“When doubts come out and tug at your sleeve... they’re not bad, just growing pains”
“Growing Pains” - Tony Bennett
Joe and his senior colleagues are feeling uncharacteristically down. In their quieter, more reflective moments at the end of the day,
they talk about how their original optimism for the business is drifting away, and with it the vital energy that has been so much part
of their first five years.
A small group of friends with a range of experiences and a great “niche” idea had got together in 2001. Up to18 months ago things had gone well. There had been gradual growth, initially generated by themselves and then through the recruitment of excellent specialists, who were never hard to find because the business was an exciting place to work.
In any discussion with the senior team about their success, they always prided themselves on five main strengths:
“Nothing’s impossible – we have absolute confidence that any problem can be overcome”.
“We’ve got loads of energy – we love what we do and our enthusiasm is infectious”.
“Business Focus is our main strength – we’ve got the entrepreneurial flair to recognise and develop business opportunities profitably”.
“We’re recognised by our people for straightforward dealing – they trust us and issues are handled in an open and honest way”.
“We work hard and play hard – this is a fun place to work, where the whole team are friends inside and outside of work”.
So why the doubts?
Here are some of the reasons identified during an away-day session:
• Success so far has been built on their combined network of contacts. They must grow and this needs a longer-term strategy. Not something any of them has experience of developing.
• The external recruitment market for specialists has got much tougher, so excessive time and money is being wasted and business opportunities lost because they are short of key people.
• Excellent technical specialists don’t know how to make the transition into first-line managers, which is desperately needed as the business grows. Where this has been tried on a “sink-or-swim” basis, the failure rate has been high.
• Straightforward people management issues are not being resolved, which is leading to a culture of mediocre performance.
• As the marketplace for talented people has got tougher, some of the high potential people who saw career opportunities when they joined, are starting to question their future with the organisation.
• The senior team need to step back from their operational responsibilities to take a more strategic leadership role, but they have no clear succession and little formal leadership training. If they’re honest, they also lack the confidence to “let go”.
• They have an over-riding feeling that everyone in the business is unintentionally working below their potential, but don’t know what to do about it.
Growth is possible, but not without change, so what to do?
A real organisation...? No.
Real issues...? Definitely, Yes.
The “story” is drawn from our experiences of successfully working with a range of small to medium-sized organisations, all within “hi-tec” or “specialist sectors. Here are some of their quotes:
"Freestyle worked with The Wadenhoe Consultancy at a time when the business was going through a period of significant growth and needed to implement some major changes. Working closely with Ray Atkinson, a business strategy was developed and, more importantly, implemented, involving both the senior management team and the first-line managers in a process of significant change.
Subsequently, whilst retaining its older, blue-chip clients, Freestyle has successfully expanded its client base across a range of new industry sectors both in the UK and Europe and today is the largest digital marketing agency in the Midlands and one of the largest independents in the country".
Director & Joint Founder
FSNM (Freestyle New Media)
"I would like to thank The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd. for the management and leadership workshops that they have have provided for me and others in my team over the last 18 months. The safe environment away from work meant that I could take myself to an observation point on my own management performance. Combining this with new practical skills means that I have a personal plan to close the gap between how I would like to manage and how I actually manage.
I'm also very lucky that a significant number of my senior team have been able to take part in these workshops. This has immediately made everyone more sympathetic to individual working styles. In addition, there seems to be a more focused performance management process and a measurable improvement in constructive direction for the newer team members"
Head of Production Control
European Credit Management (ECM)
Article written by Ray Atkinson, 17/12/2008.
©2009 The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd.
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