Middleton Group is justifiably proud of its excellent workplace culture, having been named by the AFR as one of the Top 4 Best Places to work in the construction and property sector. Middleton approached Polykala to further its diversity objectives.

Context

Middleton has set out since its founding to lead the transition towards renewable energy and provide the engineering solutions required to make the switch. They’ve given grid advice to Phillip island to help it switch to solar, for its 12,000 strong population, helped design battery storage solutions for the ACT government and helped Sydney Water achieve its climate change goals. Kicking goals like this requires a healthy, robust and kind organisational culture. 

In 2020, Founding Director Keith Middleton contacted Polykala to further his organisation’s ambitions at leading the engineering industry in meeting and exceeding its diversity and inclusion objectives. 

The team at Middleton partnered with Polykala to invest systematically in Middleton’s rapid growth and ensure that it retained its tight-knit feeling while attracting and retaining women, often a challenge in early phases of engineering and manufacturing organisations. Middelton wanted not only to achieve world-class outcomes in the renewable energy space, it also wanted its organisational culture to be the best in its class. 

Approach

We worked closely with the senior management team over the course of two-months to understand the Middleton context and to build the holding environment for adaptive and technical work. We ascertained that Middleton didn’t have a ‘problem’, they just didn’t have a frame for understanding the cultural dimensions of their organisation’s rapid growth. We worked with the team to contextualise the adaptive leadership approach to change, loss, preservation and growth. We then supported the senior management team to consider diversity and inclusion as development objectives that would require tough conversations about trade-offs, values and norms. Their team was more than up for the challenge. They recognised that a common language around adaptation and the values of diversity and inclusion were needed across the entire organisation. Over the next two months we held two day-long workshops that focussed on the dynamics of organisational change, courageous conversations and respectful influencing. 

The sessions culminated in each participant formulating and sharing their leadership action statements geared towards increasing the level of self-authorisation and agency across the firm. For Middleton, making progress on diversity and inclusion was more about unleashing distributed leadership and granting the permission for staff to take initiative and make a difference irrespective of their position. 

Outcomes

Working with Middleton Group for the best part of year in design, delivery and lengthy post-program integration gives us immense satisfaction. Keith Middelton shared with us that our work helped validate his core value of fairness and creating the conditions where all staff can see themselves represented in the firm and bring their talents in full to work. Since our work with Middleton, we’re delighted to note that diversity, inclusion and human-centred practice have become core for the organisation. Middleton is now a 100% employee owned business which aligns closely with its people-centred values. The firm is walking its talk, acting as an example for best-practice both in terms of its culture and its efforts to decarbonise our economy. 

Client

Middleton Group

Year

2020

Number of participants

50

Number of sessions

2

Location

Melbourne (VIC)