Macintosh Wright worked with Ageas to review the remit and performance of a team which exists to support their Distribution and Development area including the Account Executives and other Account Managers.
Jonathan Dixon, Head of Corporate Partnerships who has responsibility for the team and describes the results as ‘The House that Allison Built’, takes up the story:-
“ The issues we had were around productivity, efficiencies and quality of work. It wasn’t about the team not being capable. The people within the team had really lost their direction, their self esteem and didn’t understand the value they could contribute.
We asked Allison to go in, lift the carpets and give us a download of what was going on in there.
She started off by listening and observing – but what she really brought was quite special in a way. She not only looked at the team, but also at the much bigger picture – who the team worked for and worked with, how they needed to engage with their customers internally and with the Brokers. She also talked to the team’s customers, all the field staff, the Managers who run them and asked, what works, what doesn’t work , who does a good job, who doesn’t do a good job?
All of this then gave a clear view of the problem and meant we could create a clear view of the solution and this we developed through engagement with all the stakeholders who come back to the House, if you like.
The defining moment for me was when I saw what Allison was able to do when she began to implement that plan. She didn’t just go in to fight the fire. She took a considered approach to the whole thing – the people as well as the work output so that, in terms of implementation, it was measured and her plan was clearly laid out as to her approach for implementation.
And that’s where I was particularly impressed. She set out her parameters about what she wanted to see and by when. She sent out clear statements to the team that we were going to change. We asked ourselves how do we portray those messages without being too blunt. But we knew we might have to be blunt sometimes and one or two individuals did need a bit of a shake – but Allison is pretty good at that as well. She knew when the time was right to roll her sleeves up and remind some members of the team, we are actually on a journey here.
She was very clear from the outset, she managed that all the way through by saying ‘look we are now here at this part of the journey, we are here, we are on this part of the journey. Let’s look back, what have we achieved, are you all comfortable with it?’
And we started to see results.
That on-boarding proved very valuable – it was a case of saying we’re on a journey, this is what we’re going to achieve, that’s the vision over there. And there were some hard truths in there, some difficult conversations to be had but gradually we saw people climbing on, taking ownership, taking responsibility. The people stuff was tricky because old habits die hard, but the team is vastly different in what it does now and that’s why I think we have been successful and why Allison and the team have been able to deliver those results. She was able to change their mindsets as much as she was able to change what they actually did and got them working better. They’re more efficient, more capable.
We’ve changed the shape of the team, the infrastructure, the way they work and their responsibilities. And what Allison has left behind is a team that doesn’t need her anymore because they have been empowered and have confidence in their abilities.
We’re delivering to our customers and our world, i.e. the business, is a better place for it.
So when you wrap all of that up and say as a project was it a success, it was an undoubted success. We haven’t just fixed the engine, we’ve actually put more gears on it, made it stronger and more efficient..
Finally, in terms of the skills that Allison brought to this project, well firstly, she’s got the right temperament. The right way of going about things. She doesn’t seek to judge without reason and her approach is very measured. Throughout my dealings with her, I always found her honest, trustworthy and fair. And passionate. She brings a lot of passion to what she does. We found her very engaging, someone who will sit and listen. Someone who would take stock of what people were saying but not just accept what they were saying. She can see things from both sides. If she doesn’t agree she will push back and say I think you’re being out of order, I think you’re being unreasonable, as much as she would say I think you’re bang on, or whatever.
Her reasoned approach does gain a lot of respect from people. And she doesn’t dazzle you with Management speak. She talks from the heart. She says that’s how I feel and that’s how I think about things. And when it comes that way, you can’t argue against it. So to continue the analogy, what we have now is a House that can be built on, one we can extend because it’s on firm foundations. It gives us a lot more opportunity and we can start looking more strategically at how it will play a bigger role for us. And if you align that to where the Ageas business is, on a massive growth curve, all of a sudden, the capabilities, the competencies that are within that team become far more important.
It’s actually going to play a much bigger part of the business because now it can!