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Culture and Engagement

Building a more collaborative and productive workplace

Swanndri was established in 1913 by William Broome, a tailor who developed the first ‘bush shirt’ for Kiwi farmers. It soon became an iconic brand that’s synonymous with rural New Zealand. Since 2010, the business has worked hard to stay relevant and grow market share in an increasingly urbanised world.

Their redefined brand strategy enabled Swanndri to stay loyal to their rural backbone, while expanding into overseas markets and New Zealand’s cities through smart product development and distribution partnerships.

Nowadays, you’re almost as likely to find a ‘Swanny’ hanging in an urban wardrobe as you are a rural one.

This is a big test Swanny’ hanging in an urban wardrobe as you are a rural one. Swanny’ hanging in an urban wardrobe as you are a rural one.



What are your biggest organisational challenges?

Breathing new life into the Swanndri brand hasn’t been without its challenges. Mark Nevin, Swanndri’s CEO says, “We’re a small, flexible, fast organisation that’s been working really hard to change the business. Sometimes when you do that you forget some of the little things you need to pay attention to.” Mark recognised it was time to take stock.

Swanndri wanted a system that would allow them to measure how they were doing in all of the areas that impact business success. It would need to be flexible, real-time and easy-to-use. AskYourTeam was the only system available that ticked all these boxes.

“Like a lot of organisations, we have our backs against the wall. You complete one task or one season and you move on to the next, without actually taking a moment to reflect on what you did well and what you didn’t.”

— Mark Nevin, Chief Executive Officer, Swanndri

What was the solution?

Since AskYourTeam drills down into the areas that research has shown have the greatest impact on business success, Mark was initially a little hesitant about what the system might uncover. “Once I overcame any anxieties that I had about the level of scrutiny I might be under as a leader, I was really enthusiastic about what the system could do for us.

It was almost cathartic in many ways, because it was like a weight being taken off my shoulders and shared around the group.

Mark was delighted with the way the Swanndri team embraced the AskYourTeam system. “Even in the first meeting, there was a whole lot of positivity around the room. The benefit of the whole group being involved is that it allows for everyone to have an equal voice, not just management or the vocal few.”


What were the results?

The results from Swanndri’s first company-wide baseline survey showed the business was performing strongly. However, it did pinpoint a number of areas for improvement. One of these was enabling the team to have a better understanding of what their colleagues’ jobs entailed.

Building a more collaborative and productive workplace

“Everyone knew what each person’s job title was, but they didn’t actually know what they did on a day-to-day basis, and how their jobs might influence others within the business.”

— Mark Nevin, Chief Executive Officer, Swanndri

The team decided to run a series of presentations where each staff member talked about what they do in their jobs, and what challenges they faced. Mark was surprised at how immediately effective this process was. The result has been been a more collaborative and productive workforce.

To date, Swanndri has conducted two business-wide baseline surveys and one customised re-test. Mark reports, “We made significant improvement across the whole business, but a couple of areas where we’d been performing pretty poorly showed the biggest improvement of all. It was just fantastic. It was a credit to the team.”

And it’s not just management who are thrilled with the results. Mark says using AskYourTeam has had a positive flow-on effect at all levels of the business. “Economically we’re doing really well, and so there’s a whole synergy that comes into play because people are feeling really good about their roles, the business is performing well, and it all starts layering up on each other.”


Looking ahead?

Mark is enthusiastic about the support Swanndri received from AskYourTeam throughout the entire process.

“Before our first survey, AskYourTeam clearly explained how the system works and what I needed to do prior to commencement, and provided support and reminders during the survey. They helped me to interpret the results and understand where to prioritise my attention, and also how to deliver the results to enable the team to collectively come up with solutions.”

To see the views of both our distributions and our frontline people was quite a revelation.

Ben Reed
Managing Director, HAMILTONJET
Organisation: Swandri
Sector: Business
Employees: 2,000+
Results: 96% completion rate
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