The manager and deputy had just resigned after many years in their posts and with little staff turn-over in recent years the directors were considering their next steps; it seemed an ideal opportunity to review the existing management structure.
They also wanted external help to review the skills of the supervisors which they felt were strong and to consider whether they could look to appoint internally or would need to go externally.
There was also a requirement to consider existing systems and processes that had been set up in the past and whether these were still fit for purpose.
I was required to meet with both the manager and deputy and with the supervisors heading up the different departments to gather views from them.
The staff had been made aware of my appointment and the reasons for this.
They were encouraged to be open and honest with me as an external consultant so that I could provide an overview to the owners of the current position and realistic possibilities going forward.
Appraisal outcomes were also offered to me by individual staff to support this process.
Their employer had also made it clear that there were opportunities for promotion and that they were, through this review, investing in staff development.
The team members were welcoming despite the uncertainty about the future.
Following the brief, I then interviewed staff and made observations to enable me to put forward a business review proposal.
I observed the good practice but quickly ascertained that the supervisors had much more potential that could be honed and used to benefit the organisation.
They were excellent professionals in their field who clearly loved their work and were committed to doing the best that they could. However, many supervisors through their own admission did not have the confidence to step up and take on more responsibility.
I discussed this with the owners and it was agreed that a 1:1 approach of Individual Personal Development Coaching to further strengthen their leadership and management skills could really support their personal growth and help with confidence issues; this intervention specifically empowers the individual helping them to find their own way of doing things.
I also suggested that observations of supervisors working with their team members would be another useful intervention; enabling observations of typical behaviours, attitudes and strategies used to develop their own teams.
Specific tailored training sessions were also suggested once priorities had been actioned.
Regular coaching sessions with each of the supervisors were established.
Meetings (face to face and telephone) were scheduled with the business owners to update on progress and draw up timelines for action particularly to meet the impending departure dates of senior staff.
Ongoing meetings and coaching sessions were planned and scheduled with the supervisors to ensure continuity of support and development to fit in with day to day demands of the running of the business.
Observations were carried out with written and verbal feedback which provided a means of identifying strengths and aspects of the supervisors’ leadership and management skills that required further development. This also enabled me to make suggestions for improvements in management systems and processes currently in use.
I was able to provide tailored training and mentoring during these sessions as an ‘add-on’ with bespoke hand-outs covering top tips and a little theory to support the supervisors’ practice.
Using an external consultant who had no prior knowledge or perception of the situation meant that the business owners were provided with an objective view. This enabled them to make an informed decision on next steps.
Gaps in staff skills and aptitudes were also quickly assessed to enable the owners to deal with the impending changes to the management of the organisation.
Open-ended and challenging questions used during coaching enables ‘the stretch’; after just a few weeks of 1 to 1 coaching sessions, many of the supervisors reported an increase in confidence. They were able to move out of their comfort zone and had the courage to work on their weaknesses; they recognised that they could take more control of their own development.
They also made decisions about how to use their strengths.
Many became more effective in organising their teams and delegating tasks in what was a very busy work environment.
These improvements were also reported by the owners of the business.
A couple of the supervisors were appointed to deputy positions, and support was then provided to the directors to successfully advertise and appoint a manager externally.
Take a look at the downloadable PDF entitled; ‘Benefits of using an Independent Coach and Mentor at Strive’. Download here.
“We first engaged with Debra McAndrew in March 2017 when our business was going through a period of change which as we subsequently found out was very much needed. We had some initial meetings to explain the current situation to Debra and together developed some ideas of what we wanted to achieve with our business in the future with her advice, involvement and knowledge of leadership and management skills.
We then implemented a programme which looked at analysis of staff skill sets, gaps in performance and then ultimately the training that was required. In addition to this Debra played a significant part in our process of employing a new competent Manager for the nursery.
Debra’s engagement with the whole team was refreshing and brought a whole new positive feel to the business and the staff. We are now starting to see all the benefits of the work Debra did over the months she worked with us and the nursery and the staff are more confident and empowered to make decisions and work independently.”
Nick Clitheroe, Business Owner