Our client is a supplier to food and beverages manufacturers. They operate in a very competitive market where customer responsiveness, innovation and staying ahead of the competition are major drivers.
Squeezed between raw materials suppliers pressing for price increases, and powerful retailers searching for cost reductions from manufacturers, our client was operating in a tough business environment.
The client could not achieve their growth ambitions simply by continuing to operate in the way that had made them successful in the past. Historically the directors had tended to make not only all of the strategic decisions, but also most of the key operational decisions. This meant that in effect the company’s ability to grow was constrained by a blockage in the leadership pipeline. The issue for directors was very clear; the next layer of senior managers needed to move to a new level and share more responsibility for leading the business. This would free up the directors to focus their efforts on new business opportunities, organisational development and growth strategies. Whilst senior managers expressed real enthusiasm for this shift, they also felt that their current efforts to step-up tended to be negated by the directors’ (unacknowledged) preference for being involved in day-to-day operational decisions. Mmm! Catch 22.
Morgan Clarke’s Approach
We could see the need to instigate a process to change the relationship between directors and senior managers. We addressed this critical business requirement with a development approach which operated at two levels:
- Skills – developing the commercial acumen, leadership behaviours and business skills of the senior managers so that they were equipped to take on broader and deeper roles, whilst at the same time improving the coaching and mentoring skills of the directors so that they could facilitate the process
- Behaviour – addressing ingrained behaviour patterns that mitigated against change and tended to maintain the status quo
We worked with the directors to explore what new or different behaviours they needed from the senior managers in order to make progress. In parallel we asked the senior managers what behaviours they needed from the directors to allow them to play a bigger role. Later, these behaviours were consolidated into a 360° questionnaire and feedback process that enabled all parties to understand how their current behaviour was perceived and to what extent progress was being made. As with most change initiatives we hit resistance at first, before the value of the process was perceived, accepted and then embraced by all.
For both the skills and behavioural development we employed a blended approach from our Learning Mix™ of self-directed learning, commercially-focused modular workshops, coaching and business improvement projects. A series of short, bespoke workshops were held for the directors, combined with coaching sessions, to help them grow in role be less ‘hands-on’ and facilitate change.
What is Achieved
- We received excellent feedback from both participants and sponsoring directors, attesting to the quality of our content, exceptional facilitation skills and having been recognised as the catalyst for essential and transformational organisational change
- The gap between director and senior manager capability significantly reduced and continued to close over time, creating the conditions for future prosperity
- Participants assumed full ownership and leadership responsibility for their own business or function
- A business return on investment (payback on the commercial leadership development programme was achieved through the business projects alone)
- Increased sales revenues and improved pre-tax profits