Standard Bank

How we worked with Standard Bank to change the culture of conversation across the entire bank

South Africa, Africa, Isle of Man, Jersey

2-Day Programme

865 Delegates

In-Person and Virtual

100% Recommended to Colleagues

The Challenge

The challenge was to improve the quality of conversations at all levels right across the entire bank including 55k employees.

This meant adapting the work to cater for bankers serving in a branch to executives having critical strategic and performance conversations. The aim was to have an intervention that would transform culture.

The Solution

Standard Bank approached Key Steps to work with them and form part of the team responsible for this massive roll-out within the bank. The programme included pre-work, six conversation labs with resources to be explored and experiments to be completed between labs. Labs 1 to 4 were to be made available to everyone working in the bank. Labs 5 and 6 have a focus on performance management and taking a coaching approach and were specifically designed for employees in leadership roles or those being groomed for leadership roles.

Just as the programme was getting into full swing (about 2 months after testing, refining and official launching), Covid happened, and everything changed. The biggest challenge was adapting the intervention to achieve learning outcomes while being as experiential, practical and engaging. It was a significant task but, fortunately, when comparing the results achieved by the groups who attended in a physical room versus online, the results were on par.

5 Stars

High levels of success. Transformational!

Key Steps are professional, and always accountable, delivering to a very high standard. They hold invaluable interventions, end-to-end with such skill and care. Sharon has been instrumental in helping us design, refine and roll-out core programmes across the bank. I would choose her 1 000 times over for my challenging teams, or very senior leadership, because she’s so good at landing strategic messages and linking the behavioural work with the impact it has in the business. Our results with Sharon have been superb. We’ve had very high levels of success and the shifts have been transformational. It is rare to work with somebody who’s so highly professional and who has such a caring and human sense about them.

Nicola Varney, Learning Experience Designer, Standard Bank Group

10 out of 10 - insightful, pragmatic and memorable!

The session with Sharon was insightful, pragmatic and memorable. Everything from Sharon’s knowledge and expertise, to creating a safe space, to facilitating robust discussions was a 10 out of 10. You exceeded my expectations. Immense gratitude. We look forward to working with you again.

Funeka Montjane, CEO, Consumer & High Net Worth Clients, Standard Bank Group

This course was so valuable and very well facilitated!

Thank you, this course was so valuable and very well facilitated. I benefitted from the opportunity to reflect on how I can improve my effectiveness and contribution by being more deliberate in my communication and interactions with others. The opportunity to interact with colleagues I don’t regularly interact with was also very valuable.

Charles Molteno, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Bank Jersey Ltd

Sharon made everyone feel comfortable!

Thank you! I loved the way Sharon made everyone feel comfortable and expanded on everyone’s comments. It really encouraged me to contribute. And I learned from others on the course. I really appreciated Sharon’s obvious expertise and knowledge as well as her ability to share it so effectively.

Dave Griffiths, Operations Manager, Standard Bank Isle of Man

Stays with you and adds value in your day-to-day role!

Sharon is an expert in her field and her background adds great insight. I found the course very valuable, taking a deeper dive into the importance of communication is a huge factor on us being successful as leaders. She provides very interesting content, which is practical in real life situations. During the sessions we engaged deeply and had the opportunity to practise having difficult conversations. It is great when training stays with you and adds value in your day-to-day role. These classes should be conducted to all staff levels, driven from the top and throughout the entire business. We can all learn to communicate more effectively.

Kyle Wheeler, Business Development Manager – Europe, Standard Bank Isle of Man

The Results

The results have far exceeded expectations and across the bank, the feedback has been exceptional.

The quality of conversations has shifted dramatically. People really listen to each, show empathy and give direct feedback while honouring psychological safety. Leaders are continually telling stories during the sessions we run and reporting that engagement is up, people are holding themselves more accountable and getting better results. We continually here that the sessions are phenomenal and transformational because the tools are implemented immediately, and the learning pathway reinforces key concepts throughout the journey.

The roll-out is still in progress and will be for another 24-36 months. Following ‘completion’, ongoing sessions will be held for new employees joining the bank.

The Feedback

Across 1550 survey responses to-date, the learning experience is rated extremely favourably.


Facilitator’s knowledge


Content relevant and practical


Engaging climate of participation


More meaningful conversations


Listening, empathy and curiosity came to the fore.


Increased intent and more purposeful communication.


Leaders noticed that team members were contributing more and taking ownership.


Ranked the number one bank in Africa.


Sharon is a brilliant subject matter expert and runs her sessions with great passion!

Dr Sharon facilitated a Leadership and Culture program for us, and I happened to sit in 2 sessions a year apart. I was highly impressed by her consistent professional delivery of the programme. Sharon delivered both interventions on an online platform; kept me and my colleagues engaged. The tools were just efficient, easy to use and was kept active throughout the sessions. We were most comfortable to open up, learn and actively participate in the development of all. She is a brilliant subject matter expert and runs her sessions with great passion. It’s so humbling, and inspiring. Thank you, Dr Sharon, for your generosity in sharing expertise and wisdom with us. Much appreciated.

Nqaba Mntungwa​s

Manager: Provincial Client Experience, Standard Bank