Changing Culture to enhance Productivity Levels.

Thursday, 05 September 2019
Changing Culture to enhance Productivity Levels.

Client Situation

ISSUES: Managers and supervisors had to be micro-managed due to lack of responsibility, accountability and ownership. Loss in market share resulted due to client product delivering deadlines not being met.

APPROACH MADE BY: CEO and Financial Director - Manufacturing

Status Quo Observations and Findings

After spending time in that environment, speaking to staff, understanding their challenges, roles and goals within the organisation the following became evident:

  • A culture of fear and autocracy existed.
  • Staff were not adequately trained: many had come up through the ranks over decades without any management or supervisory training.
  • Staff were submissive, afraid to speak out and petrified to take responsibility due to the consequences of not delivering to perfection.
  • The management team – most of whom had been working there for 30 – 40 years - had built a culture of “telling” and “demanding”, rather than asking and engaging.
  • The absenteeism levels were soaring; drug and alcohol problems were rife.
  • Coaching did not exist and very seldom did 1-2-1 discussion of any kind take place.
  • Performance appraisals were seen as a tick box event based on favouritism.
  • Staff would rather lie about issues than admit a mistake, as consequences were dire: blame, humiliation, warning and loss of job or fewer hours, which would then impact on their earnings with obvious detriment to family income.
  • Departments worked in silos, in competition with each other rather than collaboratively.
  • The lack of communication filtering down throughout the organisation and cross- functionally led to a lack of transparency, mistrust and poor co-operation.

Input by CCS-Gazing


  • An alignment process at Executive Level was conducted. Once this level of the organisation was on the same page and moving in the same direction, the same exercise was facilitated for the Management Team.
  • Introduction of a management training programme to drive skills and leadership development, as most of the managers in this team had become managers due to years and decades of service and had very little if any skills to manage and lead teams.
  • Practical, hands-on workshops were held over subsequent months resulting in greater unity and co-operation:
    • Delegates started working together outside of their functional roles and understood the tremendous impact they have on one another and how critical it was for them to pull together and support rather than work against one another.
    • The silo effect started to lessen and they decided to meet as a team every morning for half an hour to share their respective goals and challenges in order to gain support from one another and be proactive in sorting out issues, rather than being reactive and continually ‘putting out fires’.
    • A monthly Friday afternoon social was introduced, which has also aided the process of understanding one another better, building trust and really becoming a cohesive team.
    • Executive level management no longer felt the need to micro manage as they saw that targets were being met, quality issues sorted out and client’s expectations delivered on time. This enabled the Management Team to operate with ‘more freedom’ (direct quotation) and make their own decisions, which enhanced their feeling of being trusted. A win-win situation all round.
    • The atmosphere in that environment turned from negativity, fear and no co-operation to a harmonious, positive and agreeable place in which to operate.
  • A similar intervention was then done with Supervisors, based on their skill requirements, roles and responsibilities. This entailed reviews of Job Descriptions and KPI’s, as well as spending time with them in their work environment understanding their roles, challenges and pressures.

Evidence of Change Success

  • A new culture started to emerge when the Supervisors started to apply the skills taught and were encouraged by management to provide their input and expertise.
  • There was initial reluctance, but the more management started to engage by involving them and complimenting them on their achievements instead of blaming them for what went wrong, the most incredible change took place in this environment. Management started to realise that this group held a wealth of organisational knowledge, skills and experience.
  • A culture of investigation, listening and asking for solutions started to emerge which lead to Supervisors accepting responsibility, taking control or influencing situations instead of just shying away. Members of Management were more visible and involved, instead of being office-bound. This was noticed and appreciated by the staff who responded positively.
  • An award for the employee of the month was started which became an incredible motivator and the more the environment changed into a place where people greeted one another, took an interest, communicated and provided feedback, the more the staff reporting to the Supervisors also started to come forward with solutions and suggestions.
  • The CEO started a regular Wednesday company update session which everyone could attend and the more staff understood the ‘big picture’ and why decisions had to be made, the more they took an interest, asked questions and offered solutions. Transparency improved the levels of trust and this had a ripple effect throughout the organisation as everyone was involved. Even union members started to question the shop stewards, when they felt that they were not working towards the goals of the company but rather against them.


  • The levels of empowerment soared and an atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm evolved as staff started to meet targets that had not been achieved before.
  • Reduction in absenteeism.
  • Drop in product scrap levels.
  • Customers that were at times using a competitive product were now ordering 100% of their stock from the client.
  • Improvement in market share and new customers were on board.
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