CASE STUDY: AEL MINING SERVICES
‘FROM THE WORST PERFORMING BUSINESS UNIT TO WHERE HQ SENDS STAFF TO BE TRAINED‘
Care & Growth worked hand in hand with AEL Mining Services from 1996 to 2007, bringing the 3000-strong organisation to a new high despite the bleak financial environment of that era.
Today, AEL is the biggest explosives company in South Africa, with revenues reaching R7.4 billion in 2013. In 1996, however, it was beset with numerous issues, amongst which were declining markets and profitability.
Graham Edwards, then CEO of AEL, decided to work with Schuitema Group to bring the organisation back on its feet. He calls that one decision he made,
“One of the most worthwhile things I’ve done in my career.“
PROBLEMS AEL FACED
Poor Safety Performance
In 1994, 10 AEL workers died in a nitro-glycerine explosion in one of the organisation’s plants, thus ending AEL’s most profitable product. The Total Recordable Injury Rate was at a high 1.9.
With the financial crisis and limited operations, AEL’s revenue in 1996 was at a low R820 million. Prospects were downcast, and many predicted declining profits for the organisation.
Soft Company Culture
The organisation faced a dilemma: its employees, while like a family, were too polite to one another. While this made for a nice environment to work in, the soft culture impeded growth and innovation.
Lack of Communications
AEL suffered a breakdown in communications. The diagnostic survey conducted revealed that employees got their information first from shop stewards instead of their immediate supervisors.
HOW SCHUITEMA HELPED
- Training was done from top-down and across the entire organisation
- Every manager was trained twice – one with peers, and one with team
- A 90-day Accountability format was put in place
- Refresher training, additional training, and training for new staff were consistently carried out for years
“20 years later, people still call to tell me how Care & Growth has changed their life completely!”
– Graham Edwards, Former CEO of AEL
- Leadership Diagnostic Surveys were conducted
- Schuitema Group consultants gave 1-1 coaching with top managers
- All executives attended the Schuitema Personal Excellence Course
SPECTACULAR RESULTS ACHIEVED
The Total Recordable Injury Rate plummeted to below 0.35, a feat Graham “is most proud of”.
For the entire 10-year period with Care & Growth, no fatal accidents occurred.
250% Profits Increase
AEL saw an overall increase in performance, with a much higher competitive advantage and shareholder return. Additionally, Trading Profits skyrocketed by 250% in 8 years to R240 million.
Healthy Company Culture
While still keeping the family-culture in the organisation, AEL leaders are now expected to be firm and fair to the employees. They were also equipped with tools to recognise and discipline, promoting total growth.
Surveys were conducted again on communications, and within 2 years of Care & Growth, posters, meetings, and immediate superiors became the first point of information sources. Manager-subordinate relationships improved across the board.
“The Care & Growth philosophy was the golden thread that stretched through all the initiatives we implemented in AEL. It was what enabled people to willingly apply the systems we had put in place.
The essential difference between where we started and where we ended was that our employees had developed the ability to suspend their own agendas and embrace what needed to be done. In the whole organisation, virtually at every level, there was willingness and benevolence – people were willing to do what was right for the whole. In the end, the leaders at AEL at every level understood that they were there to serve – they were not there to be served. This was a massive mindchange. Because of this, every individual who stayed in AEL, bar none, grew.
Being with Care & Growth is one of the worthwhile things I’ve done in my career. It has really changed me in the process, helped me understand what my role was, and how I should approach my role.
Each intervention is different, and you will see the techniques for yourself. But what Care & Growth has taught me is that the more unconditional that you can be in your giving, the more spectacular your results will be.
It has been my privilege to share with you about Care & Growth.”