As an ardent follower of Top Gear show I was prepared to give the new presenters a chance and see how they developed, though there were various grumblings from the beginning, not least from media critics. The rumour that Evans and co-presenter Matt Le Blanc didn’t really see eye to eye perhaps was probably a sign of things to come.
It’s strange that, even after a fairly poor start to the new series, most of the show’s stars managed to settle. Not so Chris Evans who seemed a little uncomfortable despite his presenting credentials over the years and his obvious talent. He didn’t appear to have the same motoring knowledge of his predecessors and was often at a loss for interesting and humorous things to say – a prerequisite you might expect for the popular Top Gear programme.
Of course, the best option for Top Gear may have been to give it some time off while the dust settled following the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson and the subsequent departure of sidekicks Richard Hammond and James May. Perhaps there was a degree of bloody mindedness on the part of the Beeb in that they didn’t realise what a loss their three core presenters was going to be. And with pressure to maintain international sales, they took action and soldiered on out of fear the brand might lose traction.
They needed someone to lead the transition and the truth was that Chris Evans was brought in more like an interim manager than someone who could really make a difference long term.
Having said that, some of the transition issues faced by the Top Gear production team are similar to the changes the Oil and Gas sector is currently going through and the companies we are working with.
The loss of employees puts IT and HR departments under pressure. Ensuring software and processes remain functional while there isn’t the time, resource or in-house skill available to look at potential improvements in the overall system is a difficult blow to absorb. They are also under severe pressure to manage cost, increase profit and look for quick fixes, often applying a sticking plaster solution without properly considering other options.
Working closely with clients from both large oil and gas corporations to SMEs, we often have to deal with situations where companies have faced major staff changes that need to be handled by an interim team.
Having an effective team in place can help organisations boost profit margins by improving operational efficiency through better use of IT systems, evaluate existing processes and systems and recommend improvements that make organisations much more profitable. It’s not just someone to keep the engine running, without much thought to what damage it might cause in the long term, it’s about people who have the right skillset or that extra something that will make a difference. After all, businesses will only survive by being highly efficient and effective in maximising value.
We have worked with companies, even SMEs, who have whole departments operating in isolation. Lack of direction can certainly be compounded if the wrong people are brought in to fill the gap or fill roles because an in-house solution is seen as a cheaper way in the bid to reduce cost.
They have no strong steer, sourcing multiple systems and using software packages which are often more complex and expensive than for what they actually need them to do. Instead of re-evaluating and maximising the use of one system or existing system to work better for them, this approach can lead to conflicts between employees and cause so much uncertainty that no one performs to their potential.
You see your business through a certain prism and getting away from that viewpoint and addressing all the potential problems and impacts of any change can be difficult, if not impossible.
This is where an interim solution can make a big difference; getting impartial advice and help from an independent person who can look at your business from a different angle.
A fresh pair of eyes can see things objectively; help people develop the competency, capability and capacity or operational procedures that will make changes run smoothly; or, work with existing employees to ensure a less painful transition. It can fill the gap and move your business forward rather than simply leaving you and your staff hoping for the best and treading water.
It might just be that your staff are overwhelmed by current work and all they need is a little help to get through the current problems. Consultants help add value just when your business needs it by providing different strengths that support staff, benefit working practices within your company and identify where value can be added.
In a statement, Evans said: “I have never worked with a more committed and driven team than the team I have worked with over the last twelve months. I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause”
Evans was clearly not the right man for the Top Gear job. One thing he did achieve was to help the newer presenters to flourish so they could take the lead and move the programme forward. It’s the same with consultancy, find those smaller organisations who yes may be a little more expensive in the short-term but they take the time to understand your business, are obsessive about it; don’t treat you as a commodity and genuinely want to add value in different ways therefore, in the long-term, helping to support permanent staff before stepping aside to let them take your business forward.
If you run an SME business, give some thought to what might help your staff and why. Maybe a good interim consultant with impartial advice might be the thing that can help drive your performance forward?
Appetite for Business supports businesses by providing the following services