From bonding to action – making a team ‘Match Fit’

Jean-Pierre Beneche, Executive Director of global financial services group Julius Baer, explains how MatchFit’s ‘Building Teams’ programme delivered tangible results in creating and establishing a highly-effective specialised team.  

Headquartered in Switzerland, and with a presence in the UK, Julius Baer is a global private wealth management company, specialising in supporting the financial needs of high-net-worth individuals. Jean-Pierre’s team reports into the Chief Risk Officer and was created to ensure the efficient and compliant handling of data connected to the organisation’s activities.

Building a new team, understanding the challenge

Jean-Pierre’s had the task of rapidly building a new team capable of quickly delivering on a clear vision. Following the team’s formation in September 2022, MatchFit came in to offer guidance and ensure the group would develop in the most effective way.

“I was new to a role that required building and leading a new team, who were quite diverse in their levels of experience and specialities. A key factor in my successful leadership would be finding ways to get them to work together effectively as a team. I was also mindful of the pressure I can put myself under to constantly deliver high standards. Having discussed the challenges with our HR department it was suggested we work with MatchFit, an organisation that had delivered good results for other teams in the past,” he explained.

MatchFit ‘Building Teams’ module

Having analysed the challenge with MatchFit, it was decided that their ‘Building Teams’ module was the most appropriate programme to achieve the required outcomes.

Jean-Pierre wanted to create a core vision for the department and motivate the team. Given the different role profiles and levels of experience, it was key that everyone came together early in the process, to ensure they could see how their roles fitted into the team and how the group could become as efficient as possible.

“There was an important pre-phase before the group came together,” he explains. “Individually, we had one-to-ones with [MatchFit managing director] Bradley, where we explored a range of issues. We joked about what we might have said in these sessions and that in itself allowed us to start bonding more as a group.

“Expectation was building before we met as a group for the first time around what was going to come out of the process. It became a recurring topic of conversation. I didn’t need to proactively remind the team that the group session was going to happen. I thought that was fantastic,” said Jean-Pierre.

After the first group meeting, the group took the view that they needed to digest what had been discussed and Jean-Pierre followed up with group and individual conversations about the output and what it meant for the team.

Making a real and immediate impact

There were immediate tangible signs that the programme was working.

“Naturally I expected the programme to help but it actually contributed to the enhanced performance of my team in a very short period of time. It definitely helped me individually and I have to say I was not necessarily expecting it to be so helpful,” said Jean-Pierre.

The dynamic around the programme really engaged the team who discussed it throughout the three-week process and took bets on what the next session would focus on. “It really became a ‘thing’, which added to the team bonding process,” added Jean-Pierre.

He continued: “I think what this has really, truly, created is an awareness of our strengths and weaknesses as a group. That was one of the main outcomes: the understanding that we need to be aware of these as a team, because there’s nothing worse than being blind to them.”

The programme has helped Jean-Pierre understand you cannot just get on with your day-to-day operations without taking the time to step back and reflect. “And the MatchFit sessions allowed, and even forced, us to do this”, he said.

The sessions proactively helped Jean-Pierre and his team take action to be more efficient with regular discussion around things the group could do to achieve this.

“It’s easy to say that you need to improve in certain areas but then just carry on with your day job. The programme forced us to stop, take a pause and decide: okay, out of the 10 things that we said we potentially wanted to do, we’re going to focus on two or three, actually do those, and assign responsibilities. We also understood we needed to make sure we stay accountable around those decisions.”

Tangible changes

He continued: “I’m especially proud that we didn’t just close the door after the session and say, ‘let’s see what’s going on in six, eight weeks’ and then take no action. We really stepped up to the mark and made the changes we said we would.

It was one of the first comments in the second session. Michael [Brooke, MatchFit consultant] and Bradley really challenged us. It is normally the moment in a programme when everybody’s looking at each other, because nobody has actually done any of what they said they would. But my team all stood up and said, ‘no we have done things. Things have changed. We’ve really been active around what we discussed’. And that’s something that I really liked.”

When the programme finished, the team documented the actions they still felt they should focus on.  

“My team has been very, I’m going to say, aggressive in taking action, but in a positive way.” He continues: “MatchFit created energy around the determination to make us a successful team. It has definitely created a bond around the desire for excellence that this team wants to be recognised for; it’s become a shared goal.”

A new viewpoint

“I would definitely encourage anybody to embark on this programme, which can be done at any stage in your team’s lifecycle.

As a middle or senior manager, you may think that you already have the necessary knowledge and experience and you know what is best. But it is very, very helpful to have support to lead you through such a programme and help you take the very the best from it.

Different elements of the programme will resonate more strongly with people, but as a team, we have gained invaluable takeaways and made great strides forward.” He concludes.