I work with each client to create strategic solutions which means each project is unique. The only constant is the process: contract-diagnose-deliver. Here I have summarised some recent projects to give a flavour of the sort of thing I can do:
The people keeping us safe are often lowly paid and we expect them to remain alert for signs of a security problem even though these are so rare, they may never be experienced in an entire career. The project was to investigate the best ways these vital but often neglected people could be motivated to be 100% alert all the time. Solutions were to empower managers to provide personal leadership even within strict operating protocols.
Major reorganisations nationally had led to an entire generation of mid-ranking civil servants being starved of leadership training. Working with a team across university and private sectors, we designed and delivered a very large scale programme to enable leaders to create their own models of leadership focussing first on themselves, then their team and finally how they could influence the organisation as a whole. We were able to facilitate spectacular results across departments with significant productivity gains and created major innovations and culture changes.
Career turning point
Having recently completed her MBA, this manager realised that her current employer was not receptive to the new ideas she had been immersed in during her studies. She could see changes were needed in the business but couldn’t find ways to persuade the CEO to be open to them. We first explored influence tactics such as identifying the stakeholders and mapped out who might be supportive of the changes. We also worked on understanding the point of view of the CEO and how she might take a different approach to the ones that had failed so far. By creating a groundswell of positivity towards change, she was able to persuade the CEO to explore some of the ideas she had. Eventually this was successful – so much so she was head-hunted to a different business which was far more fulfilling.
New Line Manager
Having forged a successful career based on his technical engineering expertise, I was approached to assist this highly talented individual as he moved across into a more generalist role in a global business. He had to unlearn his previous influence approach which was using his technical reputation as the basis for issuing orders. Over time we explored how people were motivated in different ways and how others might have different priorities. We explored his leadership style, what he could leverage and where he could develop. Shortly after we finished our last session, he was promoted again and is enjoying his new career in the same business.
A small but crucial department in a public sector organisation had been underperforming for years under a manager who had lost his way. He was moved on and a new, dynamic but inexperienced manager was brought in. He was given a great deal of high level support but needed additional help in dealing with the aftermath of redundancies and some remaining (underperforming) staff. He was talented but faced with significant morale and performance issues with a small number of staff. I was asked to support him through this period. We discussed ways of understanding the viewpoint of the remaining staff and work out how to prevent their negative attitude transferring to new staff. We worked on how to be understanding but also how to be firm about the changes.
Executive team – major plc
The business was approaching a crucial phase – would be be bought by the management or sold. My role was to facilitate the team towards this huge decision. I observed the team working through some of the issues and provide them with ideas about how they might work together better. I could see some behaviours of the CEO in the meeting were stifling contributions from some members of the Board. Also the structure of the meetings was also limiting some contributions. I worked with them to create a Team Charter with a set of simple guidelines about the meetings which they agreed to abide by. They reported more impactful meetings and were able to work through this major issue more effectively.
Call centre – financial services
The manager of this large call centre was concerned that their performance was flatlining and brought me in to assess how they could improve on quality of service and also increase productivity. I spent some time with staff observing calls, meeting staff and discussing with teams. It became clear that whilst they were notionally organised in teams, the reward system of bonuses – very important to staff – was only awarded on an individual basis. this meant that it was actively against the high performers personal interests to help anyone else in their team. In fact the high performers didn’t want to speak to me as it would reduce time on the phone and therefore their income. And also they didn’t want to share their secrets. My recommendation was that the bonus scheme be re-structured to include a team element and that this was created against an absolute performance level rather than competing with other teams. The business also followed my recommendation of having team meetings factored in to their working day – previously meetings had been in staff’s own time. The centre was able to make an immediate step change in performance both in terms of quality of their work and the number of calls processed.
Factory production line
A large chemicals business was introducing new technology and plant for the first time in years so needed more flexibility from their production line workers. They had reorganised into a team structure and I was contracted to help the teams discover problem solving skills that had been discouraged in the past. I worked with management and unions to design a team based problem solving programme that the whole organisation would go through. We rolled out the programme from the shop floor to the boardroom. The result was significant cross-business efficiencies and substantial increases in employee engagement.