I joined Nottingham law firm Berryman about five years ago to set up the HR and management development consultancy arm.
One of the most rewarding jobs I’ve done here was when a client wanted to go through a major culture change.
We began by looking at where the business wanted to be. It was quite a strategic project in terms of where they wanted to get to as a senior team. We then undertook a staff survey. There were some strong words in the answers, such as ‘bullying‘, and the organisation was described as unfair, and as having favourites among the staff. It was quite damning.
We wrote a detailed action plan. We took a step-by-step approach, and began by educating the managers in self-awareness. We gave them the tools to manage – from return-to-work procedures and induction forms, to letting them have their own training and development plans as a team.
We gave them both the tools and an understanding of themselves as individuals. We worked with the staff to engage them more, through team meetings, company away-days, and really getting their feedback. We spent time helping them make team meetings more effective.
I delivered a monthly training session for the managers on issues such as motivation, team dynamics and disciplinary skills. Eighteen months down the line, we held another staff survey, where employees described the company as a really great place to work, with a happy workforce and good managers – a fair place.
We managed to turn it around. What was amazing for me was working with those managers and getting their hearts and minds engaged. Because I didn’t belong to the company, staff felt they could be honest with me, and I could then be honest with the managers about how the staff felt. The coaching that went on in those monthly sessions was really quite direct.
The powerful thing for me was to hear people say one thing, then 18 months later, say another. It was amazing, and incredibly rewarding. We showed that if you put the leadership in and build structures, then a company can change.
That company has continued to grow. We have less involvement with them now, although we continue to offer them lots of support.