Leading with Integrity
Cultivating excellence is a personal journey for RLG International
“If you can tap into that human dynamo that is the organism of people thinking together, there are fantastic things you can do.” The ability to draw from that rich vein of promise is an ideal that many great organizations aspire to, but sometimes reaching that goal requires inspired guidance. As CEO of the award-winning performance management firm RLG International (and author of our opening quote), Brad Farrow knows quite a bit about that.
Since opening its doors in 1983, the British Columbia-based employee-owned firm has executed over 2,900 projects across the globe, enabling some of the world’s most complex industrial companies to attain meaningful, long-lasting performance results. By focusing on making the most of human potential, RLG holds the gold standard in the Canada’s Best Managed Companies program, retaining a presence on that prestigious list for 12 of the last 18 years.
“For over 30 years, we've been focusing on how to connect the front line to the bottom line,” Farrow explained.” Many, many hands are involved in complex, capital-intensive projects that require input from contractors, suppliers, service people, operations people, and different types of specialty sectors. What we take is a plan, which might be owned by a single end customer, and find ways to engage all of those contributors to that final product. Everyone has a part to play, so we bring people together to look at very specific parts of the interfaces. We'll start with two different players and it will multiply up to hundreds of different players providing input.”
With offices in Vancouver, Houston, Scotland, Kazakhstan, and Australia the firm lends its expertise to global powerhouses in the energy resource, aerospace, manufacturing, shipbuilding, mining, and forest product sectors.
“We focus on developing and strengthening the front-line teams, supervisors, and middle management,” reported company COO Rick Heyland. “There are a lot of really good senior teams and execs. For the most part, plant people become supervisors because they're good at their trade and craft. They have a strong vision of intended outcomes but are often held up by project complexities at the front line.”
“We are the folks in coveralls going into these plants, actually working with the front line to make step changes. We work in a sustainable fashion to implement processes and strategies that, if they’re continued, will drive improved results long after we're gone. We will get you step change improvement, coach your front line employees to improve their confidence and competence as leaders, and we will do it sustainably for lasting results. That combination is quite powerful, and that's our sweet spot.”
Better Engagement Yields Better Performance
Gary Yesavage, Chevron’s former president of manufacturing for its downstream and chemicals operations, worked with RLG to improve maintenance turnarounds for the refinery he managed. “I've worked with many different consulting companies that are real good at senior levels, but come across as rather standoffish, saying 'Let me tell you what you're doing wrong.' The difference with RLG is that they don't tell you what to do. They come in and try to understand your work process and what turnaround process questions you have. They have the ability to take three to five key metrics and frame them in a way that makes them visible in clear terms so senior leadership can then ask the right kinds of questions,” he reported.
Yesavage’s refinery employed 1,200 Chevron workers and about 500 contractors. “In a large turnaround, 500 grows to 3,000, so you've got a mass of humanity coming together over a six-week period. You have to figure out how to build camaraderie and teamwork so everyone can be on the same page. That's something that I found RLG was particularly good at,” he added. “There may be 20 or 30 different contracting companies working on your project, so how do you get them engaged? How do you get them all on the same team whether they work for a contractor or Chevron? The ability to do that, in my mind, differentiates RLG from others in the consulting space.”
Unlike consultancies that arrive on the company doorstep with a take-no-prisoners approach, RLG believes that the ultimate investment in people should be nourished and maintained. “There are new ways you can do things that are safer, more fit for purpose, and less costly and have nothing to do with cutting people's jobs or doing it with fewer people,” Farrow stressed. “That's the thing that we love about our work. We come from an approach of, ‘You've got this resource, now how do we use it? How do we get more from it and make it a positive experience for everyone involved?’”
Heyland concurred. “A lot of companies are under an extreme amount of pressure to perform, and we're the ones they call on. We don't save the cost of production by cutting staff. There are other companies that do that, but that’s not us.”
Of course, RLG uses a host of tools and metrics required to judge, refine, and demonstrate performance, but it’s the deeper connection they foster with stakeholders at every level of the organization that makes them one of Canada’s very best.
“Companies must recognize that brilliance is scattered all over their organization, and if they want to be better, it doesn't need to be a caustic house-cleaning nor does it have to be a painful shake-up. All they really need is to tap into the talent of their people.” Farrow advised.
“Stop trying to make true the statement that the people who are paid the most bucks have to come up with all the solutions,” he continued. “Recognize that if you’re working with RLG, we're looking to tap into the brilliance from all levels of the organization, looking for synergies that can be created when you have people talking about the business at every level, and making sure that engagement is a part of their business.
“Employees need to feel that their voices matter, and that they are integral parts of their business. If they drive a forklift, manage a payable, make decisions on quality or cost, whatever a person’s role is in the organization, they can be engaged to provide more for that organization, resulting in a step change in performance and a better place to work,” he concluded. “It's a very positive experience. Our clients invite our people back to celebrate successes years after we're finished. We become part of creating a new environment, and that is an exciting place to be.”
RLG is a worldwide organization of performance improvement specialists. It partners with companies for an immediate, lasting impact on financial performance and corporate culture, through front-line engagement. Its process is all about people, and most definitely about results. RLG invites you to explore its site and share its vision of inspiring performance excellence.
Imagine what your business could be if all your employees treated your company as if it were their own and worked together every single day to make it a better, more productive place. The possibilities would be limitless. Imagine people that would help you explore these possibilities for your company, helping turn possibilities into reality.
RLG's employees share its belief that people hold the key to success in any organization. They are driven to help organizations and individuals reach their full organizational, professional and personal goals. They have a proven ability to work with individuals and teams throughout all levels of an organization, from hourly operators to the CEO.
RLG's project managers and their families relocate to client work sites for the duration of an implementation, exclusively focusing on an assignment. This commitment allows RLG employees to blend with our client's employees and integrate within an organization on a much deeper level, and is so effective in achieving project objectives that our clients realize a multiple return on their investment and experience lasting cultural change.
Its people are skilled, experienced, and deeply committed to success in bringing to life the RLG Vision and Mission on a very personal level.