Unveiling the bigger picture to future leaders worldwide
How training programmes are helping managers to gain culture-independent insights
DEK (now ASMPT) is a global organisation, supplying screen printing equipment and associated support processes. Founded in 1968, it has 700 employees in offices around the world. Its headquarters are in Switzerland, while its main engineering and production facility is in Weymouth, UK.
In 2010, DEK’s human resources director, Dave Mudge, and chief information officer, Ian Bleazard, each enrolled on an open, multi-module leadership and management course.
What was the issue?
Their aim was to refresh their knowledge and gain new ideas on strategic leadership to take back to DEK. Both directors found the course relatively unexceptional … until they each attended a module run by trainer and coach, Ian Banister.
‘Here was a guy with an incredible ability to assimilate situations put to him by delegates from completely different organisations and disciplines,’ says Dave. ‘He skilfully built upon each concept, encouraging strategic thought and challenging people’s perceptions in a most supportive and engaging way.’
‘Ian’s much more than a trainer’, adds Ian Bleazard, ‘he’s also a brilliant coach and extremely business-savvy.’
What did Ian do to help?
Dave and Ian Bleazard agreed that Ian Banister was exactly the resource DEK needed to help its mid-to-senior managers to think and act more commercially. ‘We’re all prone to getting sucked into the day-to-day and not putting as much as we ought to into considering the greater strategy, or indeed why it’s important to do so,’ explains Dave. ‘This means that, in turn, managers are not developing their teams to think strategically,’ he continues. ‘We call it “staring at our shoes”, when really, we need to be looking out to the horizon.’
Dave and the two Ian’s discussed in detail DEK’s aspirations, its managers and the various geographic cultures in which they operate. Then, with the close involvement of the team, Ian Banister developed DEK’s Future Leaders Programme (FLP): a residential course which runs from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. The first course, in September 2011, brought together 12 managers – six from the UK and six from across Europe, the US and Asia. Covering a comprehensive range of topics, including strategic management, sales, marketing and operations, personal styles and coaching conversations, the course was a fast-paced mix of training, coaching, discussion and exercises. Ian also invited the input of “guest speakers” from DEK, to help put best practice examples into context, and co-presented some sessions with HR trainer Fiona Campbell (now solar sales office manager).
What was the outcome?
‘I’ve worked alongside quite a few trainers and Ian is by far the easiest – and most pleasurable – to work with,’ says Fiona. ‘He has an incredible ability to pick up the pulse of a business and its culture. He developed helpful structures and ideas for our managers, rather than forcing frameworks on them. I learned so much from his stories and his background – he brings real-life experiences to the group and discusses different approaches, pulling in all sorts of material to bring clarity to each learning point.’
‘Ian genuinely wants to get the best out of people,’ continues Fiona. ‘You actually feel his will for you to develop. And even though delegates worked very hard, and late into the evening, they were always keen to do the exercises. Ian’s a clever man, managing to continuously motivate 12 people in one room. Yes, very clever.’
Delegate Clare Del Gallo, UK HR manager, is equally effusive: ‘I’d been on various management training courses before but this one was extremely good – excellent, in fact. Ian maintained high energy levels within the group and we learned a great deal – but he also made it fun. We did some preparatory work, exploring underlying theories, before working individually and in groups, layering on top the practicalities of how we do things at DEK. It was challenging but enjoyable and certainly invigorating. I can’t think of a single negative point about this course.’
Dave monitors the effects of the course across the group. ‘It’s fair to say we have witnessed a mind-set change across the managers who have been on the course so far,’ he says. ‘Product engineering managers, sales managers, technical managers – each can now see themself as a business manager in their own right, specialising in the sales and delivery of their particular expertise within the context of the long-term corporate strategic goals. Things have definitely changed: they question, challenge, think.’
Feedback has been tremendous,’ Dave continues. ‘Ian hits the spot no matter what country or culture the delegate operates in. One senior manager from China likened it to his days as a submariner. He felt that, just like when he emerged from the narrow horizons of months on a submarine to see the whole, wide world in front of him, Ian’s course had opened his eyes to the far horizons of commerce in general and DEK in particular. Another delegate, from Malaysia, felt the need to apologise, realising he had not been managing his people at all.’
The FLP programme has now been delivered every year since 2011 and as of September 2017 experienced by over 50 managers from around the world and is now part of DEK’s fabric, core to its management development programme. There are now plans for the emerging mangers to follow up on the success of the FLP programme – watch this space
‘Ian’s training is really, really positive – it ticks every box we wanted and hits the mark with everyone,’ concludes Ian Bleazard. ‘He’s the best resource we could wish for.’