Management development is key to fit-out company’s success
(16 November 2006)
Managers at Morris & Spottiswood, a leading fit-out maintenance and social housing company, are celebrating after sharpening their skills and their business direction following support from Durham Business School.
17 senior and middle managers have successfully completed the second round of bespoke management development programmes devised by the Business School, in a bid to improve leadership skills and increase synergy across the business. The partnership arose following a major board restructure in 2004, which led to Morris & Spottiswood approaching the Business School to create two tailored management programmes, with Chartered Management Institute (CMI) status. When the development programmes began in 2004, the company's combined turnover from its operations (in interior fit-out, social housing and maintenance services) was around £90m. By the time the first set of programmes ended in 2005, that figure had risen to over £102m and is heading for a projected £130m for 2006. Morris & Spottiswood HR director, Allan Boyd, a programme attendee himself, felt that managers' leadership skills needed to be brought up to speed if the restructure was to be successful. He said: “We needed a programme that would give mid-level and senior managers a greater awareness of management and leadership. "Traditionally, senior managers weren't aware of the wider aspects of the business and how they operate. While senior managers were proficient in their own area of management, they needed a better understanding of the business as a whole." Consultants at the Business School worked with senior managers on the 18-month Enterprise Management programme which addresses improving strategic and operational awareness, while middle managers in the company have completed the School’s 10-month Professional Development programme. The work based projects led to a level 5 Diploma in Management and level 7 Executive Diploma in Management from the Chartered Management Institute. So far, over half of the programmes’ participants have gone on to pursue the Durham Business School Executive Masters in Enterprise Management. Such growth has come about at a time of major consolidation within the sector, with businesses facing greater competition to retain good senior managers. Craig Murie, a director at Morris & Spottiswood, is part of the senior managerial cohort to complete the Enterprising Management Programme. He said: “It was an extremely enjoyable course which has proved to be beneficial on both a personal and business level. It has given me a far greater awareness and understanding of many of the key elements of management and leadership. “The benefits of the programme are already being realised across the business, with the knowledge gained being used to drive strategy and facilitate improvements in financial management. “Another key benefit is the positive team spirit developed by the senior management team involved. The strong bond that was formed in the team during the programme has continued and developed into a ‘Durham’ culture, and plays its part in the current success of the business.” Commenting on the company’s decision to invest in people development, HR director Allan Boyd, said: “I’m delighted with the results we are seeing from working with Durham Business School. They have put a tremendous amount of effort into making the programmes work and there have been almost universal plaudits for their approach.” Managers from the company’s different offices in Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow, have also benefited from coming together and having a chance to share ideas. “The type of training we’re undertaking is creating a real win-win situation,” added Mr Boyd, “giving managers a much greater understanding of how they can work with colleagues for the benefit of the business and increase their skills base.” The choice of Durham Business School was also important, Mr Boyd adds: "Durham met our requirements on a number of points - its location was accessible to all our managers from Scotland and the North of England, yet at the same time it was far enough away to give a break from daily work issues. However, Mr Boyd felt it exceeded the company's expectations as well. "The tailor-made courses met our business needs exactly and the quality of the business school, with its reputation for excellence in the SME field, delivered first-class learning to our participants. Everyone who has taken part - including myself – has felt a great sense of pride and achievement in what we have done." Durham is the only business school in the UK to have a team dedicated to meeting the needs of medium sized enterprises. It was this specialism and the flexible approach taken to designing both programmes, which Dr Bill Snaith, the School’s director of programmes in medium enterprise development, says won them the business. “We recognise the particular pressures facing medium-sized businesses and therefore tailor our programmes accordingly. For example, we re-wrote the strategy module specifically to reflect Morris & Spottiswood’s precise business needs.” “The company is gaining major benefits from its investment in the development of its managers. This trust and investment in their senior staff has been paid back many times through improved management style and attitude, quality of work and significant changes made to the way the organisation performs,” said Dr Snaith. “This exciting venture has given Morris & Spottiswood a strong confident management team fit for the future. The continuation of its senior managers onto the Masters in Enterprise Management at the Business School is clear evidence that they have both enjoyed and benefited from their experience. We are very pleased with the effect these programmes have had on Morris and Spottiswood and hope to continue working with the company in the future.” Durham Business School also run the Executive Masters in Enterprise Management as an open programme allowing people from a mix of organisations to attend. The programme commences on 28 November, for which places are still places available. To find out more contact Vicky Welsh, Programme Co-ordinator Tel: 0191 334 5548 or visit www.dur.ac.uk/dbs.