Reddin Group’s David Reddin reflects on one of his greatest partnerships.
While David has been part of many partnerships over the course of his distinguished career, there are some that stand out as being truly powerful.
What began as a recruitment assignment to find a Managing Director for a mining products company, morphed into a true business partnership that spanned more than 16 years and eventually across four countries.
“I was initially engaged to ensure the organisation had the right leadership for the Australian market, and over time I became a trusted HR business advisor and coach. The reason the partnership worked so well was the mutual trust, respect and honesty we had with one another. When you say it like that it sounds so easy, but it took hard work, dedication, patience and a lot of listening”, David reflected.
David talks passionately about consultants needing to listen to their clients to truly understand the business, then come up with smart solutions that are unique to clients and their environment. Only then can you “earn your stripes.”
“As a consultant you often experience organisations reacting to your presence with distrust at the beginning — ‘who is this guy in a suit?’ is a phrase I’ve heard, because you are often talking about things they’ve never tried before. So, yes it can be daunting”.
However, David believes in this situation the benefits of bringing HR consultants into a mining services company were clear.
Once the leadership was recruited and in place, David discovered the organisation had no real HR strategy in place to underpin its growth plans, no consistent recruitment systems and processes in place, no concept of the importance of a talent pipeline as they started to grow fast, no performance management process or systems and no one independent person team members could go to and talk through their problems, doubts and fears and air their grievances.
“Our client was exceptional at what they did — producing mining products, but they were small, growing fast and people at all levels were stretched. They were so busy that the focus was on the here and now. Our early priority was on putting leaders in place who would in turn hire top talent, giving them the time to start thinking bigger picture.
The company hired talent for its potential and backed them with strong development including individualised coaching and support. These new leaders grew fast and formed an increasingly formidable senior team that within a few years had made the Australian business the jewel in the global crown.
The feedback we received was that the partnership assisted the senior leadership team recognise the gaps in the organisation and provided them with the support needed to ensure that the team and organisation both reached their true potential in Australia,” he said.
David explains that he was able to establish a solution for the client that saw them gain a senior resource and trusted advisor, on call for a range of issues and situations at “a fraction of the cost of employing a permanent HR practitioner. Essentially, it took cost and time out of the organisation” he said.
What resulted was an ongoing engagement that took the organisation to new levels. The local MD became a high contributing member of the Global Executive Team, key members of the Australian SLT were offered promotion internationally. This could all occur because by then they had a succession plan in place, they understood what fit factors were essential to success regardless of the level of position to which they were recruiting, and suddenly, candidates from competitors were knocking on their door looking for their next career move.
Retention rates went up and staff satisfaction levels, particularly with the leadership group, were amongst the highest globally.
“Together we were able to challenge thinking, resulting in new ways of operating. Of course, there was formal management and reporting in place, but the company recognised very early on, and more than a decade before COVID hit, that team members could be trusted to do their jobs professionally whether they worked from an office or from home. Indeed, as far as the SLT was concerned, team members who had customer facing roles could live anywhere they liked as long as they had access to an airport.”
“This was a company led by an MD who understood that life was a balance. He didn’t just talk about being family friendly as a business, he walked that talk with his team year in and year out. He understood that team members could be away on site for a week and that when they got home, it was important that they had real time out with their families. Families were included in company functions and everyone’s contribution was acknowledged along the way. When we took temperature checks with the team every year, the combination of family friendliness and concerned, involved leadership was always highlighted as one of the reasons people stayed.”
Over the length and breadth of the 16-year partnership, they experienced the usual peaks and troughs of economic environments.
“Understanding one another so well meant that we could be flexible with our arrangements in the challenging times and ramp up when we needed to in the profitable times. It’s one of the strengths of trusted partnerships,” David explained.
Once established in Australia, David’s work with the mining organisation stretched globally.
The Global CEO could see why Australia was so successful and he was keen to roll out some of the initiatives into the business units elsewhere. This led to weekly meetings with the Global Head and the establishment of coaching support for other country managers, facilitation of global executive team meetings, trouble shooting and problem solving, all with a people focus.
As David points out, one of the main reasons consultants consider leaving the industry is because most clients tend to use them “transactionally, rather than strategically,” meaning, they are entrusted to provide advice, but are left out of key implementation activities. This is where this particular partnership was completely different. David was truly part of the team, its everyday operations and most importantly, it’s thought leadership and decision-making processes.
The relationship of mutual trust experienced with this organisation was a game changer on so many levels and sums up how the Reddin Group does things differently.
“From humble beginnings as a recruiter, to strategic advising around the globe, when partnerships are done right, they can be truly powerful. It all comes down to relationships and results.”