Combat Air Product Support, BAE

Combat Air Product Support, BAE

July 31st, 2017

How we helped BAE’s Combat Air Product Support department empower its Managers to think differently about how they lead their teams, to allow everyone to contribute more to the success of the business.

The Challenge

The Combat Air Product Support department within BAE had a challenge.  They recognised that some of their key technical managers, whilst they may excel in their own scientific discipline, needed support in becoming better people managers.  They wanted to enable their managers to think differently about how they lead their teams to allow everyone to contribute to the team’s success. This is important because how managers think, feel and act directly impacts on how their team contributes to the overall business. Combat Air invited Treehouse to work with them, to introduce the concept of Managing Contribution, a programme which empowers Managers to manage people on what they do and how they do it, rather than solely on their performance; their productivity or ability to meet targets.

Concentrating on the difference a person makes to a business, rather than their performance, brings significant and sustained benefits to both the individual and the team as well as increasing the amount of contribution a department or team makes towards achieving a company’s vision, mission and goals.  BAE wants to move towards being a more service orientated company, delivering brilliantly every time for their customers, and so by inviting people to make a valuable contribution towards this vision, this goal will ultimately be achieved.  How do you do this? Introduce the value of Managing Contribution.

What We Did

Treehouse partners held an introductory workshop with senior managers to build a talent map across the whole Combat Air team.  This involved landscaping the talents of all managers in detail and discussing who would gain the most benefit out of the programme’s developmental approach.

26 chosen managers were then invited to attend a ‘kick off’ workshop and introduced to the concepts of Managing Contribution; the Contribution Curve, which is a method of monitoring and recording an individual’s progress as they move up the five levels of contribution management from ‘reacting’ to ‘leading’, and an explanation of how the programme works.

In the first workshop, delegates completed self-assessments containing critical management markers to identify where they sat on the Contribution Curve and determine their key objectives.  Most delegates found they were in ‘reacting’. They also took part in a process to match them with a highly skilled Treehouse coach most suited to their needs. Together with their coach, delegates drew up a Contribution Transition Plan which set out their goals and the action required to meet those goals.

Managers learned new methods of working through a series of facilitated workshops. A series of weekly, fortnightly and monthly individual Contribution coaching sessions over the phone helped managers apply what they’d learned in workshop in a way that was relevant to them at work. The delegates formed a strong relationship with their coach who supported them to deal with day to day struggles, helping them to monitor their own progress and development up the Contribution Curve.

Workshops were held on specific topics and were adapted to deal with issues that came up from individual coaching sessions.  These included:

  • Knowing and communicating with your people
  • Time & priority management
  • Engaging and developing your people
  • Influencing without authority
  • Coaching for performance
  • Customer service

The Result

At the start of the programme, 26 managers averaged 1.9 on the Contribution Curve, between reacting and controlling. 12 months later the average figure was 3.8.  The results are measured on a 5 point scale, 3.8 is nearly at Facilitating. By the end of the programme all Managers had moved up their Contribution Curve with some recording significant improvement from ‘Reacting’ to ‘Directing’ and ‘Facilitating’.  All were fully engaged and committed to the process and learnt to be less involved in technical delivery and more supportive in helping their teams deliver and think for themselves.

What the delegates thought

“We have improved performance and customer service and this programme has definitely contributed to that.”  Kevin

 “I feel good – having your thoughts joined up is like a shot in the arm.”  John G

 “The programme has been a ‘wake up call’ for me in terms of teaching me how I should perform my duties as a manager.” Joyce

“The programme has given me an insight into myself and challenged the way I manage, influence and communicate with people for the better.” Richard

“Provided a clear framework to understand my contribution and that of my team, and tools to review and improve.” Paul

It has identified or confirmed ‘non-managers’, has helped with stress levels and the independent contribution coaching is a powerful technique to help you challenge yourself.”   Dave Ellison

What does a typical programme look like?

A typical programme comprises:

1. Personal 1:1 Contribution coaching with an independent, highly-skilled Treehouse Coach to help people move up their Contribution Curves and make more difference to the business.

2. Three or more workshops such as; Introduction to Contribution, Creating a Compelling Vision & Mission, Planning and Prioritising your Time, Coaching and having Fierce Conversations, Networking and Managing your Reputation and a Final Springboard workshop – to put in place the right conditions for everyone to develop and grow.

3. Discussion forums moderated by Treehouse, generally held once a month on a relevant topic at that time, usually held as a Skype call. This enables your people to share common issues and together figure out what works best.

4. E-learning for the wider team (including suppliers, customers and other stakeholders for whom you think it could add value) – a simple introduction to Managing Contribution to enable the wider team to understand the new language and play their part.

 Don’t take our word for it

We interviewed Dawn Bennion, one of the Combat Air Product Support Department’s managers, to find out her thoughts on the Managing Contribution programme.


Interested in finding out more about Managing Contribution?  You can find the training programme on Success Factors, simply search for course ID number 12823.  Or contact Helen Westendorp at Treehouse on or visit