Your people are the collective power behind your business. As a leader/manager it’s in your best interests to optimise your people’s knowledge, provide opportunities for skill development, make their work systems and tools suitable and practical, and support positive and healthy working relationships.
Every part of your business deserves thoughtful attention. If you are serious about wanting to improve organisational capability, Thornton Mack can help you to work out what could be done/is worth doing, the benefits of taking action, and in what order your efforts would best be applied – to get the most from your investment of time, effort and funds.
Management actions, which help your people to succeed on behalf of the business, can be approached in a variety of ways. We will work with you to choose the approach that will work for you, your management team and your organisation. This may mean doing some or all of the work on your behalf, through to coaching you, another manager or a team to take the actions and use the agreed tools.
One of the most visible aspects of an organisation’s capability is its structure, and even organisation structures that are carefully and thoughtfully designed eventually run down as individuals bring their own experience and interpretation to their job – and those around them. Making change to an organisation structure is serious as it impacts every individual and the working relationships that they have established, the way that managers motivate their teams and drive business results. Structural change impacts productivity; it is not possible to make this type of change and retain the same level of focus on the job at hand. With the help of Thornton Mack you can work out whether a proposed change to structure is actually needed, quantify the benefits of a change and make a sound judgement about the scale of change, the best approach and the right pace of implementation.
Three other important aspects of designing an overall structure are the design of jobs, processes and governance arrangements. When undertaking job design, we look at job expectations/objectives, resources under control, accountability/decision-making and the inter-relationships with others. Job requirements are also evaluated from a behavioural perspective, to determine how that position will need to interact with others in a team in order to be successful.
We can also assist you in shaping appropriate governance arrangements, including governance structures, terms of reference, decision rights, responsibilities and reporting methods. Our services include: reviewing existing arrangements in consultation with your board, leadership team or committee; proposing adjustments for improved effectiveness; drafting artefacts for your leadership team’s consideration; and, guiding implementation of new arrangements, including 1:1 coaching of responsible personnel.
If you are looking to develop a plan to enhance the knowledge and skills of part – or all – of your workforce, then our capability development framework will be of interest. The approach involves job and business requirements analysis to determine the necessary skills, interviews and/or surveys to identify gaps in service or delivery, and creation of a development path and plan for the work area concerned. Results may be as focused as tailoring a plan to the development of key personnel or as broad as a learning and development plan or a skills and knowledge transfer plan for a work unit or division.
As visible as structure – and more powerful in shaping the success of a business – is the culture or the organisation. Adjusting the culture is a desire of many leaders and managers and comparatively few have the means to tackle this complex matter without some help. Hopefully you have enlisted the assistance of your human resources group in this endeavour, perhaps you are looking for an objective external view or perhaps you are not convinced about where to start taking action. Whatever stage of thinking you are at, Thornton Mack can add value to your approach. We believe that the place to start is in defining the current culture in behavioural terms, so that you have a very clear picture of ‘what makes it how it is’, and if you are thinking of this sort of project you will likely already begun this definition process, even if only in personal reflections. We can assist you by; giving your culture – at the team or organisational level – a tangible measurement as the baseline, helping you to define the future state – what you desire the culture to be, and designing a practical approach to transition to that desired state. Depending on your situation, this may be done by a combination of interviews, surveys, focus groups and workshops. Regardless of the design decisions we can put you in control of the objectives, and coach you in both taking action and dealing with stumbles along the way, so that you achieve real and positive change in your organisation without losing focus.
Assessing the culture of a division
A range of incidents in a division had created serious concern in the CEO’s mind about the business culture. We were engaged to examine the management and business culture and provide a report.
After an initial verbal briefing from the division head, information on the business vision and values, objectives, structure and relevant incident reports was gathered and reviewed as context. Structured interviews were then conducted with key executives, senior managers and a selection of staff – over 40 in all – in association with which most also completed a short survey aimed at identifying the aspects of culture within and across business units in the division.
A report, identifying cultural attributes and differences across the division, was provided to the Director prior to a face-to-face debrief. The report identified six key cultural attributes which had contributed to the problems being experienced and provided over a dozen actionable recommendations – all of which could be taken by the Director in consultation with peers and without the need for further consulting assistance.
Realignment of structure following a merger
Following the administrative creation of a new entity from two former government agencies, new organisational arrangements had been recommended to the Executive Director by an independent consultant. An implementation plan was now needed and no resources were available to undertake the project.
Executive sponsorship and a steering committee, project budget and a project management office, project communications (e.g. intranet site, newsletters), progress reporting and stakeholder management were put in place at the outset – including a consultation process with staff and unions. Following drafting of a functional organisation structure and incorporation of feedback from stakeholders, a suite of position descriptions were developed and workshops conducted with staff to walk through the results. A number of key business processes, which were impacted by the organisation change, were identified in these reviews and revised to mitigate risk and reflect new arrangements. When the design and planning stages of the project were completed, the Executive Director reconfirmed the final and overall results in an all-staff meeting.
When workshops were completed and feedback reviewed by the Steering Committee, a resourcing change management plan was finalised to guide employee placement and recruitment. In addition, a transition plan was provided to support the steering committee and project management office in implementation and the communication and consultation mechanisms established during the project became core tools to support change.
Tracking the performance of three offshore service providers
A few years after service provision commenced, management practices had been relaxed and the business was less comfortable that the right things were being measured. Base performance appeared to be OK, but the executive was questioning whether metrics and results were being used to understand the business and drive service improvements.
Business managers responsible for overseeing contract delivery were engaged in a series of activities, aimed at understanding the business behaviours needed for successful management of the outsourced services (building collaborative relationships), providing effective status reporting for their internal clients, and influencing a culture of continuous improvement.
With support, managers and providers openly exchanged information, perceptions and viewpoints, and made undertakings about future ways of working together. A new reporting and management approach to overseeing service provider delivery was agreed and embedded in the business.
"I have continued to sing the praises of the fantastic work you did with us to anyone who will listen - both internally & externally. Aside from our much stronger governance position, your work really helped us build those relationships with (the service providers), but also I honestly feel helped (the Executive's) direct report team really form - become a team. A good journey!"
Reviewing support service needs
A range of temporary roles and arrangements had been put in place to drive internal improvements in the areas of pricing, billing, program coordination and general business support. The executive team asked Thornton Mack to examine the arrangements and business requirements, and recommend a suitable structure for implementation. Budget was a key constraint, so any proposal for change had to clearly demonstrate value for money and the capability to deliver.
Services, functions and staff in scope for the review were identified in sessions with the head and group executives, and their views on potential arrangements were sought. Interviews with key staff, data gathering and document review informed further understanding of the business requirements andissues. Findings were checked and qualified in more focused consultation with the senior executive and the organisation performance team, where implications and options were openly debated.
Thornton Mack recommended a structure for the four main functions which met budget and benefit expectations. The report clarified responsibilities, boundaries and hand-over points between functions, resolved capability gaps and provided implementation steps to enable the business to improve both efficiency and effectiveness over the near and medium term.
Reviewing change management services
An internal change management service delivery group was established within a leading financial organisation with responsibility for providing change management for an extensive risk transformation program across the enterprise. Following mixed client feedback in relation to the value and quality of services provided, the executive requested a review of the services, capability and performance levels of the group.
Following an initial briefing from the executive, review assessment criteria and tools were designed for a ‘health check’ of the effectiveness of change support provided by the group. This included a guide and questionnaire, and change capability assessment. Existing frameworks and methodologies, and their application, were reviewed. Key projects were evaluated to determine the quality of program design and any gaps, as rated against assessment criteria. The execution of the change program and the effectiveness of existing interventions were assessed, and interviews with project sponsors, change owners, project managers and key business stakeholders were conducted. These informed review findings, providing necessary insight on satisfaction levels and perceived value, and individual change knowledge, skill and experience of change practitioners.
Progress review meetings and discussions on interim findings were held with the executive throughout the assignment to provide opportunity for variation and further inquiry based on those findings.
Over forty actionable recommendations for improvement were provided to the executive, supported by comprehensive rationale and quantitative and qualitative data. Key findings and recommendations were prioritised to assist in timely action to drive performance and value, develop and strengthen change capability within the group, enhance client engagement and satisfaction with services, and advance the quality of change program outcomes.
One key finding demonstrated that a key project was at risk due to the change solution design and delivery not meeting project and client requirements, and the executive requested further specialist change guidance and coaching for an Executive Change Manager.
Sustainable resourcing in a specialised team
The leader of a strategic vendor management directorate was looking for assistance in dealing with the impact of staff turnover on their team’s capability and reputation within the business.
When the directorate was established, positions had been created to fit single functions. After reviewing the team’s remit, the consultant proposed that staff roles be realigned across functions in a client-centered model. This had the additional benefits of dealing with key person risk, enriching the relationship of the team with the business, creating job interest and fostering knowledge sharing.
Once the new operating model was defined and agreed with the Director, jobs were redesigned and the knowledge and skill requirements defined. Existing staff were placed in the best-fit roles by agreement. A knowledge transfer and skills development program was designed and initiated, with the Director acting as lead mentor on technical skills development while the consultant worked with staff to enhance their relationship management and reporting ability. Along with an orientation kit and other tools, the Director was provided with a lasting program for ongoing growth of the team.
Design of a Customer-centric Regional Business
The Board of a regional business was concerned about the quality of customer experience. They asked the General Manager to implement a business model to deliver integrated, on-ground services to local customers and engaged us to undertake an organisation review. Thornton Mack supported the leadership team to develop a new operating model and structure, and was asked to return the following year to assist with implementation.
Thornton Mack worked closely with the GM and his direct reports, providing a method for the review and providing leadership coaching throughout the process. Genuine consultation and a reliance on facts and data were key to success. A group of internal stakeholders within the business were brought together to discuss the Boards’ goals and the approach. Along with the Board, this group gave business insights, were engaged as friendly critics and eventually as advocates for the final operating model design. Along the way, we developed a description of the attributes of the future business, in terms of strategy, customer focus, collaboration, budget and competency. This became a common vision – an agreement about what ‘good’ would look like – and the basis of a measurement system which was used to evaluate operating model options and progress to achieving the future business state.
The new operating model was championed by internal stakeholders, approved by the Board and progressed to implementation. The business transformed from functional reporting to remote specialists, to place-based reporting with local leadership. Measurable improvements were immediately visible – better access to services for customers, streamlined reporting, additional career paths for staff and a more accountable and agile business.
"As an experienced Exec. taking a leadership role in a new industry, I needed skilled, experienced help from someone I could trust to help me transform the business. Jacqui was able to sensitively drive new thinking in the business and achieve results while being leadership coach, confidante and mentor. Jacqui has the unique ability to absorb complex situations and simplify them and in so doing enable those that may operate at a different level to come on the journey. Jacqui comes with my highest recommendation."
Regional General Manager