Creating a tailored ‘MBA style’ programme to support manager and leader development


Improving mangers' capabilities and enhancing the culture


Support manager development to drive business growth

To be able to attract and retain top talent, Gatehouse Bank (GHB) needed a fresh and progressive approach to manager/leadership development. This would enable them to: compete for the best talent, help existing managerial talent to excel, support a culture of feedback and growth and ensure that the business thrives and achieves its strategic ambitions.

GHB’s line manager population of 50 is largely made up of individuals with less than 3 years’ service, many of whom were taking on a management role for the first time, so this was a unique and exciting opportunity for them. In exploring the ‘current state’, the then Head of HR identified that just 30% - 50% of this population were where the Bank aspired for them to be from a skills/knowledge perspective. The opportunity for both personal and business growth was therefore significant and clear.

Their CEO, Charles Haresnape, recognised that top quality first line management is critical to the culture of an organisation. He believed that this would support increased engagement and deliver efficiencies. The Bank’s Board of Directors also agreed that line managers play a critical role in the culture and success of the organisation. Both were key supporters of this programme.


Creating a tailored ‘MBA style’ programme

With great people in place, GHB wanted to increase organisational growth and positively impact on the bottom line whilst also building a culture of feedback and growth with a leading development proposition. We worked closely with them, supporting a redesign of the existing behavioural framework, which reset expectations and gave a much clearer framework against which to build content.

ETS recommended creating an ‘MBA style’ programme, which would be delivered to the 50 managers over six to nine months. This used our ‘Make it Stick’ methodology as a foundation, with training led by an ETS Senior Consultant.

The course content was informed by several sources, including: an upfront 360 feedback exercise, interviews and focus groups with line managers, interviews with the CEO and Board members, and input from GHB’s Head of HR/Talent and Development Partner.

A bespoke 360 feedback exercise provided an invaluable baseline measure for delegates, who received 1:1 coaching to understand and make sense of their reports. It also provided an aggregated view of the group’s shared strengths and areas for development.

Meanwhile, the project team also regrouped after each module to reflect. We initially created a skeleton outline of the whole programme but purposefully designed content for one module at a time so that subsequent modules could be shaped by learnings and feedback from the previous module.  This process allowed it to evolve and form in line with business and delegate needs.

In between modules, Action Learning Groups were established so delegates could discuss and practice learnings in everyday scenarios.


Our MDP has been an integral aspect in developing our culture and has undoubtedly enhanced our line managers’ competence, making us well-poised to move into the future and exceed our strategic business objectives.

Charles Haresnape, CEO

Assessing progress among managers and leaders

In the repeat 360 feedback exercises (for first line managers and leaders), we saw an increase in every competency measured (some increases as great as 13% points) reflecting a demonstrable change in behaviours observed by multiple sources feeding back on programme delegates.

Additionally, on the ‘manager readiness’ marker referenced as part of the challenge for GHB, the programme has proved integral to moving the dial on this key element. With only an estimated 30% - 50% of this population being where GHB wanted from a skills/knowledge perspective beforehand, they are now confident that the proportion is 70%-80%.

Joanna Collings, Chief People Officer, reflects on the behavioural shift she has observed:

“The programme has yielded some fantastic results, which I have witnessed first hand through a line manager population that is more open and transparent with one another. We have seen that line managers right across the business have built up their confidence, improved their communication skills, and have been implementing their learnings by constructively challenging and providing feedback.”

Business Impact

Since the MDP was launched, 30 colleagues have secured promotion, 14 of which were existing Line Managers.
This programme won Best Talent Management Initiative and highly commended Bespoke L&D Initiative at the ABP 2023 Awards
Business performance has been strong with GHB's latest annual report revealing a year-on-year increase of 30% in the value of their total balance sheet assets.