Case Study: Team Coaching in FMCG


I was invited by a close associate to work with him at a large FMCG manufacturer where he worked to help improve team performance. This team works in central services in an extremely large multinational corporation.

I arrived at the location on a Sunday evening and in the car journey to the hotel, my client advised that he wanted to change the focus of the development. Instead of working with the full team, I was to work with a smaller sub-team. My client advised that this sub-team was having particular problems with delivering their expected objectives. My revised task was to support the sub-team to identify what help was needed to develop their skills and improve overall performance. The sub team’s role is to approve new suppliers.

I created a team development workshop overnight and we started the next day looking at the team’s behaviours and output. We quickly identified several problems

  • The process was inconsistent between team members
  • The process was also inconsistently completed between departments.
  • The team was governed through fear, carried over from a previous manager
  • There were no measures of team performance
  • The team was still working to a set of rules laid down by a former manager

The impact of these behaviours was that the staff were uncertain and working in constant fear. Failure to deliver was normal, all failures were blamed on people, and external demands were never challenged. This increased the workload in the department without adding value from the customer’s perspective. As a result, the team had become demotivated and disillusioned

I had two issues. The first was to understand and support the overall process. The second was to work with the individuals to help them improve their skills and resilience.

We employed three strategies to develop in parallel

  1. Focus on the process to identify and agree on the standard work.
  2. Work with the individuals to help them identify as a team and start collaborating
  3. Coach the individuals to enable them to understand their reactions and interact more positively

The strategies worked very well, by applying transformational coaching across the needs of the immediate client, recognising the demands of the wider organisation and the constraints individual team members perceived, we made huge step-change improvements in performance. The client (this team’s line manager) was coached to modify his behaviours to reflect the values agreed with the team. Individuals in the team were also coached to address their confidence and behavioural challenges. Working with the team, we were able to establish common values and establish the required process to enable the team to work effectively as a unit and in concert with other parts of the business. Since the process was developed by the team with support and guidance by me, they were fully engaged with the process.

After completing the intervention, the team identified that they needed to enforce the existing agreement and insist their customer, another internal department, upheld their part of the agreement. The team also stopped competing and arguing internally, focusing instead on solving problems at their root cause. The overall result was a reduction in workload and a higher quality of work product. The team also had higher engagement, morale, and created a positive and supportive working environment.

The work was so successful that further engagements were booked to deliver training and development with this team and with other teams in the business. A team build for another team in the department is planned for later in the year. I continue to coach the team director to support his development.

Tamarind Tree Consulting

Why is my business called Tamarind Tree Consulting?

I am sometimes asked where the name ‘Tamarind Tree Consulting’ comes from.

When I first decided to set up my own business, I was going through a redundancy process. I had considered working for myself before and had thought about what I could do, but I never had the courage to do it. So here we were, with the perfect opportunity for me to start my own business, my wife agreed and I had decided to be brave and set up on my own, but what should I call it?

My wife had arranged for us to go away for a weekend break in Spain and one evening after a few beers we were trying to find a name for my new business, we kept coming up with names, checking if the names were taken at companies house, and finding other businesses already had the name we had thought of. As I was looking for inspiration on the internet I came across an article about the Tamarind Tree, and it was perfect.

For those who don’t know there is is only one species of Tamarind tree. It is a single species and genus, otherwise called a monotypic taxon (thanks Wikipedia!) with no variants, and as I thought about that it occurred to me that despite the many different views of continuous improvement, the aim and objective of continuous improvement is always the same; to improve product or service quality, reduce the time taken to provide the product or service and to achieve this at the lowest cost possible. In short, just as there is only one Tamarind tree, continuous improvement always has the same objective.

I read more, the seeds of the Tamarind tree are used all around the world in cuisines from many different countries. Continuous improvement is applied in many different businesses and cultures, always tailored to the requirements of the business, but using the tools of continuous improvement to give just the right flavour to the business. As I explained this to my wife she was nodding, which is always a great sign!

I then thought about what you might use the wood of the Tamarind tree for, so I looked it up. Tamarind wood is a very hard and strong wood, often used for making furniture. Using Tamarind wood to make a strong framework, the alignment with continuous improvement becomes obvious. The tools and techniques of CI are used to create a strong framework within a business, making a strong platform for growth and development.

Add in the management tools and framework present in ISO9001 and the CQI competence framework and you have a structure that works. The only remaining question is this: can I use the name? We searched the companies house website and the name was clear. Fantastic, I had my business name and a sound logic behind choosing the name, there was only one thing left to do, have another beer to celebrate 🙂

Baldwin Francis

Case Study for ISO9001:2015 Transition

Baldwin and Francis manufacture flameproof and intrinsically safe electrical switchgear for hazardous environments. Their primary markets are oil and gas, marine, rail and industrial sectors

The existing system meets the needs of ISO9001:2008, however with ISO9001:2008 expiring in 2018 B&F must plan a transition to ISO9001:2015. As a result, Baldwin and Francis Ltd  asked Tamarind Tree Consulting to modify their quality management system in preparation for the ISO9001:2015 transition.

The transition task is more complex for Baldwin and Francis Ltd since they have to also consider the additional requirements of ISO/IEC80079-34:2011 It was essential that the consultant used could ensure that the requirements of both standards were integrated. A vital aspect of the business is disciplined application of both standards to ensure that the equipment provided ensures the safety of electrical distribution in explosive atmospheres.

With only six weeks to the next transition audit it was vital to ensure that any alterations were practical and closely managed. It was also essential to ensure that all progress was sustainable to ensure that it provided a platform for future system development.

Installation support

Tamarind tree conducted a gap analysis of the system to identify both the required changes and the necessary care points. This was designed to ensure that the changes would not compromise system integrity or product performance.

Working in collaboration with the team at Baldwin and Francis Ltd, the first step was to train auditors to assess the system against both ISO9001:2015 and ISO/IEC80079-34. Auditors were selected from a range of functions across the entire business. The document control system was modified to include risk assessment of processes and a systematic review of the business processes was initiated.

The system modifications identified by Tamarind Tree Consulting assisted in a positive external audit result. Ongoing certification was maintained and the external auditor confirmed that the system complied with the needs of both ISO9001:2015 and ISO/IEC80079-34:2011.

Feedback from Baldwin and Francis was very positive, with particular recognition of the timely, expert and engaging  service they were provided

Stephen Clarke, CEO and Managing Director of Baldwin and Francis stated,

“ This has been a very successful project. Tamarind Tree Consulting led my team throughout the task in a practical, knowledgeable way. Tim Akerman quickly engaged with all employees, fully understood our needs and delivered the actions required to meet the audit deadline as well as re-aligning our plans for the transition to the new standards. All on time and to the agreed costs. I am sure that we will be using their services again”