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Change Agents, Team Coaching and Organizational Transformation

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Sanofi Changes Its Culture and the Game of Work!

DJ Mitsch, MCC, The Pyramid Resource Group, Inc.
Barry Mitsch, The Pyramid Resource Group, Inc.
Lynn Hays, HAYSMAR, Inc.

In my decades in business, I have never seen a company so decisively execute a plan to change the culture…thank you! – employee comment from the 2013 Sanofi Change Agent survey – one year after the launch of the change initiative.


When 20 leaders from five global organizations were asked what they most wanted to change in their companies, the response was unanimously centered on their people – have our people work at their potential and our teams work at maximum efficiencies and ultimately, to energize our workforce. While all leaders are rightly concerned about market share, customer service and returning a profit, they also recognize that sustainable improvements and innovations start with employees who find meaning and satisfaction in their jobs and take pride in their companies.

Sanofi North America Pharmaceuticals made dramatic organizational changes and achieved unprecedented results in both engagement and core leadership competencies. In less than one year, the engagement index improved from 61.6% to 90.4%, an increase of close to 30 percentage points. Sanofi did this by recognizing that meaningful change occurs when you win the hearts and minds of employees and deliberately set that as an objective. Some companies hire consultants to apply change theories and process models to restructure their organizations with a top-down approach to change. In these cases, the external consultants may act as leaders, and employees are not involved in the process; they can only respond to what they are told is changing. Sanofi took a different approach. They partnered with The Pyramid Resource Group to design, coach and develop a select cadre of internal first-line leaders to   evolve change from within the commercial organization. These leaders, Sanofi’s “change agents” started by listening to employees and existing leaders and involving them in identifying and driving the needed changes.

The design of the initiative focused on:
(1) accelerating change leadership and team coaching skills; (2) setting the stage for courageous communication; and (3) fostering a culture of coaching and continuous improvement. This approach created the contrast needed for leaders to break down organizational change into manageable events to create new ways of working with their teams. One significant finding was this: even though only 25% of the company’s teams – 60 actual teams – were coached through the process, the entire organization felt the impact and engagement increased among all divisions of the company.

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