by Paula on July 11, 2012

As those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I am a bit of a fan of the type of music that is so beautifully packaged under CD titles like “Dad Rocks!”. There’s no doubt that the music I listen to influences my mood and different songs and different lyrics reach out to me at different points in my life.

“No, you can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometime, you just might find, You get what you need”

This Rolling Stones lyric has got me thinking this morning. My career spans over 20 years now (Yes I really am that old!) and has mainly been employed roles in Finance, Management & Business Operations. The roles I had allowed me to make a difference – to drive change, to help people grow into the job roles they aspired to, to organise and create structure and efficiency in the businesses around me.

One thing though that was a strong element of every project I lead, every challenge I faced, every success I had, was the people. Recognising and supporting talent, facilitating friction with management and teams, getting the right people in the right place, motivated correctly to get personal satisfaction from achieving the company’s goals.

As a self-employed person bringing these skills and expertise to smaller businesses with a great need for this service, I sometimes struggle with the really important element of helping businesses understand that they need to put this greater emphasis on the people in order to create an efficient, profitable and happy place to work.

So often, Directors don’t want to be involved in the day to day and yet without creating the right environment for them to step back and focus on the bigger picture, they are being dragged into seemingly minor people issues daily.

Every sales book you read, any sales course you go on will tell you to identify your potential client’s pain and fix it. Being niche and focusing on exactly what you do and how it can help them is key.

When it comes to referrals from people who’ve worked with me this matters less. However to a new audience I have a problem of helping people understand that what they need and what they think they want are not always the same.

Case Study

A recent client called me in because a procedure to get product X out of the door in 2 weeks was not working and it was taking much longer. My remit was to improve the procedure.

What I actually found was one person completely overwhelmed by his role and completely unsuited to the role he was doing. Another person who was unhappy and looking to leave and being a negative influence on those around him. Another person who had aspirations and ability to lead the team yet felt unable to do so due to perceived lack of support from above.

In this scenario there was no procedure that could be put in place that would make a difference. What the job became was Director coaching, a member of staff leaving by choice, recruitment to a new role, on the job management training and re-structuring of the internal procedures to suit people’s individual way of doing things. 

So my challenge is, bringing the skills and passion I have to make a difference operationally through individuals & teams, to businesses who don’t recognise the people issues until I’m there…

If you have any suggestions that you’d like to share, I’d welcome them. If you’d like to tell me about your services that help with this niche identifying, please do. If you’d like to recommend someone who helped you similarly, I’d love to hear from you.

And an added thought! If you’re a Director who would like to informally chat about the issues in your business & how I might help you, I’d welcome your call.


Thank you :-)


Paula White July 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

Hi Rob.

It certainly takes a brave Director to accept a 360 degree feedback but it’s a great way of him/her really demonstrating commitment to improvement and change. Real credit to you for being so receptive to that with your teams.

I spent a really useful day yesterday really honing down on the things that work, the things that are needed and how they might be offered and had a few light bulb moments.

Thanks for your support & interest. Look forward to sharing more as I go.


Rob Hicks July 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Hi Paula,

Sorry I missed this reply! Pleased the light bulb went on a few times.

Rob Hicks July 12, 2012 at 7:45 am

Hi, my suggestion would be:

You or the client construct a Training and Development needs analysis, which is completed prior to you going into the business. This could be completed by management and the workforce – you can then see if there is a dis-connect (I don’t like that word!) between what both parties feel.

I would also conduct a confidential staff opinion survey (company wide), including questions on process improvements and motivation factors and present the findings to the management prior to ‘going in’.

I believe that way both you and the client will have a better clarity of purpose.

paula July 12, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hi Rob.

Thanks for the feedback. The results of a survey like that would certainly highlight the type of issues and potential for improvement that I would often end up working with. Pitching it in such a way that the Director doesn’t feel undermined by finding out things through a third party is always a sensitive issue though that I need to handle carefully.

My other experience is that people are afraid to commit to paper their honest feelings and thoughts however confidential you propose it is. It’s face to face I feel I can learn and understand the true blockages and motivating factors of the individuals and teams. I definitely think the initial findings package though is the right way to start – almost impossible to propose solutions without really understanding the problem.

Many thanks again for sharing this – will think and build on it and let you know how I get on.


Rob Hicks July 12, 2012 at 10:18 am

Hi Paula,

Yes I agree, confidentiality can be an issue especially with a small team. The other way to go is open, honest, two way communication. This obviously requires you persuading the Director to be receptive to feedback!

When I was a manager, I was a big fan of 360° feedback and my teams never seemed to hold back!

I would be pleased to hear how you progress.

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