The Managing Director (MD) of a long-established SME approached us as she knew where she wished to take the business and yet success was elusive and goals were not being achieved. Sales needed a boost and the customer-base needed broadening. How could she achieve the shift she believed was possible to improve team working and boost sales?
Start from where you are
The MD had a view of where she wanted to take the business but felt stuck, yet lacking a real sense of what was blocking progress. It was clear to her that sales needed a boost. Our first step was to help her generate a sense of ‘where we are now’ and what would create energy and motivation to boost sales and move the company forward.
Over the coming months we worked with a team of seven, including the MD. The team completed the Strengthscope self-reports and a team instrument; this enabled them to start by understanding their personal strengths and the strengths of the team. The staff were invited to share, confidentially, their views by completing the Strengthscope Staff Engagement Index.
Creating a shift
A shift in how the team worked together was achieved by short workshops that created space for them to:
- Share strengths and understand how to work on non-strengths;
- Build an awareness of the team strengths;
- Establish a business strategy, priorities and goals that they were all committed to.
Between workshops there was work on revising job roles, introducing regular team meetings, monthly 1-1’s and regular performance reviews. Each of these built upon what was highlighted in the Strengthscope reports.
The reports had shown many common strengths within the team; significant strengths included detail orientation, efficiency, compassion and collaboration. In practice, this meant that too much effort was going into ensuring efficiency and being supportive of each other. They recognised that time was being spent on unproductive tasks and the team was ‘sympathetic and nice’ but with little real focus on goals and the end product.
The real gaps that the reports highlighted were in the relational quadrant of the report (Table 1). This resulted in little leadership internally, externally too little attention was on generating sales through not being persuasive nor building relationships.
Equally the Staff Engagement Index painted a picture of a happy team where employees actually craved performance feedback and more communication about the business.
When an opportunity to recruit occurred, we were able to identify candidates motivated and energised through strengths that could enhance the team and business performance.
Building on the workshops and the actions from them, progress was monitored and achievement tracked. Three successive months of record sales showed all that could be achieved and this was highly motivating for everyone.
The formal and informal feedback is indicating that:
- the team is working together more productively and with greater focus;
- there are improved sales and profit;
- customer satisfaction is higher;
- employees are reporting enhanced morale and increased job satisfaction.
Achievements offer the opportunity for acknowledging success, celebrating and learning. There is now a strong foundation upon which to build, and a strengths-focus provides a positive approach to recruitment, retention, development and team working.
An SME cannot stand still. By being open to understanding the blockages to progress, this MD opened up the opportunity to listen, learn and achieve her ambitions for improved team work and to boost sales.
Table 1: The strengths quadrants