5 Minutes With

Mactaggart & Mickel

Real world insights on Change Readiness from the Top Business Leaders of Today.

Mactaggart & Mickel are one of the 3% of family-owned businesses that has survived into the fourth generation. Being in business for over 90 years, this organisation has seen an amazing amount of change. They have continued to evolve throughout almost a century of technological advances, changing government policies, cultural and environmental revolutions and recessions. Their success has stemmed from providing a strong foundation of processes and structure, combined with encouraging a culture of collaboration and a solid focus on a shared vision.

Changing Point had a sit down with two of their Board Members, Marion Forbes – Director and Paul McAninch – Group Finance Director, to hear some of the ways their blueprint has evolved over the last 10 years.

Q: In your experience, why is it important to adapt organisational processes to support continued evolution and growth?

  • – “Things are changing and evolving all the time. So, we need to ensure that our people have a clear map and a full understanding of what we need to do to be successful in that environment. We also need to give them that opportunity to grow and develop, and to use all of the learning that we’ve put into place. We’ve done a lot of that through the Re-engineering programme*, which provided people with a clear understanding of process, but also energised them in their roles.”


    – “Business these days doesn’t get any less complex. The growing complexity means that we need to continually adapt our processes to make sure they are still fitting the purpose. And in doing so, make sure they are still as lean and efficient as they should be. That’s a productivity piece as well. I think that balance is really something to strive for.”

Q: How has your organisational “blueprint” evolved through some of the big changes over the last 10 years?

  • – “The biggest change for us happened when the economy started to decline, and we came to the realisation that we need to be more than a house builder. We had to diversify. And actually, that journey has probably led us to the point of “re-engineering”. That external environment has had a huge influence on the organisation. The programme came about because of the complexities that resulted from so many changes at once. Each stage of our process varies in terms of completion. We developed a relay map, which really made us stand back, and realise we needed to address our processes and make them more efficient and perceptive. It also brought about a strong need for improvement in the quality of information we were giving our people. That came out powerfully in all of our engagement surveys. The root cause of the issues was inconsistency of communication. It affected our profitability, engagement, efficiencies, every aspect of our business. And honestly, we are still on our journey with that as our environment constantly evolves. What we do have is a solid platform and structure, which is fit for today’s unpredictable business.”


    – “The way we go about decision making, everything is far more flexible. Before diversifying, things were more certain in the past. Whereas now, we don’t have a certain political or economic landscape. So actually, we are having to be very fleet of foot and evolve through various parts of our organisation. In terms of structure, we recalibrated where assets lie within the business, where income streams and business activities take place, and we’ve also looked at the resourcing of all that as well. Marion is right, the catalyst for that was the recession. Uncertainty with the landscape led us be more agile and processes are far more changeable now.”


    – “Our leadership style is continuing to evolve as well. We are more transformational now. We went from being fairly authoritative, to an environment where people feel more empowered, and we’re ensuring that they have autonomy and ownership in their roles.”


    – “We are looking to have far more leaders within the business than before. That’s because of the culture change, our new agenda, and how we go about our business now. We engage people and get them more involved, both within, and outside of the organisation. We are far more outward looking, given the unpredictable landscape. It’s also impacted the way we resource and use outside contractors for their expertise. Even 5-6 years ago, we never would have been pioneering enough to seek a company like Changing Point for the leadership and change programmes. Opening our minds to other expertise allowed us to do more with our current resources and stay lean.”

Marion Forbes

There was an understanding that some of our resources needed to be spent on processes for areas that weren’t our strengths. And that alone took a change in culture for us to accept.

Q: What positive results have you seen from aligning defined roles and expectations to the ‘One team’ change vision?

  • – “First, I think we all benefited personally from that, in terms of our own education, and governance, and having a clear vision on what our priorities should be. We began to recognise different needs within our meetings, whether it be dialogue, or challenging, or debate. One of the strongest things that came off the back of that was the communication improvements. Now, for example we do a ‘Post Board’ communication to the entire organisation. There’s transparency for everyone of what is being discussed. In the past, we had ‘Office initiatives’ and ‘Site initiatives’. Whereas now, we have ‘Organisation initiatives’. This small tweak has brought together members from all teams, working together instead of running the risk of silo mentality.”


    – “I think what it’s helped us to do is break down some of the barriers we were facing. It has absolutely helped us become much more of a culture of collaboration and create an understanding that we are all here to support each other. Ultimately, we are all here to build and sell homes. Today, there’s more of an understanding both ways, from office to site and vice versa. We need each other to deliver, we are ONE TEAM. I think there has been a huge change in attitude, from all parties, to that. And there’s a far better appreciation of the complexity of all job roles, as well as the value that they deliver.” Initiatives such as ‘job shadowing’ has assisted with developing this understanding.”

Q: How does M&M ensure that people are engaged and involved in policy and procedural changes across departments?

  • – “I think the thing that we’ve recognised is that we need to take our people with us. The best way to do that is to involve them in it. It’s so important to make sure that everyone feels like they have a voice in the business. Here’s an example; We conducted an employee engagement survey recently, got the results, but instead of talking about them amongst Directors/Managers, we asked for volunteers to work on these issues. We wanted to see if there was anyone that would be willing to put their foot forward and get involved. Without hesitation, there were 33 volunteers. So, we took the 5 key strands from the surveys and put together 5 teams. The teams came up with 77 proposals which were presented to the board for changes, of which 63 were signed off on and actioned.”


    – “Adding to that, part of that engagement initiative, is actually explaining why the other 14 proposals that weren’t agreed. And explaining why with rationales, so that they don’t feel let down. We’ve asked them to follow through, so we need to make sure we are doing the same.

    Also, we don’t just focus on the negative. We hold Employer of Choice forums, where people from all across the business suggest improvement opportunities as well as recognising the things that are going really well to allow us to celebrate those. The most important piece that ties this all together, is that we communicate all these discussions to everyone throughout the organisation.”

Paul McAninch

“If you engage, you need to deliver!”

Q: What’s the top piece of advice you would give organisations looking to integrate people into organisational process and structural changes?

  • – “Involve your people from Day 1. Have a transparent communication system, and a structure that gives everyone a ‘voice’. It should be real. Too many organisations make the decision, and then bring in the people. What we do now, is go straight to the people. Ask them for ideas. It’s amazing the feedback you get and the difference it can make.”


    – “Try a bottom up approach. That’s where the real value comes out. Because they know better than us. And…

    You cannot communicate enough!

* Re-engineering programme is the in-house bespoke programme that Changing Point developed and delivered to support Mactaggart & Mickel on their change journey.