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Case Study – Culture Change Programme in a Major UK Outsourcing Organization

This article, based on a case study in Developing Mental Toughness, 2nd Edition (ed. Doug Strycharczyk and Peter Clough) is by Peter Wortley & Chris Davis, AQR Coaching and Mentoring. AQR has been instrumental in most of the pilots which led to the adoption of Mental Toughness in new sectors.

The client’s challenge

In 2014, UK retail credit became regulated by the FCA as part of a restructure of the OFT. In order to meet the regulatory requirements and drive forward the performance of the business, a major UK outsourcing organization, operating in the private sector, engaged AQR Coaching and Mentoring to deliver and integrate a coaching-based Management Development Programme across its 5 sites (4 in the UK and 1 in South Africa). The programme was delivered to over 200 senior and middle managers across the business, who were all assessed in each element of the programme to become certified as competent.

The programme was designed to deliver changes in culture in order to ensure that the business complied with the requirements of a regulated entity and to drive improvements in efficiency and profitability. Key elements of previous culture within the business and desired outcomes are shown in the table below along with the business results in the months following completion of the programme:








The programme was designed around 3 themes:

1. Transition to a regulated environment

This element was to educate participants about regulation and the key concepts of ‘Treating the Customer Fairly’ (TCF) as well as introducing the Training and Competence scheme for the business and the systems and processes which support a regulated environment.

2. Mental toughness development

This element was seen as critical to delivering the change in culture required across the business. All managers were assessed and coached in developing their own Mental Toughness and in supporting their teams to develop it. The table below summarises the mental toughness scales and how they aligned to desired elements of changes in behaviour and culture.












3. Coaching Skills

This element was to help managers across the business coach and develop team members in both business skills and mental toughness. Coaching skills were interwoven into all aspects of the role and managers were encouraged to coach their peers and customers as well as their teams. Processes to continually develop and support the managers as coaches were introduced within the business as part of the programme.


The programme delivered a number of tangible changes across the business, which led to a number of positive outcomes, including:

• Full compliance with the FCA regulations
• Reduction in total staff costs
• Turnarounds within the primary contracts in the business from loss-making to profit
• Achievement of all key client metrics across primary contracts including customer experience scores
• Significant reductions in absence and staff turnover levels
• Improvements in efficiency and reductions in waste across the business

You can order Developing Mental Toughness 2nd Edition at a 20% discount when you enter code TOUGH20S at the checkout at