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You can coach rather than command in any business



In 2017, Linde Engineering brought together a team of 14 men to oversee construction of an ethylene plant for an oil company on the Gulf Coast of Texas. It was a typical assignment for the project management arm of Linde, the industrial gases group: leading a consortium and supervising 2,500 workers, subcontracted to execute the construction plan.

Safety, as ever, was paramount. But this project was a test-bed for a completely different way of working that would use coaching techniques to underpin safety standards. 

To say the Linde managers were sceptical is an understatement. Safety manager Bruce Parnell, an outspoken Texan, recalls how he reacted to news that the team would go through a programme, devised by Linde and coaching group Performance Consultants International (PCI) in 2014, and based on the core skill of “active listening”. 

“Everyone thought ‘This is never going to work. How are we going to get things done if we start asking people to do stuff rather than telling people to do stuff?’ . . . Historically speaking, the construction industry itself, in the Gulf Coast area, especially in the US, in order to get things done, you tell people what to do.”

Mr Parnell was particularly doubtful about the mindset of his senior colleagues, including Michael Kostyshyn, the site quality assurance manager, born in Ukraine, who describes himself as a “passionate speaker”. During the first PCI training sessions, Mr Kostyshyn “found it impossible to keep my mouth shut”. 

“I knew that approach wasn’t going to work too well,” Mr Parnell recalls. “I said ‘Michael K isn’t going to make it. His approach and his attitude isn’t going to work here on the Gulf Coast’, and I wouldn’t have bet 10 cents on him.”

Changing behaviour

Linde’s decision to use novel coaching methods to improve its safety record was not the result of any catastrophic failure. It did, however, come in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, that had a profound impact on the same Gulf Coast region and increased pressure from Linde’s clients to enforce ever stricter standards.

Using traditional techniques, Linde had reached a plateau on safety and continued to experience small problems — skin punctures, falls — that are a sign of overall safety deficiencies. Kai Gransee, now a senior health and safety executive for Linde Engineering, says he and his team said to themselves, “we have all these processes in place, why do we continue to see these incidents?”

In 2014, Mr Gransee persuaded Christian Bruch, chief executive of Linde Engineering, to try the coaching scheme as a way of changing overall behaviour.

Mr Bruch, in turn, believed the approach could yield a wider benefit. “For me, [the PCI training] was a pilot not only related to safety but more of a pilot around leadership . . . The question was: if we can’t manage safety, how the heck are we going to manage our company.”

Such thinking is not new. Paul O’Neill famously transformed the culture of Alcoa, the aluminium manufacturer, when he took over in 1987, by focusing on a target of zero injuries. Beyond the safety area, companies increasingly encourage a “coaching” style of management that delegates more decision-making to front-line workers.

In September 2017, Mr Gransee started to put the 14 managers at the Gulf Coast plant through a two-day course, run by PCI’s Jon Williams. At the time, safety at Linde, “was being managed and not led”, Mr Williams says. The programme was, essentially, a customised version of its general coaching method, built on insights developed by PCI’s co-founder, the late Sir John Whitmore

Using the technique, participants pose “powerful”, non-judgmental, open questions, listen to the answers, and nudge team members to take their own decisions about next steps. The 14 in turn acted as ambassadors, passing the skills down the chain to direct reports.

Real impact

The new approach led the team to question some of the fundamental ways they had worked. Abhinav Singhal, who had worked on the design of new plants, found it hard to shed his conviction that it was enough to incorporate safety measures in the blueprint. “I always was of the mindset that everything that we do is intrinsically safe, that nothing can go wrong [but after the training] I started realising that if you really talk to people, if you really understand what they’re doing, how they can improve upon themselves . . . that, yes, we have room for improvement.”

The real impact was felt as they applied Linde’s “Lead Safe” programme. Sigi Schönhuber, another straight-talking site manager, recalls challenging a contractor working in a trench on the Texas site to show his work permit. Instead of using the old “rod and staff” approach and issuing a directive, Mr Schönhuber persuaded the worker to commit personally to carry his documents in future. “Whenever I met that guy in the field, he asked me to check on his work permit, because he was so proud that he had all the documents in place,” he says. 

For many of the team members and contractors it was the first time that managers had actively discussed their work with them. “A lot of these workers were never engaged by management and never had an opportunity to prove to management that they knew what they were doing,” says Mr Parnell. “[One guy] said he’d been out there in that business for 24 years and nobody ever asked him his opinion.”

The number of monthly interactions between managers and workers using the new approach has nearly tripled from 11 per month to 30. In 2018, for the first time, Linde Engineering lost no time for injuries on any of its construction sites. The safety coaching is now being rolled out to other parts of the Linde group and Linde and PCI are offering it to third-party companies. 

Mr Bruch says the success of the programme will also inform how Linde measures the cultural integration of its merger with Praxair, completed last year. 

It is hard, though, to sustain such an initiative in an industry in constant change, where turnover of staff in the field runs at 5 to 10 per cent a month. In fact, in 2019, while the overall injury rate at Linde Engineering continued to fall, there were three lost-time injuries. “You have every day to go out and demonstrate that [safety] behaviour,” Mr Bruch says. 

Rebecca Jones of Henley Business School, who evaluated a separate PCI assignment for staff at Sellafield, the UK’s nuclear reprocessing plant, says managers should use coaching techniques to improve their “long-term effective performance”. She cautions, however, that sometimes when leaders are coaching their own staff — people whose performance they may also have to assess — they “have to work much harder” to maintain a non-judgmental attitude.

Linde’s involvement in the Texas assignment finished in May 2018 and the 14 have dispersed to other Linde sites from Germany to India, or even to other companies. But they have retained a tight group culture and commitment to encourage changes in behaviour. “We’re always on a mission,” says Mr Schönhuber, who now works to spread the approach at a facility in Kazakhstan, despite the language barrier. They style themselves “The Group of 14” and keep in their on-site offices torch-shaped trophies as a symbol of the need to be coaches rather than commanders. Some describe the approach now as a “way of life” that they apply not only at work but at home.

Even the hard-bitten Mr Parnell is ready to admit his doubts about Michael Kostyshyn were ill-founded. “That guy was an absolute miracle and proved me wrong in every sense,” he says. “And I was extremely proud of that.”

Coaching tips

The Performance Consultants International approach develops coaching skills based on active listening, powerful questions, and a G-R-O-W model:

GOAL: What do you want?

REALITY: Where are you now?

OPTIONS: What could you do?

WILL: What will you do?

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Meta Growth Shareholders Overwhelmingly Approve Transformational Business Combination with High Tide to Create Canada’s Largest Cannabis Retailer




TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2020 /CNW/ – Meta Growth Corp. (TSXV: META) (“META” or the “Company”) and High Tide Inc. (CSE: HITI) (OTCQB: HITIF) (Frankfurt: 2LY) (“High Tide”) are pleased to announce that, at the special meeting of shareholders of META held yesterday (the “Meeting”), the shareholders of META voted in favour of a special resolution to approve the previously announced proposed business combination pursuant to which High Tide will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of META (“META Shares”) by way of a plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (Alberta) (the “Arrangement”), as further described in the joint news release issued by META and High Tide on August 21, 2020. The Arrangement required approval by 66 ⅔% of the votes cast by META shareholders present in person or represented by proxy at the Meeting.

The Arrangement will create:

  • Canada’s Largest Cannabis Retailer with $1481 million in Annualized Revenue
  • Annual Cost and Operational Synergies of Approximately $8 million to $9 million
  • A strong Balance Sheet to Support Growth

A total of 102,113,758 META Shares, representing approximately 43.1% of the outstanding META Shares, were represented in person or by proxy at the Meeting. Of the votes cast with respect to the Arrangement, an aggregate of 102,063,111 META Shares were voted in favour of the Arrangement, representing approximately 99.95% of the votes cast on the resolution approving the Arrangement.

It is expected that META will apply for a final order from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in respect of the Arrangement on October 28, 2020. Completion of the Arrangement remains subject to receipt of required regulatory and court approvals and other customary closing conditions, which are set out in the arrangement agreement between META and High Tide dated August 20, 2020, a copy of which can be found on the SEDAR profiles of META and High Tide at Assuming that the conditions to closing of the Arrangement are satisfied or waived, it is anticipated that the Arrangement will be completed on or before the end of November. Further information about the Arrangement is set forth in the materials prepared by META in respect of the Meeting, which were mailed to META shareholders and filed under META’s profile on SEDAR at

About META

META is a leader in secure, safe and responsible access to legal recreational cannabis in Canada. Through its Canada-wide network of Meta Cannabis Co.™, Meta Cannabis Supply Co™ and NewLeaf Cannabis™ recreational cannabis retail stores, META enables the public to gain knowledgeable access to Canada’s network of authorized Licensed Producers of cannabis. META is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (“TSXV”) under the symbol (TSXV: META).

About High Tide

High Tide is a retail-focused cannabis company enhanced by the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis lifestyle accessories. Its premier Canadian retail brand Canna Cabana spans 34 locations in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, with additional locations under development across Canada. High Tide has been serving cannabis consumers for over a decade through its numerous lifestyle accessory enterprises including eCommerce platforms and, lifestyle and licensed entertainment brand manufacturer Famous Brandz, and its wholesale distribution divisions RGR Canada Inc. and Valiant Distribution.

High Tide’s strategy as a parent company is to extend and strengthen its integrated value chain, while providing a complete customer experience and maximizing shareholder value. Key industry investors in High Tide include Aphria Inc. (TSX:APHA) (NYSE:APHA) and Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE:ACB) (TSX:ACB).

Forward Looking Statements

Neither the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) nor its Market Regulator (as that term is defined in the policies of the CSE), accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. Neither the TSXV nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Certain information in this news release constitutes forward-looking statements under applicable securities laws. Any statements that are contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are often identified by terms such as “may”, “should”, “anticipate”, “expect”, “potential”, “believe”, “intend” or the negative of these terms and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to anticipated revenue, operational and annual cost synergies of approximately $8 million to $9 million, receipt of regulatory and court approvals, the completion of any capital project or expansions, the anticipated timing for closing of the Arrangement and the satisfaction of closing conditions of the Arrangement, including, without limitation, obtaining applicable regulatory approvals and a final order from the Court of Queens Bench of Alberta. In particular, there can be no assurance that the Transaction will be completed. Forward looking statements are based on certain assumptions regarding High Tide and META, including expected growth, results of operations, performance, industry trends and growth opportunities. While High Tide and META consider these assumptions to be reasonable, based on information currently available, they may prove to be incorrect. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements also necessarily involve known and unknown risks, including, without limitation, risks associated with general economic conditions; adverse industry events; marketing costs; loss of markets; future legislative and regulatory developments involving the retail cannabis markets; inability to access sufficient capital from internal and external sources, and/or inability to access sufficient capital on favourable terms; the retail cannabis industries generally; income tax and regulatory matters; the ability of High Tide and META to implement their business strategies; competition; crop failure/conditions; currency and interest rate fluctuations and other risks.

Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list is not exhaustive. Readers are further cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations upon which they are placed will occur. Such information, although considered reasonable by management at the time of preparation, may prove to be incorrect and actual results may differ materially from those anticipated.

Forward-looking statements contained in this news release are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement and reflect our expectations as of the date hereof, and thus are subject to change thereafter. High Tide and META disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.


1 Annualized based on META and HITI’s most recent publicly reported quarters

SOURCE Meta Growth Corp.

For further information: Meta Growth, Mark Goliger, Chief Executive Officer, Meta Growth, Tel: 647-689-6382, [email protected]; High Tide, Jess Moran, Tel: 519-494-5379, [email protected]

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Harley-Davidson is getting into the electric bicycle business – TechCrunch




Harley-Davidson has spun out a new business dedicated to electric bicycles and plans to bring its first line of products to market in spring 2021.

The new business called Serial 1 Cycle Company started as a project within the motorcycle manufacturer’s product development center. The name comes from “Serial Number One,” the nickname for Harley-Davidson’s oldest known motorcycle.

The pedal assist electric bicycle company is being launched amid a booming ebike industry fueled by growing demand in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global eBicycle market was estimated to be over $15 billion in 2019 and projected to grow at an annual rate of more than 6% from 2020 to 2025, according to Harley-Davidson.

The new Harley-Davidson brand Serial 1 didn’t provide performance details or other specs of its new line of electric bike products. However, the company did release several photos of its first model.


Image Credits: Harley-Davidson

The new business launch also comes at a critical time for the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer, which has seen its sales slow as its core customer base ages out of its motorcycles.

In July, Harley-Davidson cut 700 jobs from its global operations as part of an internally branded restructuring plan called “The Rewire.” The plan, which Harley-Davidson chairman, president and CEO Jochen Zeitz first spoke about in the company’s first-quarter earnings call back in April, followed the launch of the company’s first production electric motorcycle the Livewire.

“The formation of Serial 1 allows Harley-Davidson to play a key role in this mobility revolution while allowing Serial 1 to focus exclusively on the eBicycle customer and deliver an unmatched riding experience rooted in freedom and adventure,” Aaron Frank, the new company’s brand director said in a statement.

Harley-Davidson said Jason Huntsman is president of Serial 1 Cycle. The rest of the executive team includes Ben Lund, who is vice president of product development and Hannah Altenburg as lead brand marketing specialist.

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Greater Vernon businesses honoured for excellence – Vernon Morning Star




Businesses in the Vernon area received some well-earned accolades last week.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce announced its 2020 Business Excellence Award winners Friday night, with awards handed out in 12 categories during a virtual gala.

“It was an exciting evening as the winner in each category was announced, and this year was truly a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit, vision and thinking outside of the box as our businesses and non-profit agencies navigate the challenges created by the pandemic,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president.

The winners of the 2020 Business Excellence Awards are:

  • Business of the Year sponsored by Valley First: The Med

(Honourable mention: Intermezzo Restaurant & Wine Cellar, Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery)

  • People’s Choice Award sponsored by Total Restoration Services: Turning Points Collaborative Society

(Honourable mention: Sterling Centre Remedy’s RX Pharmacy, J.C. Tompson Construction, The Bridge Educational Society)

  • Small Business of the Year sponsored by Community Futures: Anna’s Vitamins Plus

(Honourable mention: Home for Dinner, Kalamalka General Store, Ritual Barbershop)

  • New Business of the Year sponsored by MNP LLP: Fill – Vernon’s Refill Store

(Honourable mention: Bottle None, Boarding House Cafe, Cheese on Wheels)

  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year sponsored by Nixon Wenger Lawyers: Alysia Lor-Knill, Teassential

(Honourable mention: Mitchel Derksen, Numu Consulting; Elmaz Wilder, Ritual Barbershop; Kayley Letendre, Sugarbees Ice Cream Company)

  • Businessperson of the Year sponsored by Kal Tire: Tony Dyck, Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery

(Honourable mention: Brad Pelletier, Predator Ridge Resort; Richard Finn, Wayside; Joe Pearson, Remax)

  • Employer of the Year sponsored by City of Vernon: Sproing Creative

(Honourable mention: Community Futures North Okanagan, Valley First, The Home Depot)

  • Customer Service Award sponsored by Okanagan Spring Brewery: Sterling Centre Remedy’s RX Pharmacy

(Honourable mention: Intermezzo Restaurant & Wine Cellar, Vernon Teach and Learn, Olive Us Oil & Vinegar Tasting Room, Okanagan Restoration)

  • Manufacturer of the Year sponsored by Tekmar Control Systems: UnderGround Kombucha

(Honourable mention: Kekuli Bay Cabinetry, Summit Tiny Homes, Planet Bee Honey Farm)

  • Non-Profit Excellence Award sponsored by Community Foundation North Okanagan: Social Planning Council North Okanagan

(Honourable mention: Venture Training, Greater Vernon Museum & Archives, North Okanagan Valley Gleaners)

  • Community Leader of the Year sponsored by De Vine Vintners: Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery

(Honourable mention: The Fig Bistro, Lake City Casino, Vernon Teach and Learn)

  • Innovator of the Year sponsored by TD Bank: The Med

(Honourable mention: Caufields Engraving, Turning Points Collaborative Society, Martens Holdings)

The winners will be invited to a private event to receive their awards in person.

With the People’s Choice Award, partial proceeds from online voting will establish a scholarship for a local business student while other proceeds will fund Chamber initiatives to support local business.

The gala featured video messages from Ken Holland, general manager of the Edmonton Oilers; and Jillian Harris, founder and creative director of Jillian Harris Design, former Bachelorette and co-host of Love It Or List It Vancouver. There was also a live performance by Andrew Allen.


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