and the challenges they have faced and overcome. It is a chance for them to explain how they have built networks with the other programme participants, helping to create open dialogue between all levels and locations within the business.
“This is a very challenging but rewarding programme for the participants who have often not experienced this type of learning before and who are being asked to come out of their comfort zone and think about the ‘softer’ side of business and client relationships. It’s a pleasure to see the participants take so much from the programme in a way that will enable them to put their learning into practice and make a positive difference to their projects, clients and colleagues.”
After the programme, participants complete a post-event form with their manager and discuss their learning, highlighting the benefits of the programme, changes and developments that the manager has noticed since the programme and creating together an action plan for further improvement.
“Participants’ opinions are very important because we want to improve future programmes and we evaluate the feedback alongside the Roffey Park team. Changes to the programme could be small, but it can have a major impact. For example, last year’s evaluation highlighted that some participants wanted more one-on-one coaching, so during the next programme we were able to squeeze in an additional half hour coaching session for every participant, which they were all very pleased with!”, said Bo Den Exter.
“It’s fantastic to see the change in participants from before to after completion of the programme,” continued Bo Den Exter. “Ahead of the programme, the employees are often nervous and are unfamiliar with attending non-technical training, but after the programme the impact on them is clear and the value it has added to them is evident.”
“This is a very challenging but rewarding programme for the participants who have often not experienced this type of learning before and who are being asked to come out of their comfort zone and think about the ‘softer’ side of business and client relationships. It’s a pleasure to see the participants take so much from the programme in a way that will enable them to put their learning into practice and make a positive difference to their projects, clients and colleagues,” said Andy James.
Participants are also asked to share their experiences of the programme with their colleagues in the business in any way that they can, whether it’s over lunch or a formal presentation to their team.
“Networking is key within the programme, but it is equally as important outside the programme. As such it is important for colleagues of participants to benefit from their insights and learning, which also increases the organisational impact of the training,” added Bo Den Exter.
“Roffey Park has always been a true and active partner in the development of our employees; they are committed to getting the best out of every programme for Bilfinger Tebodin and our people. Their facilitators are high quality professionals who give a great deal of positive energy to our programme and we value their dedication, together with their practical and informal learning style. In addition, we recognise that their programmes are truly tailor-made to our organisation, which gives us the opportunity to shape the programme content to our specific needs and challenges.”
“Their facilitators are high quality professionals who give a great deal of positive energy to our programme and we value their dedication, together with their practical and informal learning style.”
Bo finally commented “For many years, we have been very happy with the content of the programme and the evaluation of the programme confirms that the participants are more than satisfied too. As we look to the future, we must ensure the content of our corporate programmes are aligned to the strategy of the wider group so that our High Professional Programme continues to deliver the same high levels of impact and value for our organisation”.