Supporting sustainable growth through leadership development at Mawdsleys

Discover how People Puzzles were able to help this established and successful family business develop its HR and leadership capacity in the senior team through a business partner approach, providing coaching and mentoring, and building a people strategy to support and sustain the business’s ambitious growth plans.

‘Our HR lead has become a credible and driving force for change in the business’ – CEO, Mawdsleys

Mawdsleys is a successful and growing pharmaceutical distribution company. Headquartered in Salford, the business has six other locations in the UK as well as overseas operations in Belgium, Brazil and Israel. With ambitious plans for further expansion, the senior team recognised the need to increase internal leadership and HR capability to support their growth trajectory.

A business partner approach to HR

With more than 800 employees, Mawdsleys’ senior leaders were looking to establish a business partner approach to HR – that is, having someone in the team responsible for driving a high-level people strategy that would support the business’s plans for growth, with other people in the HR team doing the transactional and day to day work. They wanted to develop this capacity in-house in the longer term, supporting the existing team. They approached People Puzzles for assistance in creating this solution with all stakeholders, recognising the need for expert guidance in the early stages.

Developing leadership skills through coaching 

In October 2022, People Puzzles’ Conal Scholes began working with Mawdsleys’ Head of HR, Darren Johnson, in a one-to-one coaching and mentoring capacity. The aim was to develop Darren’s skills and expertise and ultimately help him establish a position of ‘trusted partner’ status in the senior leadership team as they faced the multiple challenges that modern business inevitably involves.

Establishing best people practices for tangible business impact

As part of the coaching programme, Conal helped Darren to kick-start some key initiatives such as:-

  • Focusing the HRBP and HR Advisor getting key policies agreed and trained in so the team could focus on change and transformation;
  • Establishing benchmarks around employee rewards and engagement including cost saving options that will benefit both employer and employee and employee engagement activities;
  • Creating the right organisational design and structure to get the business fit for the future, including clarifying roles and responsibilities to get the right people in right seats
  • Defining a robust HR plan to deliver change in operational excellence and leadership behaviours, through simplifying and focusing HR activity and impact

Measurable progress in 12 months: a credible and driving force

The leadership team is pleased with progress so far, now citing its HR lead as ‘a credible and driving force’.

Darren himself highly recommends coaching to other businesses looking to develop their HR capability: ‘I chose People Puzzles because they were able to offer a mentoring rather than consulting approach,’ he says. ‘Conal’s enthusiasm shows that he really cares about developing me professionally.’

‘Coaching is a very effective development tool,’ comments Conal. ‘The relationship needs trust – to be able to share weakness and opportunities and be met with support and options for change, as well as healthy challenge – for it to work. Over the course of my corporate career I have had a number of coaches who helped me become more successful than if I’d just done my own thing, and it’s great to be able to pass that on.’

If you’d like an experienced and expert People Director to help develop your in-house HR capability, define your growth strategy and support your people, call 0345 646 5201 to find out more and arrange a free 30 minute consultation.

People Director, Conal Scholls
People Director, Conal Scholes

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