Putting in the building blocks for growth at Wirtgen

Two years ago, People Puzzles was approached by Wirtgen, a fast-growing international company that produces road construction and mining machinery, who wanted to take their business to the next stage of growth.

Why did Wirtgen bring in a People Director?

Two years ago, Wirtgen was experiencing rapid expansion, having trebled its headcount to more than a hundred staff. ‘With growth comes challenges,’ says Managing Director Paul Holmes. ‘We looked at the organisation and saw that we needed to professionalise our approach to HR’.

Keen to develop the talent within the company to support future expansion, Paul brought in Portfolio People Director Jim Verity, who works with Wirtgen’s senior management team, one-to-two days a week.

Since Jim began working with Wirtgen in 2018, the business has:

  • Developed a people plan to support the business strategy and put them in a strong position for growth
  • Increased the capability of its management team as well as new talent via an apprenticeship scheme
  • Developed robust people processes with much stronger management of performance, more structured recruitment processes and clarity of individual accountabilities
  • Navigated the Covid-19 lockdown period as well as restructuring to retain the company’s best talent and operate more efficiently, resulting in significant cost savings

A people plan for the future

Jim worked with Paul and the other Directors on creating a people strategy that would not only enhance the business’s service offering but also improve performance. A detailed plan for delivering that vision was also developed. ‘People can see that we’ve put in place the building blocks,’ says Paul. ‘We’re working on those softer skills that will hopefully continue to develop people in their roles now and in future.’

Increasing capability

Jim ran a development programme for Wirtgen’s middle management team and is now designing and running a programme for a newly created management team in its service function. ‘The success of this team is key to our strategy,’ says Paul. ‘Jim provides a positive sounding board to the Directors of the organisation as well as supporting managers throughout the company in all aspects of interactions with and between individuals and teams.’

As well as developing the managers’ capabilities, Jim set up an apprenticeship scheme to help the business develop its own skilled engineers. As a result, three apprentices were recruited in 2019.

Robust people processes

Without robust HR processes in place, accountability and performance can become more difficult to manage as a business grows. Jim implemented a performance review process, clarity of individual accountabilities and a more structured and professional approach to recruitment. ‘Having a strong HR support to help you grow and get the best out of your people is an absolute must,’ comments Paul.

Restructuring for greater efficiency

Jim helped the business carry out a complex restructure of the business’s workshop, which resulted in significant cost savings due to the removal of shift working and a more efficient day shift operation.

Adding power to the senior team

Having a director who is not in the business full time brings a useful perspective, according to Paul. ‘Jim is comfortable on giving us feedback; he is good at looking at our business from the outside,’ he says. ‘Jim hears stuff that we don’t hear, which adds a lot of power.’

That said, Jim is very much part of the organisation. ‘He really feels like he belongs here,’ says Paul. ‘He understands us and has knowledge of our industry; there’s a good fit between him and us.’

If you think your business could benefit from a People Director like Jim – or you feel you need support to grow your business in the right direction, find out what one of our experienced People Directors can do for your business by calling 0808 164 5826.

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