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Posted: 02/06/16

"This really helped our managers to understand themselves and their colleagues better, offering ways to get the best out of their teams as well". 

Paul O' Brien, Founder, Kitchens International 

Like so many businesses across the UK, Paul O’Brien, founder of the award winning Kitchen’s International, could see the enthusiasm and potential of the managers within his team. With many staff choosing to stay with the company, the majority of those managers had worked their way up the business. Their knowledge of the business was invaluable. What they were missing was the management skills to deliver on all cylinders. 

Founded in 1995, Kitchen’s International is marking its 21st birthday in 2016 and has grown to become Scotland’s leading high quality fitted kitchen suppliers. Now with 96 staff members working out of six different offices all around Scotland, Paul knew that it was time for the business to help its managers become effective leaders. 

Of course, BlueSky were on-hand to offer our services! 

“As a business, we recruit from within a lot,” Paul explained. “So, while many of our managers have an exceptional knowledge of our brand, products and services and are equipped from an industry perspective, we are aware that many managers were lacking in management experience and were keen to develop their leadership skills so they could be expert in all areas of their roles. As we have grown, the need to address this became more apparent. 

“That’s when we approached BlueSky Experiences. Very quickly, we realised BlueSky could help our managers and I could see early on how Insight profiling could work for us and align itself to our business. 

“Initially, we ran a pilot group where the concept was Back to the Future and we reviewed our business model looking back to 10 years ago - what we used to look like compared to our business today. We looked at what we could do better both operationally and culturally. This really highlighted to every last team member how we are all accountable to each other and have an impact on the business. Something that came out strongly from this was that we needed to establish effective smaller teams.” 

After discussions with the Kitchen’s International Senior Management Team, BlueSky came up with a programme of leadership training for their managers. A series of eight training days over the course of 12 months, we knew that they needed to be spread out and away from work, so the teams travelled to our BlueSky HQ in Methven.

“It was really positive to lift the team out of the work environment and take them somewhere like Methven,” Paul added. It is a beautiful spot, away from any pressures and an opportunity for the team to open themselves up to something new.”

For the eight leadership sessions, 17 managers attended the training, each going through the Insights programme and receiving a personality profile. A simple colour coordinated approach, the profile allows people to understand how their personality can impact on their day-to-day work as well as impact their colleagues.

“This really helped our managers to understand themselves and their colleagues better, offering ways to get the best out of their teams as well,” Paul explained. “A personal highlight for me was when two of our managers discussed a client in their energy profile language, using the tool effectively, asking questions they weren’t asking before. The training from BlueSky was no longer theoretical, but now a preferred practical tool.”

Since the managers have completed the leadership programme with BlueSky, Paul has seen the training gradually have a positive impact on the management team and wider business. “As with most things, we had some quite early adopters and some who took a bit longer to understand the benefits of the training and advice being offered, but we have worked hard to reinforce the learning. It is definitely a continued learning process that we have to keep working on long after the training days took place.”

“There has been a definite attitude change for the better. BlueSky’s leadership programme has galvanised our management team and provided them with a forum where they can share their managerial challenges. Our managers are now much more self-contained and communicate much more effectively with their colleagues, finding solutions within their own smaller teams.”

“Our managers now have a common language they all understand. Going through the leadership programme together has given them a connection with each other that has empowered every manager and given them a much needed boost of confidence.

“Ultimately, these positive effects have boosted productivity and motivated our managers, which is fantastic to see. We also won a top industry award last month, winning the KBB Kitchen Retailer of the Year 2016 after demonstrating exceptional customer sales service which can be, in part, down to the inspirational work of BlueSky to develop our managers.”

Since completing the training with the managers, all 80 employees have gone through the Insights programme, so every member of the Kitchen’s International team has a personality profile they can use to help them in the work place.

Paul has some advice for any businesses considering working with us. “Only take on a leadership programme like this if you are prepared to really go for it! You have to be able to turn the mirror on yourself and look at each and every member of the management team for this to work. If you invest in this way, you will reap the benefits. We have felt the influence of the training in all areas our business. BlueSky’s approach was flexible and very much tailored to our company and what we wanted to get out of the training. We look forward to continuing to work with BlueSky in the future.”

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