Touchwood design and manufacture beautiful wooden playgrounds for the public sector and commercial organisations – if you have children in Bristol or The South West you may have come across their work in the grounds of the lovely National Trust house, Tyntesfield.
Tim began working at Touchwood three years ago, in November 2016. He joined as Managing Director taking over from the founder of the business at a point when large-scale growth was on the cards.
Immediately recognising that there was lots to do to get the untraditional working teams into the right shape to enable scaling, Tim decided to draft in support. And having met Corine through another one of our clients, he asked us in for a chat.
Having undertaken a review of the business, Tim, along with Joe the founder, put in place a goal to double sales over the next 2-3 years. But with no real leadership team in place and a disparate set of employees – experts in their own right but with no experience of stepping up, Tim knew they were facing a huge challenge.
The Touchwood business is a busy environment – it does a lot of different things, so keeping on top of the day to day operations had always been hard for Joe, let alone adding in a layer of management and the strategic planning activity that goes with it. It’s a problem we often see when a business begins a stage of fast growth.
What Did We Do?
Initially we proposed a 6-12-month bespoke programme. Tim had a plan to double turnover, but the strategy behind it needed developing and a team needed to be identified in order to deliver on it. The programme devised by Spring Leadership was one that allowed time for individual one-to-one coaching as well as plenty of opportunity to work on pulling the right team together and helping them to make decisions more effectively as a group.
Most importantly it allowed the flexibility to guide Tim and Joe towards their goals, adjusting the mechanisms for doing this based on their changing needs. Put simply, each time we worked with Touchwood we focused on finding ways to support them through the issues they were facing at that time, as well as helping them to take a step back and spend time looking at and addressing the bigger picture. This could have been through sharing theory and delivery of specific skills and strategy workshops. Or alternatively observing and facilitating the team in action and helping them make connections and have the conversations that really mattered.
Tim describes Steve and Corine as his “wingmen in trying to develop the team…it’s like having another couple of coaches on the sideline.”
And the Results?
The overall benefit of working with Spring Leadership, according to Tim, has been that of ‘professionalising’ the new team and getting them to start sharing the load. He says it’s helped him gain a greater understanding of the personalities and skills of the team members allowing him to put these to best use, resulting not only in a more effective team, but more confident individuals too.
“We sit down as a group on a Monday morning and check in with each other about how we’re doing as a team, how it looks to the company and how we’re interacting and communicating. We’re much more comfortable at expressing whether things are going well or not.”
Tim reports that it’s also made the team more flexible. “We understand that our plans aren’t linear; they might change halfway through the year. The coaching has helped us, as a team, to recognise where the obstacles have been thrown at us and we’ve been able to jump on them, alter our position and still work together to achieve our plan.“
He also credits the programme with increasing profitability through improving staff retention. It has bred a group of individuals who have more confidence in their abilities, their responsibilities and the support of the team around them, and who now have the competence to make decisions independently. “It means we save money, address issues much more quickly and we have a network of brains out there to make better quality decisions.”
“And it’s so much easier too.”
“In our business there are so many opportunities to mess up. If you can improve decision making, accuracy and quality by 20%, or even 10%, there’s a huge financial benefit to that. And that’s what’s happened.”
So, What’s Next?
Tim and Joe have started a second coaching programme, working with Spring Leadership to focus on how to evolve the business over the next 5 years.
“We have a plan in place and the target is to double the turnover by the end of 2021. Our team structure is in place and we know what we have to do. And I’d be disappointed if Steve and Corine weren’t involved on and off in the long term.”
“You can set time aside to go and have strategy discussions, but if you set time aside and you’re partnered by these guys then the outcomes are significantly more effective.
They help make the time spent working together be more productive.”