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The 'Recipe' for Organisational Change

17 June 2019 By Interview with Dennis Banfield (FCLP'17) written by Will Brodie

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Experienced leaders are often surprised by what they learn from Leadership Victoria programs. TechRentals General Manager Dennis Banfield (FCLP'17) says an important insight from his 2017 Folio Leadership Program was deceptively simple.

“When someone comes into your office, stop writing your email and move your body to face them. Give them your full attention. Be fully present for them.”

Leaders must be “purposeful, conscious, and deliberate” in their interactions.

“They know. They are astute people, they’re smart. They pick up the nuances, they make assessments based on how you present yourself. It’s important you’re aware of that as a leader.”

As a manager with long experience in organisational change, such details have proved vital for Dennis in engaging staff and customers. For he believes no meaningful change can be enacted without “bringing people along with you”.

At TechRentals, he was mandated with bringing growth to an organisation with established processes and many longstanding staff members.

To do so, Dennis followed a “recipe” he has honed over many years, building on advice from many leaders, including Amanda Sinclair, whose advice made a big impression on him at LV.

First, he spent three months travelling Australia, asking questions of customers and staff, following the mantra: “Ask, listen, observe, take note.”

Such consultation built rapport and shined a light on opportunities and issues beyond his original remit. It allowed staff to offer ideas and suggestions that built his knowledge of them and the company.

Next, Dennis reported back to the board and CEO, in search of ‘executive sponsorship’. He says if he was not “hitched to the wagon” of the CEO, his ambitious platform would not have been fully supported.

With the leadership backing his plan with words and dollars, Dennis convened a senior leadership team to implement a growth program, seeking opinions and advice so decisions were “made together”.

Finally, the next opportunity is sought via “Build The Business” workshops involving all staff. There is a call for submissions prior to these meetings and the group decides on two projects to focus upon. The process is staff-owned, as is the company’s rewards and recognition program.

Dennis believes communication is key to his “recipe”. A weekly email and quarterly newsletter detail the progress of the growth plan.

“We get stuff done and share it. People see results and that gives it real credence.”

His favourite piece of advice is: “Hasten slowly”.

 But whatever the speed of organisational change, the key ingredient to Dennis Banfield’s recipe is people.

“Realise and understand that everyone is different. Don’t be so black and white. There are grey areas, I fought that knowledge for years.

“It never ceases to amaze me the amazing people who are in companies, there’s such extraordinary potential…

“If you engage them and involve them, if you are genuine, sincere, authentic, they’ll buy-in.”

For those aiming to make changes at an organisation, Dennis has simple leadership advice:

“Get it right. Take them with you.”