“We were really busy running jobs ourselves and attracting new business. That’s one of the reasons we embraced the change being led by Peter Cox. Changing the way we thought. Until you are prepared to really invest in your Company, surrounding yourself with the right people but also formalising it, you are just going to tread water and go hard.”
Before being led by Peter Cox we’d have a conversation around the coffee machine. Are you doing that job? Make sure you do a good job type of thing. That was about the extent of it. But at that stage too we were really busy, we were running jobs ourselves, attracting new business etc. That’s one of the reasons we kind of embraced the change. Changing the way we thought. Until you are prepared to really invest in your company, surrounding yourself with the right people but also formalising it you are just going to tread water and go hard.
When that formality was introduced into the business, those that couldn’t cope with it or those that didn’t want to change and embrace it have fallen by the wayside.
Yes. As a matter of fact we have really learned a lot through that. Just one of the decisions that, almost like a rule we live by now, is the day you think you should get rid of somebody is the day you should do it. You don’t think you can change them you don’t think you can manage them better or not you just got to move them on. We are being a bit more decisive. We used to go “Oh, they’ll change, it will be okay. Let’s just do this” but nowadays it is so clear.
“I’m a big believer in change and I understand that it is absolutely necessary. It has to happen and I’m all for it but sometimes my staff don’t like it.”
I’m a big believer in change and I understand that it’s absolutely necessarily, it’s like breathing. It has to happen and I’m all for it. My problem is that I sometimes forget that my staff don’t quite like it, and it does cause some problems because I’m all for it.
“The influence that I learned from Peter definitely helped me move from Sales Director to Managing Director. It has motivated me to firstly start looking at the bigger picture and seeing the potential in it. Before I was led by Peter I would not have expected to have the significant change in my role as what I have. I don’t think I would have pushed to take leadership of the Company. Accountability and Responsibility are two things that Peter has really impressed on me. If I had tried to implement some of these changes before knowing some of the leadership techniques that Peter has taught me I wouldn’t have done as good a job.”
I’ve only become Managing Director in the last week or two actually. Prior to that I was Sales Director and I think I had maybe 12 to 14 reports. That has changed. We have reduced the number of direct reports obviously but also the role has changed.
The influence that I learned from Peter definitely helped me move from Sales Director to Managing Director. It has motivated me to firstly start looking at the bigger picture. I was a sales person at heart and can sell very well and you always want to stay in your comfort zone. Working with Peter has opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities and ways of stepping back. Being in sales meant that I’m involved in the nitty gritty of every little thing and you can’t look at the big picture – he’s definitely helped me with the bigger picture and seeing the potential in it.
Creating and expecting change, yes I think it’s important. Change is always important in an organisation, I think that if you are static you are going to fail and die so it’s definitely a good thing
Before I was led by Peter I would not have expected to have the significant change in my role as quickly as what I have. I would have stayed a Sales Director for probably another 2-3 years. I don’t think I would have pushed to take leadership of the company and I think ultimately we would have continued to do okay because from a sales point of view every year we would have continued to do our numbers or continue to do the budget but overall, that wouldn’t have been in line with what we are doing now which is major expansion and a lot bigger growth.
The vision has changed since I got behind the wheel. There are a lot of things that Peter has taught. Taking a step back from the business is obviously one thing. Before I was being involved in the day to day little things. Yes, definitely, a good way to describe it was that I was a staff member not a leader.
But also keeping an arm’s length with the staff is a very good thing that he has taught. Just making sure that they understand that you are the boss and that you are there to lead but you can be friendly with them. That has also been a good thing.
Accountability is the other thing. I was always doing one-on-ones with my staff, something that we had ingrained as part of our best practice anyway. But, accountability and responsibility were two things that Peter really impressed on me and I think they are very important. After a one-on-one you really have to hold them accountable to anything that they have said for you next one on one. They need to feel there are consequences for not following through with their commitment as well. Previously I was so busy that I would sit them down, talk about a few things, and come up with a few commitments from their end and what they are going to do. At the next one on one instead of going through the list and making sure they had all been ticked off and finding out why they hadn’t done what they had committed to. It was one of those things that Peter also suggested and it has been very good because people are accountable now and also responsible. I think people themselves and the company culture have changed slightly.
There were changes in the way you went about conducting the one on ones therefore there was a change in their accountability and has that resulted in a change in productivity for instance. I believe so, it’s still early days but I believe so.
Do you also see it as changing potentially the structure of the team. Now that they know they are accountable, now that they know you are fair dinkum about this, that they will be held to a document that they wrote in their words coming up in another month, do you think that will allow for natural attrition? I think so. I think this will highlight a lot more, anyone who thinks that they can’t fit into this culture and into this company. I think people that are unsuited or unable to change it will highlight it. The one thing that I have to remember is to continue to drive on the business not in the business. We have set up quarterly reviews for all the senior management – my direct reports.
We weren’t having that previously. Obviously I wasn’t in the role I was in but we did have quarterly reviews where we were going to present what we were doing with regards to company strategy, with regards to what we were doing and where the company was going. What we had done in the last three months, what we were going to do in the next three months. We hadn’t put anything formal in place. We are doing that now so that there will be formal presentation to the management and the Board with regards to what they had done in the last three months and with regards to our strategy so what they will be doing in the next three months to assist company strategy and the company vision. So these are new things that have come about.
If I had tried to implement some of these changes before knowing some of the leadership techniques that Peter has taught I probably wouldn’t have done as good a job. Would it have been as well received? They are always received probably the same way. No one likes too much change, no one likes doing more work but that expectation makes them improve as well. It forces them to think and change their mindset. It is what Peter actually always says, that if you are a 5 or a 6 in the leadership spectrum then you stop everyone else in your team from growing past a 5 or a 6. I think that definitely by doing these things and improving some of the ways of leading the team, the team have that opportunity to grow and this is one of their first opportunities to really show that.
If someone asked you before you were being led, Sam are you prepared to take on the Managing Directors role? and if you do on a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that the day you step in is the day you are going to start to lead the vision, you are going to implement change and you are going to drive the business into a whole new stratosphere.
Yeah I wouldn’t have been that confident. Now I am confident, I I’m very confident, I’m excited, it is a new thing so it’s going to be a challenge probably but I feel we can do it.
Look, in terms of, again this is going back to business, not really home life, but in terms of – before, you’ve got a sales mentality, you are in the business and everyone is guilty of this. You see a deal or you see an opportunity and it’s a large deal, whatever it is and you get excited about it and you put your effort and energy into closing it which is great and I’m not saying you wouldn’t do that today but it sort of makes you look at things in a sense that okay that is a deal but what’s the benefit of the deal, after the deal. Where is the bigger picture? I would rather build something lasting with some kind of future to it, some strategic benefit than a one off multi- million dollar whatever (unless, that had strategic benefit behind it). So, it’s definitely opened my eyes to just thinking a bit more about the why behind what we are doing and about the where we are going. So, it’s not so much that Peter specifically just said these things but just working with him, sitting with him, taking a step back from the daily grind just makes you think and I think that’s why I really found it useful.
I mean when the deal is big enough. I mean it doesn’t change we still want to win it. We are not saying we don’t want to win it but it makes you think okay I will go for this deal but what can I do off the back of this deal. How can I leverage this to grow a capability or add-on a new function to the company or create a new revenue stream? It’s a lot more than just one-deal, one-hit wonder type thing. It’s been really successful with some of the things we have been doing.
“Also making those guys accountable for the job they are doing. They weren’t accountable before but certain processes were put forward and now they are accountable for everything they do, which is really showing up now with references. That’s been a major change.”