How businesses can bounce back after a challenging period

by Justine Shaw – People & Culture Director, CPP Group

After a challenging period in a business, it can be tempting to sit back and wait for things to get better. But to successfully bounce back and to enable the business to be even more successful than before, action needs to be taken.

CPP Group are a partner focused, global product and services company that specialises in the financial services and insurance markets. Following a public regulatory intervention in 2011 we were challenged commercially and culturally. To overcome this, we recognised it was time to transform our culture and we took a number of deliberate approaches to do it.

We’re now in a phase of significant growth, with a presence in 12 markets around the world and seeing an increase in our customer numbers by over 50 per cent in 2018. This turnaround was encouraged through changes in our internal culture, which I helped lead through inward and laser-like focus on the type of culture that would be the driving force of our commercial growth.

Here are our key learnings:


1. Acknowledge it’s time for a change

Recognising the size of the challenge and acknowledging that cultural evolution or revolution may be required is daunting in itself. It can be difficult, however businesses need to be brave and look critically at behaviours and drivers, which requires an inward focus on both the positive and negative aspects of culture.

Once this is done, businesses should roadmap their journey and set milestones to keep on track through stealth and a deliberate focus.


2. Make culture change a collaborative process

Creating a culture isn’t down to leadership, it’s something that all people in an organisation shape every day. This is why it’s vital that colleagues are involved right from the beginning as they know the company better than anyone.

Acknowledge how your colleagues are feeling during this emotionally challenging time and get them involved in identifying the right behaviours for them and the business.


3. Work towards your vision and narrative together

Once you have a clear vision, relentlessly communicate it together with your colleagues and focus on the behaviours you all value. It is so important to have everyone working together towards the same agreed focus.

At CPP, we believe in a culture of acting and learning, acknowledging that our values may change as the organisation evolves and progresses. Remember that it is a collaborative approach when working towards a vision together.


4. Emphasis on colleague development

Research and experience tells us that successful business transformation depends on people, so it is important to set time aside and invest in your people.

When morale is low, it’s essential to increase confidence in colleagues which can be done through investment in programmes that focus on their development, which we did with our Accelerant programme, for example. We have invested in award-winning coaches to design a programme that has significantly grown and motivated our talent.

By putting emphasis on colleagues and having open and honest conversations with them, they are more likely to feel valued and work with you to navigate through the business’s challenges.


5. Introduce a new environment

It’s also important to physically bring values to life, so that colleagues can see changes are being made, for example one of our key values is Working Together. This can be done through introducing a new environment – whether this be updating your current workspace or moving office completely. We moved most of our corporate functions in late 2017 to the heart of Leeds, a vibrant hub for tech and digital industries, creating a community, an energy and a focus on people. It’s making a real difference in attracting and retaining brilliant people.

At the forefront of navigating through a challenging period is creating an organisational community that everyone wants to be part of, while being adaptable to changes and taking time to recognise and celebrate your cultural successes as they happen.

This article was originally featured in People Management

Justine Shaw – People & Culture Director

Justine has over 20 years’ experience in senior strategic and operational HR roles in the UK and Canada, spanning telecom, financial services and consulting/professional engineering. Since joining CPP in February 2012, she has held the roles of Group HR Director and Chief People Officer with a focus on talent and a positive performance culture. Justine has a Bachelor of Science in Applied and Human Biology.

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