Improving collaboration to support growth ambitions

Client Experiences

“There have been some profound realisations within the business. The biggest impact is us regaining control of ourselves and how we work, without constantly pinning things on external factors.”

Aston Manor are the second largest manufacturer of cider in the UK. They are a market-leading, award winning cider led beverage company. Based in 3 locations across the UK, there are roughly 350 employees.

Farleigh have been working with the Senior Leadership Team for the business comprising roughly 40 Leaders, across seven teams.

Aston Manor have great growth ambitions, and at the start of our relationship they recognised that in order to deliver this growth, they would need to improve the degree of collaboration between the different functions and teams within the organisation.

We created spaces where people felt safe enough to be really open with each other, where they could have the conversations that perhaps they didn’t make time for or felt uncomfortable having before. Where they could really get to know each other more deeply beyond who they were at work and see the whole of each other as individual people. That helped to build the trust that was needed for them to have open and honest conversations about how they could improve and develop as a team, and to talk openly about what was and wasn’t working. In doing that, there was lots of laughter, lots of sharing things they’d never shared, and at times, tears. That really helped the quality of the conversations, and the safety of the space enabled the transformation and change to take place.

“It has opened my eyes into people’s personalities. We talk better, we understand each other better. It has brought us closer together.”

Like many organisations, people had slipped into some unhelpful habits such as siloed working and thinking, with signs of blame creeping in between teams rather than a sense of mutual accountability that the organisation was looking for, which they believed would really underpin its future success.

“It feels like we are working in quite a blame culture as a company. The culture is very passive so quite a low level of challenge and low levels of accountability.”

At Farleigh we always start with conversations, and after having gained some insight into the issues and challenges facing them, we worked with them to create an approach that we believed would not only develop collaboration between the teams, but also enhance individual team performance across the organisation.

We took an integral approach to designing the programme which recognises that qualities like team performance and collaboration emerge from the interaction of a complex set of factors; such as people’s beliefs, their mindsets, the systems and processes that teams follow and use. This is often apparent in how they run meetings, how they communicate with each other, the cultural aspects of the organisation or the team, and the shared beliefs, attitudes and assumptions that they hold. 

We worked with each team to clarify collectively what work they need to do as a team. What were their priorities, and given those priorities, how do they need to behave to actually implement them? What kind of mindsets and beliefs could they hold individually in order to demonstrate those behaviours? How do they need to come together as a whole, in terms of their shared beliefs and shared direction? What quality of relationships do they need in order to achieve what they need to achieve?

We absolutely believe that people own what they create. So, to generate accountability and ownership of the change required within each team, we conducted research with each team resulting in a report detailing the team’s own evaluation of themselves. The research findings were shared with each team on their first module which was a catalyst for speaking honestly to themselves about themselves.

“This course has helped us work more effectively together. It has given us the confidence to speak our true feelings with each other.”

This approach recognises that for any sustainable shift in team performance, change and growth for both the individuals, the team as a collective, as well as the relationships across and between teams is required.

The first module was designed to help each team build a clear picture of where they are now, what’s working well, and what they wanted to develop in order to be more effective in how they work together. To help each team to enter into honest and open conversations we created the conditions by inviting them to share more of their whole selves, not just themselves at work.

“Our first conversation on Day 1 was the first time I had sat in a room with all of the people who are notionally in my team. I got to know them as people and to understand their motivations and I have a lot of time for them and what they do.”

The team’s response and feedback from module one informed where we went in module 2 and enabled a space for co-creation. We then took the same teams and helped them explore and review how they interact across the business with other teams; where were the opportunities to create stronger mutual accountability?

Each team was invited to identify small, safe-to-fail experiments that they would do between modules. That way, with a very experimental mindset, they were putting into practice some of the new ideas that they’d been sharing as a team, new behaviours, actions, conversations, or processes to see what difference they made.

The third module then brought all the teams together to share their stories of personal growth, celebrate progress and distil lessons learned about teaming and collaboration.

Each team’s journey through the program was unique in the sense that they focused on the areas that were of most important to them, which helped to create some ownership of doing things differently and continuing to improve.

“Personally, that was the highlight so far…and on teams. You both should be really proud of how far we have travelled under your guidance. That call would have been inconceivable a year ago. What great energy and care from everyone.”

Glen, Aston Manor

The phrase ‘Farleigh’ is now being used to describe a different way of being, of working together, of being open, of collaborating, it’s become a short-hand for a rounded approach to performance. There are numerous examples of small and large practices, mindsets and behaviours that have shifted.

“Every Wednesday we have a Farleigh check in day at work. We do this every week. We talk about work and what is going on in our own personal lives. We have the trust and respect each other more. It has made us better managers.”

The team now recognise it’s down to them to continue building the relationships, develop the trust, and to keep going out of their comfort zones to have the conversations that matter.