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Case Studies – successful business

successful business

Working to sustain successful business

I am at the service of any business or organisation that wants to grow and improve, sees the need for expert outside help and is prepared to invest in that help.

I have acted as business counsellor to the full spectrum of organisations.  From small businesses in distress to large national charities seeking to consolidate, I have a record of achievement to ensure your business success.

Looking back while writing these case studies, something struck me.  It was how many medium-sized firms there are which aren’t exactly struggling, they just want to stop firefighting, add some structure and thinking time, and prove to themselves and to the outside world what a successful business they are.

These are very short stories which I hope you will find as inspiring to read as I did to be a part of.

About Me – business consultant

Bristol business consultant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What sets me apart as a business consultant ?

Many people are afraid a business consultant will come in, start questioning the leadership, telling them what is good for them and asking awkward questions.  I listen to understand and adopt a fresh approach.  I have conversations with as many people as possible and wait until I have a complete picture before fearlessly challenging current practice.

I facilitate team events and deliver strategy and change consulting, business performance coaching, management and personal skills training and Investors In People advice.  I am also an expert practitioner for the Health and Wellbeing Award.

My main message is about the power of empathy and humility.  I have transformed the performance of dozens of organisations.  Acting as their business consultant, I get them to arrive at solutions to the people problems that come from growing teams.  I am fascinated by working cultures and want to make a positive difference by sharing my experience of how change can influence the way people behave.

Some clients ask me to act as Non-executive Director or Trustee.  This is so I can contribute to creating a culture of responsibility in which people are not bothering the owner manager with every small question.  People start to really care whether the organisation succeeds, and to assume accountability themselves.  This frees up Directors to do the jobs they are there for.

I am a member of the Employee Ownership Association.  My experience with organisational change  helps my clients achieve the shift in culture necessary for this to work as an exit planning option.

At school and university I specialised in languages; the main thrust of my professional development has been as facilitator and business consultant.  I have enjoyed successful spells in general management, training, quality, network development and customer service.

I am a qualified trainer and have been a licensed Investors In People specialist and national level Business Excellence Award assessor.

Business coaching

My clients range across a wide variety of sectors.  Current clients include a valve maufacturer in Wiltshire, a marine engineer in Weymouth, a charity for people with learning disabilities in Bristol and an engineering firm in Bristol.  Many of my client relationships have lasted over ten years.  I have over twenty years of experience with Investors in People and continuous improvement, using a large kitbag of tools and techniques to help my clients improve their business results.

I am Director of the employee owned trust at KB2 Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers.

Previous roles include managing major improvement programmes at NatWest, setting up the local service provider network at Business Link Somerset, General Manager of Excellence South West for two years of its infancy, business consultant at PES  and adviser to small businesses at Business West.

I have built up an extensive network of contacts for the sharing of learning and expertise.  My main background and passion is facilitation aimed at helping senior managers to gain insight for themselves and their people to achieve better business performance.

Happiness and Motivation – Managing people

This interactive workshop provides an opportunity for delegates to explore the challenges they face when motivating themselves and their team members. They will share these challenges and learn from each other in a safe, energising and fun environment. They will come away with tips and techniques to practice in the workplace, giving them happiness and fulfilment in their role.

Learning Aims

By the end of the workshop, delegates will be able to :

  • motivate themselves and their team effectively
  • build better relationships with other teams across their business
  • demonstrate a range of personal skills in managing people, to get the best out of their team members

For Whom

This session is designed for anyone who is interested in developing or refreshing their understanding of why it is that they themselves, and other people, usually aim to do a good job. It is a good eye-opener for people looking for greater motivation in their own role.  It is also for team leaders who have been managing people for a while and are looking for new ways of thinking to help them motivate others.

Content – Managing People

  • The philosophy and science of happiness
  • What makes us happy ?
  • Levels of happiness
  • Self awareness exercise : Career motivations
  • Understanding motivation – “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” factors
  • Empathy and sympathy
  • Helping people to feel valued
  • The real meaning of empowerment
  • What this means for managing people in practice

Righting Wrongs – complaint handling training

Turning complaints into business opportunities

However talented they are, sometimes customer service professionals find that things can inevitably go wrong.  They need a chance to stop and think through what they can do differently to provide an even better service to customers.  They need techniques for responding to people who express dissatisfaction in a way that helps both parties feel there has been a more than satisfactory resolution.  Starting with some self-awareness work, delegates will work on self control, enabling them to ease the fevered environment on the team and further improve the quality of the service they provide.  This practical complaint handling training aims to provide a supportive group ambience for agreeing and practising helpful skills.

Learning Aims

By the end of the workshop, delegates will be able to :

  • describe what needs to happen to manage personal confidence and impact successfully
  • demonstrate  relevant skills to enable them to deal with difficult situations and reduce stress for themselves and fellow team members while doing so
  • agree consistent standards for dealing with difficult people and situations
  • respond to customer complaints in a professional way that promotes a positive image of the business consistent with its brand

For Whom

This workshop provides complaint handling training for anyone who deals with customers as part of their job and has to cope with a commercial environment in which rising (and sometimes unreasonable) customer expectations are becoming the norm.  It has been created either to act as a standalone for people who find that meeting these customer expectations is becoming more stressful, or to complement any previous or existing customer care training.

Content – complaint handling training

  • Review of past experiences :  what happened, what was the result, how did we feel
  • Self awareness exercise :  boosting our own confidence
  • Managing our emotions and staying in control in stressful situations
  • Difficult situations :  defence mechanisms and barriers to a positive resolution
  • Taking the HEAT
  • Directing the conversation
  • Strategies for responding to difficult individuals and conflict
  • Providing mutual support within the team
  • Managing expectations and making it easier to keep promises
  • Practical exercise based on real scenarios
  • Strategies for responding to unreasonable requests
  • Following up in writing

The Secrets of Successful Teams – Team Skills

This interactive session allows delegates to further explore some key aspects of their role within a team. It provides an opportunity for some deeper reflection on how human beings interact with each other.  This enables delegates to decide on any changes they want to make based on real insight. In a facilitated environment, most of the learning is done by increasing self-awareness and developing empathy for others.

Learning Aims

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to :

  • explain their preferred working style and their understanding of the preferred working style of other people
  • describe the reasons why certain people within a team may get on well or not so well together
  • demonstrate some additional techniques to get the best out of themselves and every team member

For Whom

This session is designed for anyone who wishes to develop or refine the skills needed for either performing well within a team or for managing a high-performing team. It is a refreshing thought-provoker both for people who have been part of a settled team for a while and for those who have recently joined a new team.

Content – Team Skills

    • Pre-session work : Team skills self awareness questionnaire
    • Characteristics of successful and unsuccessful teams
    • Individual working styles
    • How different working styles interact
    • The success trap
    • Tactics for overcoming conflict within teams
    • Harnessing the power of team skills – strength in diversity
    • The power of positive thinking, an inspirational vision and goals
    • The real meaning of assertiveness

Developing Your Team Leadership Skills

This interactive session allows team leaders and line managers to further explore aspects of their role as a leader and role model. It builds on the basics covered in any previous management training to add some deeper reflection on developing people, managing change and improving personal impact. In a facilitated environment, most of the learning is done by sharing real experience in the workplace and learning as much from the group about team leadership as from the trainer.

Learning Aims

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to :

  • explain some techniques to manage and motivate themselves effectively
  • describe the influence which further improving personal impact and communication skills has on projecting a professional image to team members and customers
  • demonstrate a range of team leadership skills to get the best out of every team member

For Whom

This workshop is designed for anyone who is in charge of a team and wishes to develop or refine the team leadership skills needed for the people management side of their role. It is a refreshing thought-provoker for those who have been managing people for a while.

Content – Team Leadership Skills

  • Self-awareness exercise : learning styles
  • Applying knowledge of learning styles to the people you manage
  • Sources of power and authority
  • Inspiring your team through the power of positive thinking
  • Showing trust and respect as steps to successful delegation
  • Personal presentation – your image at work
  • Controlling your voice, body and brain under pressure
  • Understanding the impact of change on individuals and helping them to cope
  • Improving personal impact and effectiveness
  • Developing toughness : staying in control and making decisions in fast-moving situations

Isn’t it just common sense? – the Investors in People Standard

investors in people standard

This fast-paced intensive but fun and practical workshop demonstrates the principles and practice that underpin the Investors in People Standard.  It explains how it can be applied to any business at any time to help drive and deliver success.  The workshop uses the specific issues and challenges brought by participants or their organisations as a basis.  In doing so it aims to provide a clear and useable action plan for each participant whilst simultaneously demonstrating the key principles that underline successful business practice.

Don’t Just Survive, Thrive!

The workshop aims to be inspirational as well as to provide a rare and welcome chance to get some peace and do some straightfoward thinking about how to move your organisation forward.  It does this by adopting a fresh approach to the subject.  Rather than describing the elements of the Standard itself, it uses the principles to generate valuable insights and create practical solutions to real business issues.  There is always a lot of laughter in the group as they share experience and realise they are not alone in seeking common sense answers to business problems.

Learning Aims

To explain the principles that underpin the Investors in People standard and explore how they can be applied to real life situations to help deliver business success.  To come away with a simple action plan to be implemented back in the workplace.

For Whom

This workshop is designed for business owner managers looking to gain a greater understanding of the Investors in People Standard.  Anyone would gain who wishes to learn about the benefits and the process, without necessarily having to commit to the financial and time burdens that formal accreditation imposes.

Content – The Investors in People Standard

  • The Power of Goals
  • The Importance Of Setting SMART objectives
  • Keeping On Track
  • Developing Staff For Measurable Business Payback
  • Creating A Happy Team
  • Action Planning For Business Improvement

What I offer

Management skills – my range of services

management skills

Consultation visit – no charge

I will come to your place of business to get to know you, find out what’s going well and not so well and listen carefully to your ideas.  I set no time limit on this and I make no charge.  I then go away and prepare a crystal-clear proposal based on your requirements.  It will outline what I will do for you, how I think we can address any management skills issues appropriately and how much it will cost.  The proposal acts as a starter for ten in our further discussions.

Leaving A Business Legacy

I provide a lot of support to owner managers who wish to gradually exit from day-to-day involvement in their business and would like to see it continue as a healthy going concern.  An increasingly popular route is via employee ownership, whereby they sell the business to the employees on e.g. a ten-year loan (“deferred consideration”), which is very tax-efficient from both standpoints.  Where I come in is in educating the employees and future leaders in the commercial acumen and business skills they need to take the reins.  There are significant cultural changes that need to happen to make sure the transition works.  I facilitate these, and act as a Trustee to make sure the Directors in the new structure are accountable and that governance is sound.

More information is at http://employeeownership.co.uk/about-the-employee-ownership-association/

So, if succession planning or exit planning has been on your radar for a while and you would like a no-obligation chat to get things moving, I would love to hear from you.

Developing Your Organisation

Planning a change ?  See the need for a shake-up but want to make sure it works ?  Wondering what to do about your working culture ?  I have coached over 300 clients in thinking through what they need to do.  I’ve seen a few of them tumble into huge traps, and a great many others show how good they are.  I can share these experiences and this insight with you in review and action planning meetings either one-to-one, with senior management teams or with dedicated project teams.

Through carefully-planned workshops and events, I facilitate discussions to agree what the values of the tean are, and the practical behaviours to support these values.  I get key individuals to express their commitment to these.  Beacause the values come from the words used by the team itself, they carry a great deal more weight than the normal values statements seen on the walls of many corporate offices.

I have successfully completed major projects to overhaul appraisal systems and introduce 360 degree feedback systems.  I have adapted these methods to create simple, straightforward versions for smaller organisations.

With my experience of representative groups such as Works Councils, many clients have benefited from using me as independent facilitator when such groups meet either for the first time, when there’s a major change or when they are taking on a major cultural project.

Troubleshooting / Counselling

What a lot of my clients seem to appreciate particularly is my expertise when human relationships run into difficulties.  Key people not talking to each other, conflict in the workplace, jealousies or “silo thinking”, these are all problems I have taken on gently but fearlessly, and with positive outcomes.

Testing The Culture

If your business proclaims its quality, service, excellence or being the best, you really should have a way of proving that you are at least moving in the right direction.  To your clients and your employees, when thinking about how happy they are with you, reality is nothing; perception is everything.  Before planning any change, get an independent specialist to gain real insight into what they are really thinking.

There are many ways to test perceptions, chief among which are one-to-ones, focus groups and questionnaires.  We will agree in advance which combination of these is right for you and I will set up everything that is needed.  The output is a report which we use as the basis for your culture change programme – with management skills training likely to be high on the agenda.

I am licensed to use a great bit of survey software that produces attractive, high-impact reports that really help management to decide on how they will respond.  This puts the spotlight on the managers’ role in the process of follow-up improvements.

Team-building events and outdoor activities

outdoor activities

When you’re trying to communicate an important message to your team, there’s no substitute for a get-together where people can speak up, get to know each other better and share views.  Also, the importance of sharing a meal together is not to be underestimated.  Arranging and facilitating one of these events involves more than you might think, so get an expert in.

Let me show you what can be achieved in just one day !  I am partnering with a really top class outdoor activities provider, so if you’re after a team awayday with added value that makes a big difference, I would love to talk to you.

I am a big believer in the power of laughter and physical activity, so I have a wide range of games and exercises which always generate a big buzz.  I am expert at extracting the So What For Our Business from these when the time comes for the group to reflect on the point of these activities.  The result is that no one leaves thinking that the event was Just A Jolly.

Management skills training

people skills training

Being a leader; managing people.  Not an aspect of the job that some people relish, but it is a skill that can be developed.  The bespoke in-house learning events which I design, deliver and evaluate for you are aimed at creating a relaxed, non-threatening environment which acknowledges the experience and existing management skills of the participants.  They are based on real issues that need to be fixed in the workplace, and focused on improving effectiveness.

If you are to motivate your people, you need to understand them, and if you are to understand others, you need to understand yourself.  That is why I use a wide range of simple self-awareness questionnaires that act as eye-openers for managers to gain insight on :

  • Leadership styles
  • Working styles
  • Career motivations
  • Sources of authority
  • Belbin team roles
  • Learning styles
  • Emotional intelligence

… and more

Developing Your People

I never expect anyone to come to me to be trained.  Instead, I will listen carefully to what you need and design a series of bespoke learning workshops for you.  You can have this delivered in house, and can be confident that it will be enjoyable, as my main belief with training is that it must be based on active fun.  See my Training page for a list of topics.  I also do one-to-one coaching.

I maintain a library of learning resources which acts as a toolbox we can dip into whenever appropriate.

Health and Wellbeing

You can find a full explanation at http://lancecross.co.uk/business-performance/health-and-wellbeing/.  This is a framework/standard I am accredited to use to carry out an assessment of all the activities an organisation offers to promote health and wellbeing in its workforce.  The output is a detailed report comparing these activities to best practice.  It is very valuable in gaining insight so my clients can keep improving.

Investors in People – Gaining the Standard

This proven management framework is now recognised as a business ‘superbrand’.  15,300 organisations in the UK are accredited Investors in People with many more working with the Standard.  Whether you choose to go for the Award or not, I will act as your no-nonsense guide as you follow the management disciplines the Standard sets out, focusing relentlessly on valuable insights and measurable gains for your business.  I have a 100% record – as a result of my advice and guidance, every client has gone on to successful accreditation.

Investors in People – Maintaining the Standard

If you already have the award, you may be wondering what next ?  The answer is plenty.  Winning the award is an early stage of your journey, and I will help you decide what to do to keep up the momentum as your business continues to improve, and make sure your good practice doesn’t slip between award assessments.

Investors in People – Raising the Standard

Investors in People

There is so much more to Investors in People than the core Standard.  The ‘Your Choice’ parts of the extended framework can be really illuminating if you want to be tested at a more advanced, more stretching level.  This is a chance to gain further insight and grasp hold of the practical meaning of areas like developing values, working together, different approaches to training and setting meaningful objectives.  If you are interested in Silver, Gold or Platinum accreditation, I have had a lot of success with helping clients to achieve this.

Mid-project review – no charge

Rather than press on with a set programme which was first agreed months ago, I will check with you that what I am doing for you still meets your needs.  I recognise the need to keep talking, adapt to circumstances and to make sure the work (for example, on management skills) is going in the right direction for your business and having the desired effect.  I will discuss with you successes and difficulties you are experiencing and make any necessary changes to the programme.  I make no charge for this visit.

Becoming a better employer makes success easier

business guru

Hi, I’m Lance and I care about making a difference.  I get my buzz from working with teams of people to improve their performance.  Businesses and not-for-profit organisations of all sorts benefit from working with me as their consultant, and consider me something of a business guru.  Recently I have achieved a lot with housing associations, builders, professional service firms, engineers and social care charities.

If you are a business owner/manager, it’s likely that what you have achieved is a success, and you deserve congratulations for that.  Your employees have increased in number, you have survived some tough times and you have become much smarter in the way you do things now.

‘So why do I need a business expert?’

The simple answer is :  to gain some powerful insight into how the way you do things compares to best practice.  Here are the questions you face:

  • How can you stop fighting fires, get more hands-off and  do what you had originally planned to do when you started ?
  • How do you reduce stress, look after strategy, get involved in the things you like doing and spend more time with your family ?
  • How do you sustain this for the future ?

The answer lies in thinking more deeply about the people in your team. My strong conviction is that there is always more potential to be fulfilledGiving your management a tune-up, helping everybody get along better and working on skills will make sure you capitalise on all the hard work you have put into systems, hardware and recruitment.

The results are that life becomes easier for everybody.  Your people care more about your business, become more professional and communicate better with each other.  Your stress levels reduce.

If, like me, you believe that becoming a better employer will boost your bottom line, and that fostering an increased sense of direction and togetherness in your team will lead to business success, let’s talk!