When Mike Logue took over as CEO of bed retailer Dreams, the business was in administration and losing money fast. Yet after five years of rapid reform, profits are at an all time high.
Surprisingly, the hardest part of engineering this dramatic turnaround wasn’t finding funds, motivation or even talent. It was creating a management team that gelled. His solution was novel to say the least.
"Within five months of joining the company I’d replaced every member of the executive team bar my CFO. I now had a team with the skill set and desire to turn the business around, but there was a problem.
"You can recruit five or six new people, but how do you make a team? I could tell that around the table there was no interaction. I don't lead my team one to one, I think it's inefficient, I prefer to lead them as a group. Everyone in that team should know everyone else's business and what each other are doing because we have shared it in the room.
"We'd had away days, we'd had some breakfasts and we'd been travelling around in a minibus visiting stores, but I could tell the team just wasn't gelling.
"Eventually one of my business friends suggested I should take them on a yacht. I was sceptical, but he told me that by the end of the day I would either have a team or no team; but either way I'd know.
"We booked a sailing yacht out from Southampton.The process that the boat company runs is that you literally have to sail the boat or you're not going to get there. So if you don't work in harmony with each other, you are stuck.
"So we just learnt. We weren't talking about beds, we weren't talking about business - we just learnt about each other.
"We got off the boat in the evening and went to a restaurant. Everyone was talking and laughing, it wasn't me just driving the conversation. Up to that point we hadn't laughed, everything had been serious, but on that day we learnt about each other's character and personality.
"It was a key moment as I look back, because I realised we actually now stood a chance of turning the business around. Over the next three years we were a special team, we were testing products and marketing daily. Nothing was too difficult for this group because they became a team.
"It sounds trite but if you haven't got a team it’s a lot more hard work. If you're all working together in the same direction it becomes a lot easier. It becomes more challenging three or four years down the line as people move on, but it's my role as CEO to keep it progressing."
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Find out how Mike Logue took Dreams from administration to significant profit over the course of five years. For more on teamwork, think about the role of culture, as this article explains.
Image credits: Dreams beds