How National Grid pioneered a new way of driving cultural change to increase mental fitness and reduce burnout


In 2020, Catherine Schlieben, Group Head of Talent at National Grid (NG), pioneered a new way of driving cultural change. Through a partnership with Untapped.AI, the talent team evolved the company culture to one of accountability, results and performance. The team’s remit was to accelerate this change through delivering a coaching programme to 1,000 Leaders.

This was an ambitious journey as it was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, National Grid’s Networked Coaching programme has benefitted National Grid Leaders with engagement of 92% and a Net Promoter Score of 9.2.  There has been a “significant ripple effect” throughout National Grid. 2021 also saw the rollout of the Untapped AI ‘Embed’ extension, which enabled Senior Leaders to continue using the platform for an additional year.

 “The programme has significantly helped Senior Leaders navigate through the change.” Catherine Schlieben (Group Head of Talent) 

  • Engagement: 87% of users expressed feeling more engaged with work 

Delivering Impact at National Grid 

Mental Fitness and Reducing Burnout 

In the midst of a global pandemic, many users on the platform understandably felt anxious and worried – these feelings can often be precursors to burnout.

“Untapped AI has helped pull me back from the brink of burnout and build my resilience.”

Overall users experienced a 20% increase in wellbeing and a 17% reduction of burnout as a result of Untapped AI.   National Grid also offered an external safe psychological space which helped those using the platform expand their resilience and capacity to thrive.

Research shows us that people who care about what they do, and who are more personally invested in their role, are at higher risk of burnout.   By offering Untapped AI, National Grid supported people in their efforts to care about the quality of their work whilst also preventing burnout.

“ I feel reinvigorated, and I am passing this onto my team”

Increased Leadership EQ 

“Having the space to reconnect to my values and purpose allowed me to create a culture where my team felt safe enough to open up about their differences.”

Overall users experienced a doubling of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) leadership capacity and a 75% reduction in binary thinking (IQ means there is always a right answer!).

Emotional intelligence (EQ) proved to be essential to the targets which National Grid set out to achieve. By working with National Grid’s Group Executive Committee and Senior Leadership Group, our data showed that IQ was valued significantly more than EQ.  Over time, we worked with leaders to both see the value and develop their EQ capability. There was an emergence of a new type of EQ leadership which focused more on “servant leadership” that was recognised and appreciated by Leaders and their teams.

Results and Accountability 

“I feel more empowered and want to take more accountability for myself”

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 67% of leaders felt more empowered to make decisions. 54% felt they were taking up more authority. It’s the combination of these things that led to greater accountability and making results happen. 

The Untapped programme enabled a shift to a more results-oriented culture.  Users noticed an increased capacity to act, leading to improved accountability. Increasing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) also increased connection with customers.  Users report that shifting the focus to the customer has “made all the difference”.  They talk to customers with pride about Grid’s purpose and are more honest.

82% of users reported an increase in capacity to recognise and notice where people are doing things well – sharing the credit.

Untapped AI is a leader in digital coaching. Their digital Networked Coaching™ is powered by self-awareness AI and together this speeds up everyone’s simultaneous coaching experience to make positive change across the organisation.

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About the authors:

Catherine Schlieben joined National Grid in early 2020 to lead the talent and leadership development team. She now has responsibility for the strategy across talent acquisition, talent development, defining leadership behaviours and capabilities and is the Chief People Officer for NGV.

Prior to National Grid, Catherine held a global HR leadership role for one of the world’s leading payment companies, Worldpay Inc. Further back in her career, Catherine has worked in leadership roles in ITV and various privately-owned search firms and consultancies.

Kendal Parmar is the CEO and Co Founder of Untapped AI. She  started her career in Clinical Psychology, eventually taking up the role of Director of People at Airmiles.  She was struck by the need to reimagine what culture means at work which led her to create the methodology behind The Sunday Times “Best Companies to Work For” list.

Kendal believes that “Culture is the hardest thing of all to build but is precisely wha’is behind any successful company.”  Untapped AI, a digital coaching company was founded based on these ideals.  Untapped AI’s business is solely about helping companies make organisational culture shifts.  Powered by Self-Awareness AI, difficult conversations happen early in the coaching journey and leaders are factored into an accountability loop to ensure change happens systemically.

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