Reimagining Leadership Development Through Coaching At Synlogic

In today’s rapidly evolving workplace, organizations like Synlogic, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company developing new medications for serious diseases including rare genetic disorders, recognize the importance of nurturing leadership potential to impact business outcomes.

Traditional executive coaching models have long been reserved for top-level executives due to their high costs, a mentality that is simply outdated. The new shift in leadership development encourages supporting managers at all levels – a change Synlogic embraced with open arms.  They recently harnessed the power of AceUp to develop a targeted leadership coaching program focused on helping middle managers to succeed in the new world of work.

“We started off with several high-potential leaders because we thought it would be a great investment for the whole organization – and it was well worth it,” said Adam Thomas, Chief People Officer.


Cost-Effective and Accessible Leadership Coaching

A recent survey from Future Forum found that 43% of middle managers are at high risk of burnout. At the same time, The Conference Board reports that quality of leadership is the top driver of employee satisfaction. Recognizing the massive impact front-line managers have on employee engagement, experience, and productivity, Synlogic decided to invest in their leadership training.

“The experience of any manager has a multiplier effect – they have a handful of direct reports, and how those direct reports experience the company comes down to how the manager behaves on a day-to-day basis,” said Thomas.

One of the key advantages of utilizing AceUp to bolster management ranks is that the solution is cost-effective. Executive coaching engagements often come with a hefty price tag, making them accessible only to a few select senior executives. Eager to upend the status quo, Synlogic jumped at the chance to democratize coaching. By opting for a more cost-effective, scalable solution like AceUp, the company was able to provide leadership development to individuals who showed high potential but may not have had access to such opportunities based on budgetary constraints alone.

Supporting Transition and Growth

At the outset of the engagement, Synlogic identified a few managers within their nimble team who were undergoing a transitional phase in their careers and showed untapped leadership potential. By enrolling them in the individual coaching program, Synlogic aimed to provide support during this crucial period and facilitate their growth as emerging leaders. 

As the program progressed, Synlogic continued to selectively cycle through new managers, handpicking employees who displayed promise and investment potential. This targeted approach allowed the company to allocate coaching resources where they would have the most impact, especially for their close-knit community.

Notes Thomas “Since we started working with AceUp on coaching, Synlogic has made tremendous progress, with multiple of our investigational drugs successfully advancing into and through clinical trials. There is no question that our ability to progress these potential medicines was related to our team’s own development and skills as managers and leaders aided by AceUp.”


Effective Matching and Individualized Coaching

AceUp’s coach-matching process played a pivotal role in ensuring a successful experience for coachees. Using a personalized approach, the platform allows coachees to interview and choose their coach from their top two matches based on their growth and development goals. The resounding positive feedback from coachees shows the effectiveness of immediate value they provided.

“Identifying my areas for further development and being able to select the right coach that could help further my growth and provide support in those areas was a valuable component of the program.” said Vasu Sethuraman, Synlogic’s Head of Boiprocess Development and Formulation.


Enhancing Leadership Skills through the Multiplier Effect

Leadership coaching, especially during periods of significant change, offers a valuable sounding board for managers and leaders. The COVID-19 pandemic presented unparalleled challenges, with managers having to navigate remote work, hybrid models, and personal hardships simultaneously. Synlogic recognized the importance of supporting their leaders during this difficult time and provided a safe space for managers to discuss and solve problems, share experiences, and gain new perspectives. The coaching process helped hone their skills, enhance their leadership capabilities, and adapt to evolving business landscapes.

“I lost count of the number of times that I’ve been in a meeting with somebody who’s part of the coaching program, and they would say things like, ‘Oh, I discussed this with my coach,’ or ‘I was going to discuss this with my coach.’ It became part of the way they were figuring things out and solving problems,” said Thomas.

The impacts of the coaching program were immense – with 77% of the coachees being promoted during their coaching engagement. They also left the program with improved essential skills, such as problem-solving, communication, and decision-making, necessary for managing and motivating their teams. Coachees saw an 11 percent average improvement in the competency of “Managing conflicts and difficult conversations” and a 17.5 percent average improvement in the competency of “Facilitating Effective Change Management.” Additionally, coaching served as a complementary resource to Synlogic’s internal development initiatives, offering support and expertise.

”The program helped me improve ways that I handle adversity whether in the form of dealing with difficult technical challenges, or managing conflicts. I am now more capable of facing the adversity head on rather than steering away from it.” noted Sethuraman.

Synlogic’s targeted and customized leadership development program has revolutionized the way coaching is approached within the company – to much success. Employee sentiment highlights positive outcomes across the company’s culture through career growth and  mastering core competencies. What’s more, the program has enabled employees to make significant progress towards their goals of advancing new investigative medicines through to clinical trials. 

By adopting an affordable and accessible coaching model, the results continue to spread throughout the organization, creating a multiplier effect that amplifies the benefits of leadership development and lays the foundation for organizational success.

At AceUp, we are proud to partner with Synlogic as their preferred coaching vendor. To learn more about their organization and how they are making an impact, follow Synlogic on LinkedIn.

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