Client Stories

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Operations Manager Development Programme

The situation:

Barbara Gaston, Spotless Training Manager – New Zealand, contacted AUT for a sales presentation and negotiation training programme for Spotless’ operations managers based in Auckland and Wellington.  Barbara was seeking content that could assist in building practical workplace skills. After further consultation with Barbara and two of the national managers  the sales challenges were identified as more a case of ‘customer management’ – account management and negotiation.

Our solution:

Russell Harray, Executive Education Manager at AUT Business School and Cherri Holland designed a two-day programme - Influencing and Negotiating - to meet this need.  The programme involved developing influencing and negotiating skills using a combination of learning methodologies including new frameworks and models to challenge participants’ existing thinking, role plays to practice skills, practical application of techniques for existing Spotless contracts, and presentation of content and ideas to colleagues and managers for feedback and comment.  The programme was strengthened by the positive support from the outset by participants’ managers and senior management, from their initial input into identifying outcomes for the programme, through to their presence at the workshop on day two.

AUT business trainer, Cherri Holland, was picked to facilitate this programme because of her substantial experience in working with contracts in the facilities management industry.  Workshops were run in Auckland and Wellington with 12 participants attending each.

The outcomes:

Both participants and their managers found the programme of great value.  Some immediately applied the new thinking and communications skills to existing customer challenges, getting the outcomes they wanted.  Following the programme, there were many positive comments about being able to practice the skills learnt, and most were appreciative that Spotless had invested the time in their development.

“Some staff were able to put their new skills immediately into action and a valuable account was gained as a direct result,” explained Barbara Gaston.

These workshops were so successful that they were offered to operations managers from other areas of the business.

During the programme it became evident that the operations managers also needed to strengthen their skills in leading and managing their teams.  This two day workshop was developed and was offered to all those who had completed Part 1 of the programme. The feedback from this second programme was also very positive.

Some participant comments:

'Delivered well tested and practical models to use in my role in regard to both clients & colleagues'
'It was great to be faced with the same old problems but having a different set of tools to deal with them'
'It helped me to develop my negotiation and presentation skills'
'That the information received could be put to practical use within our business immediately'
'Changing the way I would think about an upcoming task'
'All the subject matter was relevant'
'Thoroughly enjoyable and will be of benefit to me in my relationships with clients and colleagues. More of this type of practical and relevant skills training please!!!'
'Probably got more out of this than any other short course I can remember'
'I really enjoyed the course and gained a lot from it. Thanks to all who made it happen'

AUT have worked well within the Spotless framework and the training was appreciated by participants,” concluded Gaston.

Rodney District Council Management and Leadership Skills Programme

The situation:

Dave Langdon, Manager Human Resources Operations at Rodney District Council contacted AUT Business School to develop a programme to enhance the performance of middle managers in line with the council’s organisational values.  Rodney District Council had identified that some of their operations staff coming into management roles needed to develop their management and leadership skills.

Our solution:

Russell Harray, Executive Education Manager at AUT Business School and AUT Management lecturer David Harris co-designed the programme in partnership with Dave Langdon.  The sessions needed to fit it in with the busy daily work schedules of the participants, so eight half day workshops were held at the council’s premises.   Topics covered:

Management Skills – What is a manager and performance expectations
Understanding People – The impact of personal characteristics
Motivation and Delegation – Understanding and applying motivation and delegation theory
Communication Styles – The communication process to be used in different environments
Negotiation – Understanding and using negotiation techniques
Conflict – Understanding conflict and use of conflict handling styles
High Performance  Teams – key functions of a team, managing conflict, leading teams for increased productivity
Coaching and Mentoring – establishing structures to successfully help staff confidently develop within a supportive atmosphere

Facilitators were picked for their management experience and delivery was a mixture of current research material and practical application.  Participants were encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and developed personal action plans to be discussed with their line managers. Presentations back to key managers put the emphasis on all participants to use the skills immediately.

The outcomes:

Following the programme Dave Langdon told us “The outcomes were great. Experienced Managers advised that they had learnt new styles of management and recently appointed managers were given tips as to how to handle daily events. All attendees have now put action plans in place following completion of the course as part of their individual development plans".

The first programme received positive feedback and was run a second time with another group of managers.

Feedback from both groups was very positive with the Rodney District Council HR and Development team commenting that this type of programme would be included in future initiatives.

To find out more, please phone +64 9 921 9999 x 6956, or email