A global manufacturer based in Ireland was struggling to manage legacy industrial relations issues that were compounded by the global recession. The business needed to make changes to processes and systems in order to move forward, but every time improvements were suggested the negotiations with the Unions were taking months, meaning implementation was taking far longer than desired for the sustainability of the business. In turn, managers were often deferring decision making and not guiding their people or explaining the reason behind changes. The business was stagnating, and industrial relations were so poor that wildcat strikes were breaking out, further compounding problems.

The management sought support from outside the business and were recommended to the team at 3SIXTY by the CEO at another Irish manufacturing company who had worked with us to turn their organisation around

From the beginning of the project we knew we needed to get to the bottom of what was really going on at the customer – there were clearly underlying cultural issues that meant the workforce was resisting change.

We carried out our ‘Pulse’ exercise – a comprehensive series of one to ones and group meetings with over 60 people from all levels of the business. Participation was completely voluntary and anonymous, and we had recommended that the outputs and recommendations from the exercise would be presented to the workforce at the same time as management – meaning there was no room to hide anything. We were clear that this was necessary to demonstrate openness and to shift the dial on trust. This type of listening exercise was very much a new departure for the business, and they were keen to show that they were open to the results.  

The outputs of the survey showed that the staff believed decision making was consolidated in a small group of people, with little input from elsewhere in the business. Feedback was seen as negative and communication was one way and only to make announcements about negative business impacts.

After we had compiled the results and our recommendations, hard copies of the report were delivered to staff on the shop floor whilst soft copies were distributed to everyone else. The staff were able to see the un-cut results of the survey and that meant that they realised that management was serious about delivering on the recommendations.

Going forward communications shifted to becoming more open and two way. Whereas previously management had only communicated when something was wrong or via notices on the wall, they now made sure that regular Town Hall events were held, and that these were two way – giving their people opportunities to ask questions and give feedback.  

There was also a recognition that the business had often promoted senior technical people into people management roles without support, so we designed and implemented a Leadership Development programme for all managers, providing structure and guidance as to their role as people managers. Over a year, we rolled out 12 different modules of learning to over 80 managers at all levels within the business, which improved communication and helped leaders to effectively ‘lead’ their teams.

Over the course of the year morale across the business increased significantly, with resulting improvements in business performance. Unions were openly engaging, and change programmes were able to unlock success within the business. The company was able to turn the corner towards a sustainable future.

To find out more about how 3SIXTY could help turn your business around email us at hello@your3SIXTY.ie or fill in our contact form here