How to address skills gaps when your people are spread around the globe. Aggreko plc share their strategy

How to address skills gaps when your people are spread around the globe. Aggreko plc share their strategy

When your £400m company operates from over 100 locations serving 60 countries; when you have over 2,000 employees and offer 24/7 customer support; when you handle $1bn of heavy rental equipment; when you have just undergone major global restructuring – you have very particular training requirements.

This is the profile of Aggreko plc, headquartered in Scotland and listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company is the global leader in the rental of power, temperature control, and oil-free compressed air systems.This can include providing temporary power to oil platforms; powering grand prix or Rugby 7s events; lighting New Zealand’s Southern Alps during the filming of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; and facilitating reconstruction and humanitarian aid operations.

After a recent global restructuring, Aggreko had identified some opportunities for future growth. The time was right to implement a change programme that would lead them towards greater stability and more business with greater profit margins. Enhanced salesforce motivation and the resulting improvement in staff turnover rates were key requirements.

The opportunity would involve aligning some of the skills gaps and inconsistencies that inevitably arise when an organisation is spread around the globe. Aggreko was looking for consistency, both in training techniques for different skill areas and in the delivery of training around the world. As with any progressive company in an increasingly competitive market, Aggreko wanted to increase market share and operational efficiency. The objective was to create a world-class sales and marketing operation, within which all individuals could perform consistently well, and the company began to look for a partner to provide the input and ongoing support that they would need. Previous experiences withtraining companies had highlighted problem areas; different styles of approach had led to a disjointed strategy; individuals struggled to apply or retain what they had learned; and there was a lack of follow-up and insufficient measurement and accountability from the training provider.

Finding the right partner was so important to Aggreko that an initial eight training companies were approached to submit tender documents. The global sales and marketing director reviewed all of these, and met with each company, before drawing up a shortlist of four.A group of Aggreko executives then asked each company to prepare a presentation outlining how they would help Aggreko to achieve its strategic objectives. The executives devised a scorecard on which they graded each company as to their likely ability to deliver on must-haves and wish lists.

Finally, a decision was made: Aggreko chose Huthwaite International, with the emphasis on international.“Huthwaite really did offer the ability to deliver around the world,” explains Gilles Acogny, Aggreko’s global sales & marketing director. “Many companies claim to, but we have learned the hard way about language barriers, cultural differences and resourcing issues, even in Europe. Huthwaite convinced us by proving what they’ve done for other international organisations.

SPIN®, the sales methodology implemented across Europe and North America, develops skills which build real value into client relationships, using a consultative approach.

Acogny says that Huthwaite also impressed Aggreko with the provision of online tools for performance measurement and reinforcement, and with their willingness to be held accountable for the results of their work. “Huthwaite was one of the few companies that provided mechanisms for measuring progress. This was a great selling-point as far as we are concerned,” he says. “This means we can benchmark people before and immediately after completion, and then at regular intervals following coaching sessions with their sales managers. With Huthwaite, we can find out if any improvement in performance is due to the individual’s response to the programme or to external factors.” He goes on to say that, much like Huthwaite, Aggreko is a performance-based, company – which is why changing behaviour is so crucial to their training.

According to Karen Wales, former global training and programme manager, some of her most positive feedback about Huthwaite results from areas even Aggreko had not built into their selection process, and which came as both a pleasant surprise and much-appreciated added value.“The people I speak to at Huthwaite on a daily basis, in terms of producing reports that I need to see, and ensuring that everything is well-organised and planned correctly, are doing a superb job. When we selected Huthwaite I had no idea that this would be so important; but it has to be said, these staff are outstanding.

Partnering with Huthwaite proved an extremely positive experience for Aggreko – choosing carefully led them to choose well, which has in turn enabled both partners to derive maximum success from the relationship. Aggreko’s full commitment to behaviour change across the entire organisation enabled them to take a holistic approach within which the consultative approach of Huthwaite is of most benefit, and enabled Huthwaite to deliver beyond Aggreko’s expectations.