Founded on strong family values since the 1970s, Kennards developed the first Self Storage Centre in the country, opening in 1973. It remains today 100% Australian, privately owned and family run although has grown from a seven person family business to 230 people, with 83 locations and 524,000 square metres of storage space across Australia & New Zealand.
Sam Kennard has been Managing Director for 20 years, taking over from his Father, Neville Kennard. Neville was always very thoughtful around people and leadership and firmly believed that in order to have a successful business you need to have the best people. However, believing the culture was okay, Sam was not convinced to invest in culture measurement until the late 90s. He started to see some unrest amongst people and decided to get more insight into how they were feeling. In the 1990s the idea of measuring culture was new, but it was attractive to Sam Kennard who thought if he could measure it, he could manage it.
“We are very innovative and open to change. We change things often around here. One of the intangible benefits of having a strong culture is that it allows us to make changes easily as people trust us.”
The first culture measure using the Organisational Culture Inventory® (OCI®) was completed in 1998 in partnership with Stephen and Mara Klemich of Achievement Concepts - Life-Time Accredited Practitioners with Human Synergistics. In doing so, focus was also brought to the leadership team and clear values were articulated.
The results came as a shock to Sam, who said:
“I took them quite personally. I looked at them and thought, that’s not me and that’s not
the business I want to lead.”
This motivated him for the journey that followed.
CULTURE & LEADERSHIP DRIVE BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
KSS and Achievement Concepts designed a Personal Effectiveness Program (PEP), aimed at increasing personal self-awareness for the KSS team, using the Life Styles Inventory® (LSI). This was seen as the foundation required for helping individuals understand their role and responsibility and bring the values of the company to life.
The program has evolved over the years and continues today across the business.
KSS’s experience supports Human Synergistics research confirming that a high level of leadership commitment is necessary for building a Constructive and resilient culture.
Believing that a strong focus on building self-awareness is fundamental to leading effectively, KSS’s leadership team started work with Mara Klemich of Achievement Concepts to build their capability. They used the LSI 1 & 2 to understand their personal styles and how they impact overall culture. Figure 1 shows the collective improvements the leadership team has made in both their thinking styles (LSI 1) and their behaviours as reported by others (LSI 2). This focus in the leadership team has been a key factor in
driving cultural change throughout the business.
Mara also carried out psychological assessment for the recruitment of senior roles. This has been a successful initiative that, coupled with the development activities, has helped to create and cement a highly effective group of leaders.
The leadership team has challenged their internal systems and processes to build
alignment with the desired culture.
Examples of changes that have been made include:
- All written material (job descriptions, advertisements, internal communications, KPIs and competencies) is shaped by language that is aligned with the desired culture.
- The rewards system now focuses on team achievement rather than competitiveness. For example Storage Centres now work to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold status rather than first or second place - in theory every centre could be awarded Gold status.
- KPIs have been reworked to increase role clarity
Mara Klemich says
“KSS’s strength is in their ability to translate a reading on a tool into the reality of their environment and to bring it alive through their internal systems.”
The integration of leadership and culture across the business happens in subtle, everyday ways. It’s not primarily about running the programs, but rather about encouraging people to have greater self-awareness, to be genuine and to work in ways that are aligned with the desired culture.
For example, they have worked hard to eliminate the political nature of business and build openness and transparency internally around all decisions, ensuring people understand the context and purpose for things.
There are also high levels of accountability. All people are encouraged to thoughtfully and respectfully have the hard conversations and to pull each other into line if they see language or behaviour that is out of sync with the desired culture.
Figure 2 shows how a more constructive culture translates into improved outcomes. The integrated and holistic approach to leadership and cultural development has been a key factor in enabling the business to continue to grow and remain stable through various challenges.
Diagnostic Tools Life Styles Inventory™ (LSI) and Organisational Culture Inventory® (OCI)
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