The Kenton Group

Pod TalentBuckinghamshire Business First

The Kenton Group provides a wide range of innovative networking and connectivity solutions for carriers, operators, service providers, enterprise, utilities and governments worldwide. Their portfolio extends from simple connectivity products through to complex optical and fibre technologies for the telecoms market, with clients including Virgin and TalkTalk.

Tools used: PPA, Engage

The challenge

Having been acquired by a management buyout just over 10 years ago, the past few years have seen The Kenton Group experience a period of rapid growth, both structurally and financially. Whilst the company has benefitted heavily from this, it became apparent that certain parts of the workforce were not operating at maximum efficiency. With a company objective to increase turnover from £7 million to £18 million in the next three years, the organisation realised the need to develop their people to empower them to achieve results in line with this goal.

Vicki Meacham, Group Operations Manager and Head of Finance at The Kenton Group explains,

“Due to the significant changes in the business, visibility and control of what was happening ‘on the floor’ disappeared. There had also been a substantial restructure of the management team with the purpose of increasing awareness and decision-making across all parts of the business which unfortunately wasn’t working. In terms of recruitment during this time, it was a mixture of new recruits and bringing in people we had worked with in the past, at all levels.”

People didn’t understand the changes taking place and there was a breakdown in effective communication which led to lack of drive, commitment and engagement. When things went wrong, people would look to others for blame and therefore a lack of ownership was present.

The solution

The Kenton Group tried piloting a basic engagement survey to gain an insight into their staff, however the survey did not provide the depth of insights needed to create effective actions plans. The survey had been implemented across the whole organisation with poor explanation given as to its purpose, leading to a reluctance to give open and honest feedback.

Shortly after this, the organisation was introduced to Martin Reed, CEO of Thomas International, at a networking event. After speaking with Martin and learning about the validity and reliability of Thomas tools, the management team decided to run a comprehensive ‘health check’ on the workforce by using the Thomas Engage survey, which provided them with a 3D map of employee engagement levels within the organisation. A Thomas consultant visited The Kenton Group and gave employees a full briefing on the Engage questionnaire, putting the workforce at ease about the reasons and benefits for completing it and the outcomes it would provide.

Vicki explains:

Once everyone had completed the Engage survey, the results were presented back to management, revealing strong development points for us as a team. It showed a lack of clarity and direction, and little reward or recognition, highlighting that our management style was of a laissez-faire approach, which does not suit the company culture. Once the report was shared across the business, it helped remove much of the scepticism and ensured all employees had a full understanding of the positive actions we were taking in order to improve on our current culture.

The next stage was for every member of staff to complete a Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), which would offer an accurate insight into an individual’s workplace behaviours, motivators, strengths and areas for development and communication preferences. Full feedback was given to all employees which helped provide an understanding of why people do the things they do, and the importance of being aware of different people’s approaches to the same challenge.”

The project also involved correlating the PPA results with the Engage report to give further detail on where both the strengths and challenges were. By enhancing everyone’s self-awareness and their awareness of others, it gave The Kenton Group a common language for communicating which helped to proactively develop and improve their organisational engagement.

Vicki adds, 

It was so brilliant to be able to understand why and where we were making mistakes. Everyone was being treated the same when what was highlighted is that everyone is different. It was a major lightbulb moment.

The results

Any employer looking to bring in any assessment should use the Engage survey as a starting point. 

“Following the implementation of Thomas tools we have already started to identify people who need support to get them to where they need to be and this is all down to Engage and PPA. We can’t control external factors but what we can do is focus on our people and how we react to their needs. When talking with different employees, the insights that Thomas assessments provide help us to better understand them on an individual level and enter the conversation more informed. We are also developing our leadership style into a more ‘participative management’ to improve communication, with clear vision and direction to build trust, respect and integrity amongst the workforce.

What we’ve learnt from Thomas International has made our management team braver in making decisions and taking actions that don’t necessarily match their profile, which three years ago would have been a lot more difficult. We’re starting to place control back with the management team in a positive way and by doing this we can get clarity from the workforce and vice versa in order to increase transparency throughout the company.” 

Through working with Thomas, The Kenton Group has been able to realign the teams so that they can work towards their strengths, with better identification of training needs in order to consistently get both individuals and the company reaching their goals.

Using the PPA for development purposes has also strengthened the organisation’s appraisal processes, which are now much more detailed, formal and regular, allowing staff to feel empowered in their jobs and become true ambassadors for The Kenton Group.

Vicki concludes,

By proactively developing our people and teams, they will be more engaged and motivated and we will naturally reach our goals. It isn’t always about looking at technical skills but a much broader spectrum of knowledge, including people behaviours and needs which Thomas are fundamental to.

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