Case Studies

Reflections On Implementing Care And Growth In A Manufacturing Context In The USA

Mar 2017

As told by a Senior Operations Manager

We started using “Care and Growth” in the USA about 5 years ago. “Care and Growth” is really about changing yourself and changing your team, and to achieve this it is important to have a clear sense of purpose.


If you decide to embark on care and growth with your team, make sure you have a clear “why” behind what you are doing.

The main reason we were successful in introducing “Care and Growth”, and getting individuals to change their behavior, was because we had a sense of purpose.

As a management team, we had many discussions about the kind of site and culture we wanted. We decided to ask what could be done to create a culture which would encourage the behaviours we were looking for.

We spoke to someone who had experience in the implementation of “Care and Growth,” we had some initial training, and then we went back to our site to decide how to implement it locally.

Our clear sense of purpose was to use “Care and Growth” to help support the culture we had decided we wanted. It was very important to have a clear sense of purpose.


Practicing “Care and Growth” is not just about doing workshops. A common mistake is for people to say “I have done the two-day introduction course and it makes sense so we will send some more people on the two-day. I will send my whole team on it, and then I’m done.” But clearly that’s not going to change either you or the individuals you send. “Care and Growth” is about practicing and doing. By analogy, you can watch videos and read books about fitness, diet, weight control, or golf, and you can join the most expensive gym, but unless you go out and start practicing your golf swing or going to the gym or changing your diet, you are not going to change. So it’s really about doing something different as opposed to just attending a course or a training session. The workshops and the modules provided by Legitimate Leadership are enablers and very useful in supporting change. However the true change will only come about when you go out there and practice!


After attending a workshop or module, and wanting to use the “Care and Growth” framework, some leaders make the mistake of allowing their people the freedom to do as they please, as this is now “Care and Growth”. This may indicate an “empowering” approach in which it’s bad to say no. But I think it’s quite the opposite. Taking a “Care and Growth” approach is very much about setting clear goals and objectives. And it’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s expected that you should say no when appropriate, and with the correct intent.

Another analogy is setting a team the goal of climbing a mountain. It is not negotiable. It is not “maybe we will climb the mountain”; instead, “we are definitely going to climb the mountain!” There are going to be many people in your team requiring varying levels of support. So in terms of watching your team and what they may need as individuals, you may have to adjust your leadership style to give them what they need.

I believe “Care and Growth” has a lot to do with the context, and the context has a lot to do with levels of maturity. For example: a very young child will have to be put to bed. When the child is slightly older, a time can be set for him to go to bed. And by the time your child is 12-15 years old, you’re not going to tell him when to go to bed – he can hopefully manage himself. It’s about giving what’s appropriate, based on maturity.


Do not embark on a “Care and Growth” journey if you are not willing to change yourself. I’ve known people to say they like the framework, believe in it, and would like to work for a boss like that – but they aren’t going to change. These same managers send their staff on training. Obviously that is not going to work.

There was a highly technical person at a senior level in the company who went on the two-day “Care and Growth” workshop. Before the workshop he was a typical technical expert – whenever the phone rang the call was for him because he knew everything. He did not have time to network or do things other than be the technical expert and have all the work channelled through him.

He decided to change. When he had meetings with people, instead of talking only about technical issues he decided to talk about personal issues – about what were they enjoying or not enjoying, about what they were doing. What did they need more of? His people responded well as he began to understand what their real needs were. Then he began handing over tasks he had previously thought they either did not want or were not ready for. He spent more time visiting other sites; he channelled many of the calls through to his team members because they had actually grown.

That’s an example of how to start implementing “Care and Growth” as an individual.


You must have a plan for the journey and a process to follow, that works for you.

People try different things. For example, in one plant people got Wendy Lambourne’s Legitimate Leadership book and read different chapters every month and discussed what it meant to them.

At another site, teams had a monthly meeting but instead of talking about production, they talked about leadership issues.

In the performance management system, we started measuring people against desired behaviours. When it came to promoting people, we started taking these required behaviours into account instead of looking at just whether they had interviewed well or possessed certain skills.

The “Care and Growth” framework is both an enabler and a lens through which to observe leadership – a way to make a success of it.

On the site, implementing “Care and Growth” was mainly led by myself and the HR manager. We both attended the two-day course and felt that this was something to help achieve our goal.

Define what you’re trying to achieve and decide on a project management team or tool to do so.


Some individuals may change relatively quickly. Generally speaking, however, change takes longer – months, even years. In a group, you are never going to get everyone to the optimal level so it is more about an average, or mean. There are people who will never get it, and there are people who strongly get it – just make sure you move that “average”.

At a certain point there will be more people actually wanting to perform “Care and Growth” than doing so only because it is a requirement. That is a crucial point after which things start to happen much more naturally. All this takes time – like any exercise programme, fitness regime, or golf video. It depends where your starting point is and the size of the team.

But as individuals, you can start changing tomorrow.


Whenever I need further clarity around the “Care and Growth” framework, I try to relate it back to my own children. I’m trying to grow my children to be the best possible people they can be, so the question is what should I be doing for them? You don’t necessarily do the same thing for each of your children. And you do different things for the same child at different ages. For instance, in teaching a child to walk, when is it appropriate to hold her hand, and when not? It’s not one-size-fits-all; it’s about watching the game and understanding the needs of people in your team.

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