Ever wanted to know more about the passionate, hard-working team of Training Leadership Consulting (TLC) team who help to arm clients with all of the tools and guidance needed for business improvement? In this interview series, our team will be sharing their experiences, motivation and insight on what they do.

Chris Barraclough is part of TLC’s senior leadership team based in KwaZulu-Natal and has worked across a diversity of industries over the course of his time at TLC. He works alongside clients as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Consultant, Trainer, Engagement Leader and Facilitator. Thanks to his invaluable experience and expertise gained over the years, Chris is able to provide clients with a truly well-rounded approach to consulting, training, strategies, change management and process management at all levels. Today, in our second TLC team interview, Chris will be sharing his experience, insight and wisdom.

Growth, Process Foundations, Change Management & the Importance of Starting Small

Q: Tell us a bit about your role at TLC

Chris BarracloughI have been fortunate to be at TLC for nine years now. I joined when Debbie and Rick [Debbie McCarthy, Director & Rick McCarthy, Managing Director] first started the business. They brought me on-board in what would be the first step to growing the business.  I started as a business analyst, which gave me the opportunity to work in many areas of the business, from developing curriculum, training, project management, marketing and other areas. I was given the opportunity to work as a consultant then senior consultant, manager and then a director. The journey also gave me the advantage of being able to grow and develop, while learning all aspects of the business. This is why I always encourage the newer members of the team to follow that approach, even though not everyone will follow the same path. Being well-rounded definitely helps when it comes to clients, too. One of our favourite sayings here is that your worst experiences as a consultant are the best stories as a trainer, and that is certainly true.

Q: How do you think South Africa compares on an international level when it comes to the adoption of process improvement strategies?

There are huge opportunities for process management here in South Africa. Advanced methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean and Management Development are meaningless without a base in process. You need solid, stable processes in order to create a stable foundation. In SA, there is still a large void in educational levels. Trying to apply advanced methods often leads to failure, when improvements are not primarily process focussed. Getting workers on the shop floor to understand processes that can be followed easily is essential. Training will differ greatly from those at shop floor level, to supervisors and managers.. There is a higher adoption internationally, but when standardisation and performance can be driven effectively, the opportunities for improvement are just as attainable in SA.

Q: What do you think makes the TLC SOM (Standard Operating Model) such an effective tool?

As a home-grown TLC product, the SOM is constantly being refined. Grant has spoken about the SOM and how it works in his interview [click here to read], but I would say that its main benefit is that it covers all aspects of the business, from job description to processes to performance metrics and just about everything else that is tied in. Most important, is how it is rolled out. We can create a fantastic SOM, but if it is not rolled out properly, it will fail. Change management is something that plays a big role in getting the new way implemented efficiently.

We always recommend that clients commit to a minimum of 12 months to see just how powerfully the SOM can work when put into motion correctly. Initially, we will drive it with weekly meetings, but ultimately, we aim to start handing it over to the client as we stay in the background, but the focus is always kept on helping people navigate the change cycles and solving problems as they arise. We also always aim to provide interactive training at different levels, with one-on-one hands on time to help compound understanding while we provide support. Clients start to take responsibility for their processes, and change starts to happen. Without proper change management and support, process management fails. As Grant said, our role at TLC is to work ourselves out of a job. By empowering our clients to take over what we have initiated, they will see lasting results as they take ownership.

Q:While almost every business will find value in improving their processes, which industries benefit the most from process improvement and training?

Over the past nine years, I have worked in multiple industries, from construction to banking, logistics, insurance, retail, telecoms, agriculture and  call centres. Every business will have their own needs and challenges and every business will benefit from process re-engineering to improve or remove inefficiencies. How you go about solving the problem and determining what the best solution for each specific client is what makes our job challenging. Spending too much time in one environment can be limiting as one may miss out on learning opportunities. Essentially though, in any industry, we find out what is required, and we then follow the best approach to get the right results.

Q: In a nutshell, what advice would you give to companies who want to start making real, lasting changes to their processes?

The most important part is to start small. I have seen many companies who are driven by financial targets battle to achieve them. Invariably, what happens is that they want to do everything at once or they want to focus on fewer, larger projects, which reduces the chance of success. With more people involved in smaller, focused projects the change of success increases. It is the sum of all the parts that not only yields greater financial savings but also builds positive momentum in establishing a meaningful culture for change.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired?

Motivation is multi-faceted. On a personal level, I want to succeed to sustain the TLC family and culture that we have worked so hard to grow and nurture. Externally and professionally, I am motivated and inspired to help our clients achieve their goals. When I see that the work I am doing is helping make a difference, that in itself is motivating.

If you have any questions that you would like to ask Chris, we’d love to hear them. Leave your comments below and let us know how we can help you meet your process goals. Keen to learn more about the rest of the TLC Team? Visit our website to Meet the Team today.