Archives

Business and team planning

Business and Team Planning

This workshop gives delegates a welcome chance to sit down in an invigorating and comfortable environment and think about where they want their organisation and team to go, and how. With a little input on the principles and techniques behind effective business and team planning, the main focus is on the production of a real working document for them to use as the basis of their activities in the coming year.

Learning Aims

By the end of this six-hour session, delegates will have :
· a set of agreed objectives for their own organisation
· a plan for each team / business area
· improved understanding of each others’ challenges and issues
· the ability to plan and review performance in the future

For Whom

This session is for senior managers and department heads who find it difficult to set aside time in the workplace to get together with their peers and work through the annual business and team planning process.

Content

o The importance of SMARTER goals
o The balanced scorecard
o Current initiatives and sources of management information
o A prioritisation framework
o What are the top priorities for the organisation?
o Success measures to support the strategic objectives
o Sanity checking on capacity and interdependencies
o Ownership of business objectives
o Review methods, milestones and accountabilities
o Methods of communicating the plan to the workforce
o Activity planning
o Practical : Draft implementation plan for own area of accountability, present it to the group and get feedback

Elmtree Garden Contractors – strategy consulting

Elmtree Garden Contractors - strategy consulting

Elmtree Garden Contractors – strategy consulting

A well-known family firm established in 1969 with a name in the Bristol area for landscaping and grounds maintenance for housebuilding and construction projects.  When I started working with them in early 2010, the founder had taken a step back from the business and his son, Paul Lynch, had assumed the position of Managing Director.  He was keen to put in place a set of properly-structured processes to manage the performance of his then 17 people, and to learn all he could to enable him to feel fully in control.

There has always been a stated commitment to Quality, Service and Reliability, and the firm was already known as one of the better employers in the sector.  What I found when I spoke to everyone who worked there was that :

  • there were very few measures and targets to back up the claims about Quality, Service and Reliability
  • people did not feel they were informed about business performance, strategy and goals
  • Paul and the foremen had had no training in team leadership, meaning they were struggling with the problem of being ‘mates’ with their operatives at times when they needed to keep an objective distance
  • people wanted the occasional chance to have a proper one-to-one chat with the boss

At our strategy consulting sessions, Paul was very positive about moving forward with my suggested improvements, and we worked together on an action plan that had to take account of the seasonal cycle of the trade.

We developed an aims and objectives document, written for the team and using a very simple version of the Balanced Scorecard, that set out what Elmtree was aiming to achieve over the longer and shorter term.  Once this was drafted and discussed with the team, everything else we did could be geared towards achieving the objectives.

I joined team meetings to support the communication of everything that was going on, including how each operative could get personally involved in generating new business leads.  This reduced the pressure on Paul to take responsibility for all sales and marketing operations.  I delivered short in-house skills workshops for foremen on motivation and team building.  I came to see Paul for strategy consulting sessions every six weeks in the winter months to help him keep on track.  I supplied guidance and templates of some 1-page forms so he could get a straightforward system of one-to-one job chats going.

When Elmtree went for Investors in People in March 2012, they achieved the award easily.  The team had spoken in glowing terms about how things had improved and the positive effect these had had on teamwork, communication and customer service.  The resulting benefit to profitability came directly from these.  At a difficult time for the sector :

  • operatives have been kept within the team instead of being laid off during the quiet winter months
  • relationships with main contractors have strengthened
  • new recruits have joined so the team has grown to 28 people
  • valuable contracts have been won and new services launched

Update :  In early 2015 Elmtree underwent their Investors in People reaccreditation.  They gained the award at Silver level, showing how markedly they have moved forward.  The assessor’s feedback highlighted particularly strong practice in :

  • planning – employee participation in the development of company objectives
  • values – regularly involving the team in discussions about what these mean in practice
  • learning and development – the quality of on-site training

Care Matters (Wilts) – Business Improvement

Business improvement - Care Matters

Care Matters (Wiltshire) Ltd is a medium-sized domiciliary care agency which has been operating out of Warminster for over ten years. The manager, Julie King, had heard about Investors in People as an effective business improvement framework, and was interested in finding out more. Always an employer who has been genuinely committed to her team, and already a successful business, she wanted to :

• better support compliance with Care Quality Commission standards
• bring more organisation and structure to systems for managing performance
• confirm her commitment to her team by gaining external recognition

Implementing Business Improvement

We started by arranging confidential one-to-one chats between me and each of her people – a face-to-face staff survey, in effect. This was a bit of a leap of faith on Julie’s part; it takes an enlightened attitude to be prepared to open up to criticism – however constructive – the business one has built up.

The output was a report reflecting perceptions of Care Matters as an employer, both good and no so good points. Julie and I then met regularly to consider consolidating those strengths in management practice and identifying solutions to areas which could be improved. We agreed simple ways to :

• communicate to the team what the business is aiming to achieve
• plan and evaluate learning and development
• redesign the Quality of Care survey of service users
• involve the team in discussions about team working and moral values
• deliver short in-house workshops on management skills for Julie and her team leaders

When we had worked together over a twelve-month cycle to put all that in place, we invited the award assessor in. Her feedback was glowing, especially around effective management, involved people, mutual support and respect, and commitment to high standards. Care Matters gained Investors in People accreditation “with flying colours”.

The agency has continued to grow, profits have risen, there is stronger resilience as it is better able to overcome market volatility, and business improvement has become a way of life. At the next CQC inspection, particular mention was made of the strong leadership and performance management practice in evidence. On top of that, they are a lovely group of people to work with.

 

Palm Equipment – management training

Photo Palm-equipment-europe

Palm Equipment International – management training

A Clevedon-based manufacturer and supplier of kayaks and related gear with 45 people, which responded to a mailing about the Coaching For High Growth scheme.  I visited the senior management team to find a business that was building a great reputation worldwide and making money, but wasting resources through firefighting its way through lots of problems.  It had become successful through its technical excellence but the training it had done had not been in the essential skills for working with other people nor in management and leadership.

I started by having one-to-one chats with a representative sample of people and identifying the main issues.  I set these out in a report which the senior management team and I debated and which they then used as guide to help them prioritise their business planning.  The funding scheme mentioned above meant they got all this at no charge.

The next stage was to agree some objectives for a series of four half-day in-house management training workshops – necessary because of shift patterns – and design the training to meet them and to suit the audience.  The sessions were aimed at boosting self-awareness of different styles of leadership and team roles, and gave hints and tips on motivation, coaching, assertiveness and delegation.

Two groups of ten senior staff, including the directors, participated.  They made public commitments on what they were going to do differently back in the workplace and accounted to the group for this at the next session.  The feedback acknowledged the workshops as “very thought-provoking”, “a great contribution to our successful business” and “made a big difference to the smooth running of the place”, and I have been asked back to do some more work on skills development.

Rise Technical – Investors in People Gold

homepageheader

Rise Technical Recruitment – Investors in People Gold

Of the thousands of Investors in People organisations in the UK, about three percent are Gold; almost all of these have been working with the Standard for many years.

The fast-growing specialist recruitment firm already had a high-profile in the Bristol business community.  The founding directors, Jeff Leng and Ben McCarthy, had featured in the local media for their ambitious and skilled entrepreneurship.  When I was invited in, it was already a successful business, a great place to work, with phenomenal levels of professional ethics, customer service and team motivation.

When we discussed Investors in People, the original intention had been to gain accreditation against the basic Standard, firstly to gain the “badge” as a marketing tool, and secondly to support the ambitious plans for continued expansion.  When I spoke to the people that worked there, it soon became obvious that there was a great deal more in place than the core Standard seeks evidence for.  There was therefore every reason to suppose that the firm could match up to the rigour of Investors in People Gold.  We decided to go for it.

Not everything was perfect:  The team were rather vague on what the top-level business objectives were, more could be done to promote the learning culture Jeff and Ben were seeking to create, and team managers’ skills needed further development.

We worked together to design a series of management skills workshops based around the contents of their operational manual.  I delivered these in bite-sized sessions with lots of practical tools to help make the models in the manual come alive.  We did some serious thinking about how strategy was communicated and the link between training and business targets strengthened, and I gave them tools to help.  I would go to see Jeff and Ben every 3 or 4 weeks, and at every meeting they had always completed the actions agreed at the previous meeting.

When the award assessor came in to Rise, he had no hesitation in awarding Investors in People Gold at the first time of asking, only 9 months after our initial meeting.  The score out of 10 achieved for being a great place to work was between 9 and 10.

The sense of pride in the team has risen even higher than it was.  As their adviser, I too am proud of what they have achieved.  Major credit goes to Jeff and Ben for their positive, responsive and enlightened attitude.  They are quick and effective in implementing improvements, crystal clear on the business benefits of Investors in People, and are well set to be the fastest-growing independently-owned firm in their sector.

Social Responsibility

To follow through on my commitment to social responsibility, I volunteer 5 days every year to help young people with their employment prospects and act as an independent mentor on their cv and career planning.

Career Planning

A school leaver called Nathan came to me in some distress after being told by his careers adviser to get a job in a call centre.  I listened, created a safe and calm environment, encouraged him to take a deep breath, and then listened some more.  I asked him to look back at the achievements of his life so far, and there were plenty; we quantified these and included them in his cv.  I reassured him about how there is no need in early life for specific professional goals and we looked at some options.  He had never travelled outside the UK before.  He is now working abroad, filled with vitality and a sense of opportunity, and is one of the happiest people I know.

Student business start-ups

I have been a judge for UWE’s student business planning competitions, sharing as much feedback and “wisdom” as I could.  Many of the entries I judged have gone on to set up successful businesses.

Bridging the education – workplace gap

I act as a volunteer business expert for an excellent organisation called Working Knowledge which is well worth checking out.

Working Knowledge Expert
@WK_experts

Sharing knowledge

Another way in which I uphold my social responsibility is to make my knowledge and experience available for the general public to learn from.  I make no charge for writing articles like this one for the national Investors in People website,  In this way, people can find out what it’s like to a) go through the process, and b) work with me.  I believe strongly in the power of organisational development and want to share this passion.

Legal Stuff

While I am a big believer in plain English, my legal adviser has suggested I adopt the following wording.  By instructing me to work with you, you are agreeing to these terms.

Standard Terms and Conditions of Business

Contract

Our contract will be based on these terms and conditions and the written proposal.  I will hold these costs for three months from the date of the proposal.  By agreeing to proceed you are confirming that you have read, understood and will abide by these Terms and Conditions and Cancellation policy.

Planning and Cancellation

Once dates are booked, I will hold them for you.  Any further meetings will be subject to availability and will be charged at the agreed rate for the work.  If you cancel any meeting which you have booked, and I am not able to replace it with another paying client, I will charge cancellation fees at my discretion to a maximum of :

o        15-10 days notice – 50%
o        10-5 days notice – 75%
o        Less than 5 days notice – 100%

Termination

If, for any reason, you decide not to complete the work, you must confirm this in writing.  I will charge you for the work completed up to the date this confirmation is received and any cancellation fees due (see above).

Project review

If the project remains partially completed and there has been no contact from you, I will request a meeting to review whether the work is meeting your needs and to plan new dates.  If I receive no response to this request, I reserve the right to decide at my discretion a project termination date and charge you as per the termination clause above.

Fees and Expenses

I charge mileage at 45p per mile, and train and taxi fares and subsistence at cost.  I will add expenses to the fee invoices at appropriate times.  If you have any concerns about the fees, please contact me as soon as possible and before the work begins.  If you continue with the work after the proposal has been received and agreed, it is understood that you have accepted the outlined costs.  Between us, we will identify and agree any variation to these terms and conditions before the project begins.

Invoicing and Payment

I will invoice you according to the payment option you have chosen and which we have agreed before work starts.  The terms of payment are 28 days.  I reserve the right to discontinue delivering services if payment is outstanding.

Confidentiality

I guarantee the confidentiality of all of your information, documentation and records that I have access to. I conduct myself at all times in full compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Copyright

The copyright in the content of any work produced during or as a result of work I undertake for you shall be the absolute property of Lance Cross Business Performance Ltd.

Unavoidable Circumstances

I will try to supply the services agreed to the best of my ability.  In the case of unavoidable circumstances, such as serious illness, I will complete the work as soon as practicable and will accept no further liability.

Company Law

English law shall be the proper law of the contract and all claims under the contract shall be settled by reference to the English legal system

My ethos – business coaching

business coaching

 

My ethos is Straight Forward Thinking.  I set clear standards and measure my own performance to back up exactly what this means.

Business Coaching

In all the business coaching and training I give, I promote the idea that what really sets great leaders apart is their capacity for humility and empathy.  I try and practise what I preach.

Straight

I do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  I am open and transparent, I keep you informed about everything that is going on, I speak plain English (if you catch me talking management gobbledygook you have my permission to have at me with a big stick) and I am mindful of your operational realities.

Forward

I support you in looking to the future with optimism.  I will get you to focus on defining clearly what it is that you want your business to achieve, and help set up simple systems with which to measure whether you are or not.  I will look at all the management information available and interpret it so you make the most of it for forward planning

Thinking

I will challenge you and I will inspire you.  With a fresh angle on how you give your people what they need to do their jobs well, you will think in new ways about your role, learn and decide for yourself what needs to change.  A meeting with me is a chance for you to stop the day-job, to take a deep breath and to reflect.  I help you gain powerful insights into how the way you do things compares to best practice.  As a result, you will take the wider view and enjoy the journey.

Let a business guru help you improve your performance

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, recruitment 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 guru?’

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 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!