Case Study 1
In a small business, every person counts. In an ideal world, small teams are almost like family. They’re close-knit, familiar, and supportive. But close or not, teams are made up of different people with different personalities, values, experiences, and backgrounds.
Conflict and other issues are inevitable sooner or later. Even families fall out. So what do you do when this happens?
The first thing you need to do is get to the bottom of the issue before they start damaging the business.
I recently worked with an engineering contractor. They were a team of four and the business owner.
The majority of the team got on really well. The 4th was the odd man out. Excluded from conversations, wasn’t valued for his work, basically ostracised from the team by the others.
Understandably this wasn’t a great working environment for anyone. But because of the bad feeling, the person who had been ostracised was argumentative, unmotivated, lazy and defensive.
None of the team were enjoying coming to work, this had a direct impact on their quality of work and how much they were getting done in a day.
The employer had noticed and had also noticed that these issues were impacting his clients. So before the situation started affecting the business profits he asked me to come in and help. He had no idea where to even begin with sorting them out.
I was called in to get to the bottom of the issues with the team and try and rectify them. We wanted to get this team working well together and improve the productivity of the business.
My first goal was to identify the cause of the problems within the team.
After observing how things were done and carrying out a review of the business, I noticed that:
- The employer had not defined their values or shared them with the team
- There was no discussion about what behaviours were acceptable
- There were no clearly defined roles and responsibilities for team members
- There was no basic understanding of Health and Safety.
These basics are the foundation for a high-performing team and a business that runs like clockwork. Without them in place, nothing was ever going to improve.
If the problems were not addressed the situation would have led to team members might have quit. Key skills would have been lost.
The contractor would have been unable to fulfil his obligations to his clients because he just wouldn’t have had the manpower.
The business reputation would have suffered because of the way the team were working and this potentially could have led to them losing future business.
This employer needed help designing and implementing the basic parameters that would improve working relationships and team performance (and as a result, business performance), both now and in the future.
I supported the employer to create a framework for behaviours, values, roles, and responsibilities.
I provided Health and Safety basics training to ensure the business was legally compliant.
I also provided them with supportive resources to be used during the onboarding process with new employees.
This meant that this situation wouldn’t happen again.
The strong foundation that the employer needed for their business was now in place.
The conflicts within the team were resolved.
The business owner felt better equipped to deal with any future problems and had confidence in their new procedures.
My support led to better team relationships, better performance, and a business that was primed to continue growing and developing in the future.
Case Study 2
How many people start their own business with a dream that one day, after putting in the long hours, and all the blood, sweat, and tears, they can take a step back and spend time doing the things they enjoy? But how many employers actually realise that dream?
I worked with one contractor business owner with a small team, who wanted that dream for himself. He needed financial security for himself and his family, and a business that would continue to evolve so he could have the secure future he dreamed of. And he wanted it so he could take time out and leave his team to get on with running the business.
When I started working with him, he constantly had interruptions from his 5 team members who wanted constant reassurance on what they were doing and who wouldn’t make any decisions without his say so.
He was not getting to his strategic tasks and he couldn’t take time out of the business. His health was suffering as a result.
I steered him away from what I call ‘the indispensability trap.’ Like many employers, he had made himself indispensable to the business, to the extent that it would struggle to run without him.
This would not help him achieve that dream of security, financial freedom, and being able to step back.
But I knew what would: Helping the team feel confident enough to solve problems independently, understand business processes, and think about continuous improvement.
If I helped them crack this, the employer could take a step back without ever having to worry that his business was not running like clockwork.
Working with the business owner, I developed delegation skills creating empowerment.
Working with the team, I developed their confidence and ability to make decisions by exploring their business processes and understanding their remit.
To further embed what they were learning and to play to their strengths, additional resources were supplied in-between visits.
The business owner saw a significant drop in queries from his team and as a result was able to get on with his own jobs.
He also started to take time out to go to the gym and have holidays. Something he hadn’t been able to before. As a result, his health improved.
The team buzzed with enthusiasm because they knew the boundaries and as a result of feeling empowered productivity had picked up.
And from looking at the business processes the team had identified improvements that had cut out waste and rework amounting to 520 hours a year.
Case Study 3
The workplace culture can make or break a business. If there’s a negative or damaging culture, it’s up to the leader to sort it out. Culture seeps into teams from the top down.
The lead of a recruitment business came to me for help. He’d been told he was running a business with a ‘lads’ culture’ and after some deep thinking, he realised there were changes he desperately needed to make.
He was rightly concerned that if he didn’t make the improvements needed the women in the business would walk away and he would lose valuable experience and skills.
He admitted there was banter and when reflecting he realised it could feel uncomfortable for the women.
In a series of leadership mentoring sessions, we identified some key changes he needed to make.
These centred around challenging unacceptable behaviour and including all his team members when asking for thoughts or ideas. Also, a key issue was the predominantly ‘male’ feel to the business and I shared insights to help him see how he could change things up for the better.
We explored unconscious biases and this brought about several lightbulb moments as he realised there were some underlying issues he needed to tackle.
We also delved into using the strengths of his team and how to build an inclusive and supportive team.
The lead told me he had taken some great insights away from the sessions and that they’d really helped him move forward with a number of things, especially the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives that we’d discussed. He’d also gained some insights to use when discussing performance management.
Overall he felt he had more tools to use which would make a difference to the culture and retain all his employees. He was determined to use these tools to create an inclusive environment.
Case Study 4
A great employer always invests in the development of their people. What I often find is that employers don’t want leadership mentoring for themselves, but for a team member who they believe has huge potential.
A Software company with a business owner approached me as he had a lead who he felt was struggling to be assertive.
An initial exploration call was made to check that the person felt comfortable with having mentoring.
We started by exploring the person’s DiSC profile and looking at where she felt she needed some assistance.
From our discussions, it was clear that the person was assertive but had issues around how she was asking her team to take on the work. Her team was not completing the work allocated and when she was absent work was frequently left.
Often the lead would carry out the actions rather than ask her team as when she did ask she felt it wasn’t usually completed correctly.
As a result, the lead felt under immense pressure and was struggling with time management.
Through our discussions, it came to light that she had 2 supervisors who worked for her and she was struggling with the way they managed their teams. She felt they didn’t show empathy to their team members and as a result, the team were dis-engaged and not very productive.
Over a series of mentoring sessions, we explored how she spoke to her team members, her delegation methods, and how to upskill her supervisors in management too, focusing on soft skills like empathy and emotional intelligence.
I also shared different ways she could manage her time and included eLearning to embed what we discussed. In between sessions, I was available for catch-ups to support her with any situations or questions.
Through mentoring, the person became more confident in her ability to delegate tasks and not micromanage. As a result, empowering her team members and making them feel valued increased performance.
The knock-on effect was her ability to manage her time better and get on with her day to day tasks.
She also noticed tasks were being dealt with when she was not there, leading to more effective business running.
Her supervisors continued with the eLearning and she shared the tools and skills from the mentoring sessions to upskill them as well.
Case Study 5
Many business owners start out feeling passionate, driven, and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. But somewhere along the line, some lose their mojo. The cons of being a business owner start to outweigh the pros. They ask themselves, should it feel this hard?
A web-design business owner who felt just like this came to me for help. She felt she had no real direction and focus and she wanted to get her business moving forwards again. She felt like she was stuck in treacle as didn’t know how to move forward with her business.
She wanted a profitable business that would also give her that big sense of satisfaction that she dreamed of when she started out.
Over a series of three mentoring sessions, we explored what was holding her back, including her lack of confidence and we identified what needed to change.
One of her issues was that she felt overwhelmed and unable to make decisions on what to target. We looked at her work-life balance and where there were imbalances. Often it felt as if her work was in peaks and troughs.
Through our discussions, we identified some clear skills and strengths she had previously used in her career that she could use in her business. We drew up a clear action plan.
Over the next few weeks, we met regularly to provide accountability and a safe space to share any concerns.
Her business went from stagnant to growing again, and she found her hidden confidence as well as so many skills from other roles that she could transfer to her business. As a result, she looked far into the future to plan. She went away knowing her strengths and what elements she could delegate.
The business had a clear plan of action, a vision and a mission to follow through on. It was like seeing a phoenix rise from the ashes.
Case Study 6
It can be very exciting when your business grows to the point where you might need to take on some help. But the thought of all the responsibilities that come with that can also be very daunting. It can seem overwhelming and hard to know where to begin.
A marketing and web-design business owner approached me as they were thinking of taking on some employees and hadn’t a clue as to what was needed.
After exploring the type of employee they wanted she set about recruiting three part-time people.
I helped them hit the ground running so the business got the best possible start in an organised way.
Initially, I started by drawing up contracts and policies, an induction process and providing basic health and safety training for the three new employees.
Over three months, I encouraged and developed the soft skills of the employees as all were from school and university ensuring their interactions with customers were to the right standard.
Working with the business owner and their team I assisted in facilitating the development of their vision and mission to give clear direction.
I drew up a clear employee journey with guidance at each stage to support the employer and to give them confidence in dealing with any issues in a clear and easily understood process.
The business owner had a vision of growing the business and realising her leadership skills needed to develop. I shared my experiences, skills and tools to help with this.
The employer as a result felt supported by her team, who actively contributed their ideas and passion to the business and supported the business whole-hearted.