The HG Group provides heavy equipment to the earth moving and mining industries across New Zealand, running three integrated companies out of their headquarters in Masterton. One offers earth moving equipment for hire, one offers mobile rock processing machinery, also for hire, and the third sells attachments such as buckets and grabs.
The companies are family businesses run by the family with Gem Hart operating as leader.The family’s fascination with heavy equipment goes back three generations. ‘My grandfather was a bit of a farmer, but farming wasn’t really him,' Hart told RESULTS. 'It was really earth moving. My father was also a farmer in his early days, until he was about 30, and then he went back to earth moving, too. I guess that’s actually the basis of our business today. We have an understanding, or, if you like, a love for machinery.’
HG Group was started when Gem’s father, Joe Hart, left his father’s company and established his own in 2003. ‘He’s got seven children in the family, five sons and two daughters. All the sons are in the business today. We came into it out of school, with a bit of passion and ambition.’
That drove HG Group’s expansion.. ‘Now the business is continually improving, continually evolving,' Gem said. ‘We’ve got employees who have been here seven or eight years, which has lifted our professionalism quite a lot.’
To support that continual improvement and to win the long-term commitment of their employees, Hart studies management. ‘From when we started to where we are today, all along we reached out for help to make sure we were getting an outside perspective, not just our own,’ he said. ‘You can hold yourself back if you don’t know what’s being done at world class organizations and their best practices.’
RESULTS provided one of those outside perspectives. In fact, HG Group is a classic example of a RESULTS client that uses the platform in much the same way HG Group’s clients use heavy machinery: as a tool. The platform is a means to an ends. ‘The biggest single thing we’ve taken away from RESULTS is really the training around using it, and the best practices that go into it. RESULTS software is a commitment the business has to make. You have to apply the discipline. Without doing that, implementation of the software is a waste of time and meaningless. It is not a Silver Bullet by itself.’ Hart said.
‘We now rely on the platform as the hub at the center of our business,I check my own dashboard 3-4 times a day, making sure that tasks are getting done, and RESULTS helps to make sure that things are moving along. We’ve now got most of our leadership team using it.’
‘Revenue has doubled since we began using RESULTS,' Hart said, noting that the impact has been cultural as well as financial. ‘I’m having my managers go through all the Certifications: Metrics that Matter, Meetings with Impact, Modern Management fundamentals. I think that’s all so critical.’
RESULTS has had a significant impact on communications and employee understanding. The platform’s Meetings interface has changed the way they manage projects, and it’s changed the way they use data. In both cases, productivity has spiked thanks to increased understanding. ’Pre-populating meetings, I think, is essential,’ Hart said. ‘As you teach it in your course, being productive in a meeting starts with making sure you’re prepared. Everyone knows what the purpose of the meeting is. One thing that’s interesting is that I’ve actually moved most of our meetings to Monday, which has been really good, because on Friday night or Sunday night you put in all your notes, and that has helped make the meetings really flow.’
A lot of those notes are about metrics, which Hart has used to define jobs and to help his 38 employees know exactly how well they are performing. ‘We’ve updated their job descriptions to role cards, which is another thing that I’ve learned from RESULTS,’ Hart explained. ‘And I think its been important and really key. The first part of their role card is KPIs, and then it goes through your core values and behaviors, and your skills, abilities and talents. I think that’s quite important.
‘They see that 50% of their job is meeting KPIs, and the other 50% is Core Values. That has helped us really clarify jobs and even helped our managers in discussions. Now we can say, “This is a critical number and you’re not achieving it, which means you’re not doing your job, are we correct?” That really helped people understand. Now you can know what you have to do to do your job well.’
RESULTS has seen many executives hesitate when it comes to revealing data to their employees, but Hart has always embraced the right level of transparency. As his team became more knowledgeable, he revealed even more. ‘Now we go as far down as net profit and cost of sales,’ he said. ‘I think people want to know that their job’s OK and that the company is safe. So that’s why I’m willing to share net profit or loss. If its green or red, I know that our staff knows that’s part of the picture, from a financial perspective, as to how well the business is doing.’
His employees have responded exactly as Hart wanted. They have become financially astute, and so he has been able to rely upon them more. ‘We’ve worked on how we empower, and we coach our team based on RESULTS’ training, which is to know the goal, the reality, the options–and the will. I think a lot of our people have gotten the confidence to say, “Hey we can do this,” and they make the right decisions.'
It’s instructive to look at how the management philosophy that RESULTS facilitates dovetails with HG Group’s mission. Hart’s companies set out ‘to add to the welfare and prosperity of the wider community and all mankind,’ while trying ‘to do what is right and commendable at all times.’
‘One of our values is teamwork, and that’s making sure that we’re treating everyone as a team member. Now a lot of our people even act as owners. Often you’ll see people go over and above what they need to do. For instance, just recently we had two people here because they wanted to make sure that things were done right for our customers. But they were actually on annual leave. I think that its quite rewarding to see that their hearts are in it.’