Case study: Action for Recovery

In 2009 T1UK was in the eye of a storm afflicting the global economy. T1UK has been a citizen of the UK oil industry for many years and a part of the community in its many locations around the UK.

The perfect storm amounted to losses in its operating units, an experience being repeated across the sector. The new MD, a T1UK veteran, surveyed the scene knowing that Group, based in Europe could not bail out the UK subsidiary due to competing demands for investment. This was a shock for many in the UK. T1UK had represented a secure career choice with many attractions to its employees.

The choice open to the MD was between making the necessary efficiency gains and finding new revenues either through traditional top down methods or more inclusive approaches. The risks and rewards of both approaches were debated, Engage for Change advocated that an inclusive approach would avoid people becoming victims and spectators. The management committee comprised a mix of long serving UK nationals and a good sprinkling of expatriate Europeans.

T1UK is a highly successful global organisation and broadly speaking is run on traditional command and control lines from its centre with varying degrees of local discretion depending on the strength and appetite of local management.

The objective was quite simply to return to the black as soon as possible. Action for recovery was born.

The programme was designed to deliver non budgeted efficiencies and new revenues within a year. Some doubted the wisdom of asking staff what they would have previously expected management to do behind closed doors.

The principles of Action For Recovery were simple

  • Behind action for recovery lay principles which were energetically negotiated:
  • The need to act is not negotiable but how we act is wide open to all our people
  • The business rationale has to be painstakingly explained
  • Our people know as well as or better than management where to seek 
efficiencies and new revenues
  • We need to make it safe to challenge and contribute to the process 
particularly in the boss to employee relationship
  • We must make performance data available so that everyone is working on a 
level playing field
  • Transparency of efforts – all businesses will post progress on the Action for 
recovery wiki introducing an element of competition and a reference point for use in weekly high speed reviews’