The Brakes Group is a leading European supplier to the catering industry, with over 50 years’ experience. In the UK, nearly 6,800 staff work in 48 locations across the country.
The arrival of a new CEO at Brakes confirmed what had already been revealed by a McKinsey High Performing Organisation survey: as part of a 5-year business plan, managers needed to move from an over-authoritative leadership style to actively encouraging and valuing employees’ contribution.
Lane4 worked with Brakes to design and develop a programme to significantly improve business performance. This programme has now been completed by 500 Brakes leaders over two years.
A transformational workshop
At the core of the programme was a highly experiential workshop, running over two and a half days. This was held on a holiday park, requiring Brakes managers to live in basic accommodation in close quarters with colleagues from across the business.
Alison Townson, Leadership Development and Talent Director at Brakes Group, says, “Lane4 moved quickly and together we built the strong partnership essential to delivering over 20 workshops. The workshop proved transformational and our managers still talk about it today. It certainly took them outside their comfort zone and we could see mindsets changing, as they were challenged to look at situations from a new angle. As a food business, we wanted food to feature, so workshop participants cooked a meal together and shared their leadership journeys. This built fantastic rapport within a short space of time.”
Alison emphasises, “This foundation of trust was vital in helping our managers to successfully give and receive 360-degree feedback in small groups using the feedback tool developed by Lane4. This formed a fundamental part of the programme and these groups continue to meet to develop their action learning.”
Breaking down organisational silos
Describing the long-term impact of the workshop, Alison says, “We’ve received great feedback. Managers say they can now simply pick up the phone to instantly access knowledge and advice from their counterparts. This improved cross-functional cooperation has brought great efficiencies to the business.”
She adds, “We’re keeping the momentum going with Lane4 to build a high-performing organisation. Over 90 managers have already taken part in the communications academy developed in partnership with Comment8, Lane4’s communications and engagement consultancy, and we’re also going forward with coaching.”
Alison’s own observations are backed by internal surveys that quantify the benefits of the programme. She says, “The ‘game changers’ include empowering their teams, listening more, and making better decisions. Meanwhile, in our engagement surveys, our workforce as a whole report seeing a significant, 3-point improvement in the way their manager encourages their contribution, and there’s been a 5-point increase in the numbers agreeing that they have the training and development to progress their careers.”
Key benefits of the Accelerated Leadership Programme:
94% of leaders say the programme has changed their thinking and 92% say it has changed their behaviour
Greater efficiency by creating a pool of knowledge and experience for managers to access
Significantly improved leadership and engagement scores
The programme was awarded Bronze for Best Leadership Development Programme at 2016 Training Journal Awards.