GreenBlue Urban- Growing their People Power


Urban landscaping company GreenBlue Urban is a family business based in Bodiam, East Sussex, with around 30 employees. Managing Director Roy Bowie initially approached People Puzzles to resolve some people issues in the business. However, when HR Director Zoë Murphy joined GreenBlue Urban in July 2020, she proposed a more long-term strategic approach that would not only improve the current HR situation but actually help Roy achieve his aims to grow the business.

‘I used to have the view that HR was managing difficult cases and moving people on – with occasional support on recruitment,’ says Roy. ‘But I would like to pass on to other business owners and managing directors that what People Puzzles does is so much more than that. It’s about the development of the business and its people as a whole which has been the biggest eye opener for me.’

Zoë’s ‘root and branch’ approach ensured that GreenBlue Urban had the right people in the right place to help drive up performance and help the business meet its aims. Initiatives included:

  • Focusing on the key KPIs
    The business has benefited hugely from an initiative called ‘Find our five’ – where every department identified five key performance indicators (KPIs) that would be most important in delivering the business goals. ‘It’s helped people understand how their role is contributing to success,’ says Roy. ‘It’s also made the team leaders more accountable to each other rather than working in silos.’
  • A more accountable senior leadership team
    Initially, Zoë led leadership team workshops to review the business plan and bring the leaders together under that shared goal. ‘We’re now able to have robust conversations because we’ve built trusting relationships and they have stepped up to being leaders of the business rather than managers.’ says Roy. ‘Everyone feels challenged now, which has had a huge impact on performance.’
  • Greater efficiency
    with each department restructured to reduce waste on tasks that could be automated or done more efficiently, enabling redeployment of resources to areas that would deliver growth. ‘We have had a lot of change,’ says Roy. ‘Every department has been redesigned. People have rolled with the changes and they understand why it was done and recognise the benefits.’
  • Getting the best out of staff
    Zoë introduced a new approach to rewards, including a bonus scheme that encourages greater focus on the overall business targets, with 60% of it being based on the success of the business and 40% on individual performance. She also gave managers the tools to deal with underperformers and the difficult conversations that are often needed.


Collectively, these interventions have helped to turn around GreenBlue Urban’s fortunes. From a 75% dip in sales in the first half of 2020, the company has not only rallied but is 120% up on expectations for the first half of 2021 and is on course to smash its target for the rest of the year.

‘It’s the whole people thing that has driven this,’ says Roy. ‘You hear business leaders saying people are your biggest asset and I neglected this before. But it’s absolutely true.’

Roy continues: ‘Some business owners take out insurance to manage the risk of difficult HR situations. But that is really missing the point. HR is about retaining and developing talent. Given businesses at the moment are struggling to recruit it’s important to retain the staff you’ve got and consider what might happen if key people in the business left.’ To help mitigate this, Roy is now having ‘talent/succession’ conversations with the senior team to better understand who needs to be developed in future.

The flexibility of People Puzzles’ way of working is something that Roy feels other business owners should be aware of if they are considering picking up the phone. ‘I mistakenly thought that it would be a year-long investment– but it’s more of a pay-as-you-go model,’ he says. ‘This was huge for us at the time.’

The greater autonomy and trust in the team has also allowed Roy to step back from the operational side of the business to focus more on development opportunities. ‘Every team leader can now make decisions in line with the vision’ he says. ‘They treat it almost like their own business; they know it’s up to them whether they succeed or not.’

If you’re a mid-tier business with a team of 25 or more and would like help to get on the right path to business growth – call 0203 633 6830 or email [email protected] to book a complimentary 45 minute call with your local Director.

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