Investing in upskilling the management team to trade successfully out of a contracting marketplace and prepare people to lead the business in the future. BSS Industrial is the UK’s market-leading distributor of pipeline and heating solutions with a network of over 60 branches nationwide. BSS Group Ltd decided to invest in their key people to trade out of the recession. Their customers are industrial contractors, domestic plumbers and heating engineers as well as independent merchants and UK industry. Despite challenging trading activity in a number of their principal markets they reacted well to these challenges, scaling back the business where appropriate, but continuing to pursue growth opportunities. BSS identified several areas that would upskill the management team and prepare them to lead the business in the future.
The brief covered many areas including developing a better understanding of the organisation and financial matters for a multi-sited business; demonstrating the importance of a service offering culture and how BSS Group practices compare with other organisations. Another key success factor was having an understanding of strategic, tactical and operational change within a business and how to manage and lead themselves and others through it. The overall aim of the programme was to create strong, balanced and motivationed leaders who are able to work effectively as part of a group of peers on business initiatives and make business decisions as part of a consensus; demonstrate strong organisational, prioritisation and deadline management skills; improve their inter-personal and professional skills including being able to run professional and effective meetings. Above all the learning had to be closely and visibly linked to the current business requirements and deliver tangible benefits for a return on investment.
The key to success for BSS Group was to design learning inputs which provided managers with the tools and techniques to confidently conduct real work-based projects of direct relevance to the business and the individuals involved. Formal learning was time spaced and integrated with key success factors and project progress tracking, it covered Understanding self and others (including 360 feedback), Getting Organized, Making Effective Presentations, Image & Impact, Leadership & Communication and Achieving Excellence. The managers continued to work in business project teams and were supported throughout by one to one coaching and action learning sets. The finale of the Leadership and Management Development Project was similar to a ‘graduation ceremony’ – the cohort presented their ideas and recommendations to the Board for formal acceptance into the business and handover.
At the time of writing the first cohort had graduated from the programme with four real teams having successfully and confidently presented their project plans to the Board. As a direct result, business improvement and cost saving projects were identified and implemented with real outputs expected to add in excess of £1m to the bottom line profits of the Group.
Candidates for senior roles were also identified for the succession plan. And managers are now thinking strategically rather than operationally, communicating effectively at all levels and delivering professional presentations to a very senior audience. They are leading their teams in new and dynamics ways. Four candidates were promoted either during or with 1 month of the end of the programme.
Jonathan Turner, BSS Branch Manager Carlisle
This programme has been far more informative and enjoyable loading my managerial tool chest with information that can be utilised in all areas of management and that can be drawn upon when required. In addition to Sarah Cave’s superb tutorial skills, I have connected with other managers of our business that I would have had little chance of working with, or able to develop a sound working relationship with. Yes, they’re having hurdles to jump over and poles to limbo under, but through the other side companionship and camaraderie have remained strong.