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PaperlinX - Driving performance in the manufacturing industry

The challenging world of paper

Declining market, thin margins, strong competition – all features of many industries in the UK today, not least the paper industry. For one of the UK’s largest paper merchant, add to the mix a major restructure, streamlining many of their subdivisions to become more competitive. As a result relationships amongst individual employees were strained and morale was low. If the company were to move forward attitudes would need to change fast. Teams, who had once competed against each other, would now need to work in partnership to drive the business forward.

Roaring lions and the right attitude

The Red Thread Partnership, worked with the senior managers of the business prior to the change being announced and a plan was hatched. It’s the planning that sets up the intervention and ensures complete alignment with the business objectives.

So, just 72 hours after all the employees were given their new positions the business held a two-day British and Irish Lions themed team building conference at The Leicester Tigers stadium, facilitated by The Red thread Partnership. Here they would have to learn to pass the ball to players they had previously seen as the competition.


The conference was kicked off with a meeting of the new management team to discuss what they should expect in terms of how their new teams and they themselves were likely to feel over the coming months. The changes that had been made would be difficult for many to accept but if they worked together, accepted the new direction and demonstrated the agreed behaviours they would have the right toolsets to help their employees to engage. The session finished with the managers drawing up a commitment plan of the behaviours they would adopt going forward as a foundation for the new structure.

The rest of the employees arrived to begin their journey in the ‘chaos room’. No-one was officially greeted; everyone was left to fend for themselves before being set a seemingly impossible quiz. The activity was designed to create chaos and confusion – reflecting how each individual felt in their current situation – a situation that was now coming to an end.

On entering the main conference room, delegates were asked to bin their badges and current business cards to symbolise making a fresh start. Each employee was given a newly branded kit and lanyard. The energy was lifted with a video talk from Ian McGeechan, the former British and Irish Lions coach and the new management team set the tone launching straight into a Q&A session. It was an opportunity for employees to ask those difficult questions that were creating lingering uncertainty, such as whether further redundancies could be expected.

Will Greenwood, ex England rugby and Lions player then hosted a series of energetic, engaging, thought-provoking and reflective activities looking at where the company was going now. Board members shared their vision for the company, outlining the new strategy; customers gave their views on working with the business and the employees were then tasked with understanding how their role would help achieve the goals.

The climax of the conference was the chance to hear inspirational tales of the power of optimism in achieving your goals, followed by the group signing a new pledge wall, committing to their part in the future of the business.

The workshop culminated in participants working in triads to bring all the learning together to create comprehensive influencing strategies to resolve current challenges and drive greater value in the business – strategies that they shared with their line managers and incorporated into team action plans.

A foundation for greatness

Every employee left the conference with a renewed vigour and desire to achieve and sense of who their new team-mates were. They knew what behaviours were expected of them and understood their roles, both collectively and individually, in driving the business forward.

This was just the beginning. The Red Thread Partnership’s support hasn’t stopped here. Going forward there will be continued events and interventions to ensure the change started at the conference is bedded in, develops and responds to enable the workforce to continue to drive the success of the business.

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