Case Study 4:
New ways of working to support business growth

The company employed about 350 staff and had a strategy for rapid growth in order to meet the expectations of shareholders. The Executive recognised that the company faced powerful competitors with far greater resources at their disposal, and as such they needed to maximise their ability to be responsive to customer needs by having a committed and flexible workforce. One major block to this new way of working was that the management style had traditionally been autocratic and controlling: managers and staff were used to being told what to do, rather than taking responsibility for decision making within their own role.

Our role was to help the management to develop a coaching style that encouraged job ownership, ensured accountability, and provided support as well as opportunities for training and development. However, this also had to be balanced with senior management concerns about loss of control, as the organisation was very results driven.

We facilitated and coached the Executive as they debated and then gradually introduced a range of new management policies and practises. These included performance management, identifying training needs, recruitment, induction, team briefings, personnel board meetings, and regular consultative meetings with employee representatives. A management development programme was established to coach the Executive, managers and supervisors on the process of performance management: they learned to conduct regular performance review discussions; they developed interpersonal skills such as asking questions, listening, giving and receiving feedback.

In a pre-assessment for Investors In People, there was considerable feedback from interviewees that the company was a very different place to work compared to two years ago. Staff are better informed, more focused, have greater responsibility and autonomy within their own role, and are more able to influence the way strategic initiatives are implemented. The organisation and has achieved growth targets with financial results outperforming the sector.

Employees learned how to express their views and concerns and how to contribute ideas to constructively influence decision-making.