Nextel Partners Sees 1,570% Improvement Using SDI for Conflict

Written by Keith Catchpole, former National Leadership Training Manager for Nextel Partners, Inc.

NOTE: The following case study demonstrates the power of the SDI assessment to “heal” a team riddled with conflict. This example merely scrapes the tip of the iceberg as it relates to the true return-on-investment in the workplace. The team’s hard work and dedication to measured results as well as daily reinforcement of the SDI principles produced amazing and sustainable results.

Something was definitely amiss in the Jackson, MS market of Nextel Partners, Inc. Recent turnover and lack of productivity was rising at an alarming rate. The numbers were staggering. Turnover was averaging over 100-percent and net sales performance was only 10-percent of expectations. Sound like conflict? Interpersonal problems were rampant and all but one Account Executive began to pursue external opportunities. Something had to be done.

Entering the War Zone

Jason LeClear, General Manager, arrived in Jackson, MS in March 2004 with a plan.  He began restoring relationships between partners and focusing on building the right team to implement his plan.  LeClear knew he couldn’t turn the ship around on his own. He needed a highly effective team and a tool to aid in the elimination of a toxic and unproductive work environment.

Historically, Jackson was a “challenging” market as it relates to achieving positive sales results. On January 1, 2005, intervention commenced to impact performance in the Jackson market. After several visits to identify the root-cause of the problems, it became clear that Jackson (and more importantly, LeClear) wanted and needed assistance.

The Battle Plan

By February 2005, the first Jackson intervention was well under way. The team was provided a comprehensive virtual (online) pre-work program which included the SDI, the conflict resolution model, and an introduction to Relationship Awareness Theory. A one-day program was then conducted for all members of the team, which grounded the SDI theory using extensive experiential, interactive learning approaches.  Additionally, the participants were provided a number of post-program reinforcement tools, including posters, computer cubes, team arrows, etc.  LeClear’s solution also included coaching, mentoring, leadership and sales interventions. In the end, the Jackson market had begun a transformation into a culture of understanding its goals, its mission, and above all, its people. The results from this initial visit later proved to be astronomical!

The concepts  introduced in the SDI-rooted Conflict Resolution program were not entirely new to LeClear. He attended Nextel’s initial SDI-related program in December 2004. According to LeClear, “The SDI concepts are universal. People and relationships are the most important ingredient to success. If you don’t have good relationship skills, who would want to work hard for you? SDI gave me a language to frame up the discussions and methods of motivations inherent with highly effective teams.”

So You Want Results?

Results, if accurately measured, are difficult to dismiss.  In order to demonstrate effectiveness, actual monthly and quarterly sales results at Nextel Partners were used to demonstrate performance results. The post-training numbers for 2005 demonstrate the Jackson team’s success in many categories.

An entirely separate study could be conducted solely on turnover. Studies from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) suggest that turnover can cost a company from 35-percent to 300-percent of an employee’s annual salary.  Let’s use an average salary of $50,000 as an example.  Using this example, each time an Account Executive separates from employment, Nextel loses between $17,500 and $150,000.  Using the average, which is $83,750, Nextel would lose $1,005,000 for every 12 Account Executives that leave. The small investment of this program (including coaching, mentoring, leadership and sales interventions) shows an improvement of turnover in the Jackson market that has clearly impacted the bottom line.

The concept here is one of planting and watering.  The Conflict Resolution program planted a seed of positive working relationships through self and relationship awareness.  The concepts were brought back to Jackson and watered to their current stage… extreme maturity and measured results.

These results clearly show that the SDI does much more than increase sales productivity.  Increased team effectiveness, reduced conflict, reduced turnover, and increased efficiency are a few more expected results that can be anticipated and expected.

The author, Keith Catchpole is the former National Leadership Training Manager for Nextel Partners, Inc. (Now Sprint-Nextel). He is currently Vice President of Business Development for Personal Strengths, USA and is a SDI Master Facilitator/Senior Associate.