Jim Joyce, management consultant with Best Practice Business Systems, has always been a leader who listened to those around him. This empathetic trait has allowed him to build and develop relationships with others. It seems that he has always understood the root cause behind poor performance, and the need to work hard to dismantle the existing system and to replace it with one that works. Consequently he builds a sense of trust with work colleagues, which not only strengthens the relationship, but also produces greater collaboration and improved productivity.
Jim chose an excellent profession to hone this skill. Having turned down a scholarship to Cambridge University for a more practical Civil Engineering degree course at King’s College, London, he entered the world of civil construction. He remembers “wanting to help others by building roads where there were none, irrigation systems where there was no water and power stations where there was no electricity”. This altruistic approach to life gave him many adventures, and he lived and worked for many years in six countries around the world.
He did indeed build roads in rural West Australia; dams and power stations in Tasmania; irrigation schemes in South Africa, the Channel Tunnel in the UK; irrigation dams and hydroelectric power stations in Pakistan, and motorways in Turkey. He remembers being driven by “always measuring before I manage” and to “never blame the person when productivity is down, always the process”. His listening skills and management abilities allowed him to massively improve productivity on all of his projects, and his phone would ring regularly to check his availability for another exciting project with a new employer. He remembers having to decide between a dam in Turkey and a port project in Pakistan, and always it was “how can I do the most good”.
Jim has written and had published papers in peer-reviewed construction magazines, and has participated in construction seminars. He quickly gained a reputation as a problem solver at the leading edge of construction knowledge.
He remembers missing civil engineering when he unexpectedly quit the profession to spend more time with his family. He studied for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and taught mathematics for a while, but always at the back of his mind was the need to pass on what he had experienced. He was discussing this need with a friend when the possibility of becoming a consultant was raised. For three months he shadowed his friend, a business coach in process management and quality management systems, and quickly realised that this was what he had been doing as a civil engineer. When he returned to Australia, he set up Best Practice Business Systems and took on the role of teaching leaders to become listeners. He invented the phrase ‘Reverse Process Management’ which allows a process owner to write their own process, which is then validated by their manager. The “buy in” that this created transformed not only the process but also the attitude and productivity of the employee. He has little time for managers who write processes for employees with minimal regard for employee input.
He has a passion for the benefits of Quality Management Systems; and in particular for the ISO 9000 family, which he regards as the most appropriate for small businesses who want to take the next step. All small businesses have structure, responsibilities and procedures, but these have been internally developed usually around the individual abilities of the leader and, to some extent, the employees. A Quality Management System takes the existing structure, responsibilities and procedures onto a new level where the intent is to eliminate errors by putting into place excellent processes that are created by reverse process management; by redefining responsibilities and establishing training needs; and by bringing empathy into the leadership role. As Jim says “watching some organisations suddenly get it and move onto a higher plane of operation brings great pleasure”.
Jim was born in Leicester, England where he spent his formative years mostly at the City of Leicester Boys’ Grammar School, affectionately known as the City Boys School. His passion for travel was developed through long cycling trips around the UK, and hitchhiking around Europe, even as far as Ankara in Turkey. “I was very humbled by the welcome offered by families in Turkey, who had not at that time experienced tourism”, he remembers. It was these adventures and experiences that helped develop his altruism.