AXA: Creating a culture of constant improvement

The question: Facilitate the cultural change: to foster ownership, leadership, empowerment and accountability; and to continuous improvement.

The result?

The project in a bird’s eye view:

  • The question: Facilitate the cultural change: to foster ownership, leadership, empowerment and accountability; and to continuous improvement.
  • The route: In-depth ICF-ACTP aligned training to learn coaching skills and attitudes and continuous coaching.
  • The result: improved leadership capabilities, 50% less claims, 45% less backlog in SME, improved phone service, lower error ratios, reduced delays in answering claims, higher level of performance, with respect to work/life balance.

The story:

A strategic review of 2009 showed that AXA Belgium was facing multiple challenges: a decrease in the quality of the services provided; a decrease in employee engagement; an expensive cost base; and deteriorating technical results and market share. The core root cause analysis showed that the situation had a cultural root cause: lack of ownership; lack of leadership; empowerment and accountability. It also showed that management didn’t master the basic concepts of quality and productivity. There was an absence of dialogue between management and employees and on top of that performance dialogue was missing in the organization.

Therefore, a company-wide change programme, called “W³”, was launched to radically change “the Way We Work”. The goal was to constantly improve and link productivity, quality and employee engagement. W³ was in charge of making the cultural change happen and had to work around 5 dimensions: process efficiency; performance management; customer-service; mindset & behaviour and organization & skills. We were strongly convinced that they could only make this change happen if they received an in-depth training to facilitate change; therefore The Coaching Square provided a professional coaching education programme that equipped W³ with the attitude and skills required to successfully and sustainably facilitate the cultural change; to foster ownership, leadership, empowerment and accountability and to create dialogue between management and employees, as well as performance dialogue.

The entire W³ population was trained in coaching skills & attitudes aligned with ICF-ACTP standards. As this project impacted all business departments, the W³ community coached the other leaders afterwards.

In order to observe the changes and progress made, the “Continuous Improvement (CI) coach” had a formalized observation role; to monitor progress, pitfalls and difficulties. On top of that, the W³ coaches and navigators sat together on a weekly basis to discuss the status of the implementation.

The development programme was spread over a period of one year, 18 training days, 5 supervision days, 2 certification days and peer exercise practice and a minimum of 10 mentor-coaching hours by a Professional Certified Coach (ICF). This investment allowed W³ to have a high and one-on-one impact on line management.

The W³ programme has transformed 80% of the company with a visible impact on the management culture of AXA. Managers learned to apply fundamental management principles and tools that are anchored in the company through continued coaching and managerial training. The Coaching Square continues to provide a 3-day ‘coaching with impact’ programme for the W³ navigators and continues to work with HR to coach individuals on their adaptability and leadership capacities. The workflow developed in cooperation with HR to provide coaching as a strategic tool on their road to realizing their vision is now implemented.


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