When Project ONE was put in place at AngloGold Ashanti, the company’s Geita Gold Mine became a pilot site for implementation. With a legacy of unresolved and persistent obstacles, a culture of uncertainty at Geita hindered the business and its people, affecting predictions of performance, the stability of the operation and casting doubt on its potential lifespan.
This uncertainty was apparent in all aspects of the business. A review of the people system in place in the organisation highlighted several findings, for example:
- Layering the organisation by pay scales produced too many layers of unclear managerial and supervisory roles and created the conditions in which managers consistently worked one to two levels below their own in ‘fire fighting’ mode.
- Lack of clarity regarding cross-functional work created friction between people and presented obstacles to achieving targets on time and within quality standards.
In the second quarter of 2009, Graham Ehm, previously the executive vice president in Australasia stepped in with the vision and managerial leadership to stabilise and turn around the operation and define a sustainable future. The resources for this endeavour included piloting the newly-established operating model through implementation of the System for People (SP) and the Business Process Framework (BPF).
By the third quarter of 2009, Geita had begun to meet its predictions of performance and has now produced to budget for six consecutive quarters. There remains much work to be done to complete implementation of the principles and practices of Project ONE, but the mine, now under the leadership of Gary Davies as Managing Director, is well on the road to financial stability.
The process of creating certainty began with communication from the managing director to establish context and direction for the organisation. Through one-on-one sessions the work and role of managers was clearly defined. The BPF methodology was used to establish processes and work methods and contributed to creating a culture of employee trust and certainty about the organisation and its future.
Familiarisation with the concepts and principles of SP has been an integral part of creating two-way managerial/team relationships and has helped Geita to achieve:
- certainty about strategy, plans and managerial leadership, with the dual objective of creating financial stability and clear short- and long-term goals;
- an organisational structure that supports business objectives, including specifying cross functional accountabilities and authorities; and
- clarifying managerial accountabilities and authorities for all managers.
“Workshops have been held to discuss Managerial Leadership Practices and now it is time for reflection”, says Vasu Govindsammy, the Geology Evaluation Manager at Geita. “The concepts are easy and the language is now familiar. My reflection is about how to best use these principles myself and how to help my subordinates use them to create an effective system of work.”
As a pilot site, Geita initially struggled to implement both SP and BPF simultaneously but wanted to realise the benefits of both aspects of Project ONE as quickly as possible. The process was supported by an external advisor, Rebecca Cason, who started working with a core group of managers at Geita in the first quarter of 2009. Rebecca worked with each manager to support effective use of the SP principles and practices. SP work at Geita is now facilitated by an internal advisor, Phillemon Tano, the organisational design/human resources manager.
"I am now using my understanding of capability when I recruit and hire new team members and it has made a difference in how I select candidates”, says Geita’s Sustainability Manager, Clement Msalangi. “I am doing more context setting for my team and have added context of the work as part of my recruitment and interviewing process. I believe this has been helpful in finding the right person for the right role."
Gary Davies, Geita’s current Managing Director, is confident about the benefits of SP and Project ONE in the business as a whole. “I see SP as part of Project ONE, transforming the business”, he says. “It does this by generating certainty about the organisation and understanding of the work to be done. Individuals are clear about their own roles and understand the accountabilities of their managers. This creates confidence in the managerial leadership system. We have redefined the organisation to create certainty for our people.”