Kate Mavor took over as Chief Executive of English Heritage, which is responsible for the preservation and upkeep of more than 400 historic monuments, buildings and places across the country, in 2015 – a watershed moment for the institution. His role was to oversee the splitting of the old Quango government into two branches, one, Historic England, remaining in public ownership, and the other, which retained the English Heritage name, becoming a charitable enterprise under the direction of Mavor.

“It’s really quite a difficult proposition to take a whole group of people who were then civil servants into a sphere where we had to earn a living, generate our own income and manage our own finances – but that’s what made me seduced in the work,” she explains.

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A graduate of Oxford University in Modern Languages ​​whose career has included stints in book publishing, language school management and marketing, Mavor is no stranger to organizational change, having previously led at both Project Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland through difficult financial times. His approach at English Heritage was to treat the transition as “a proposal for culture change – getting people to think differently about how important it is to be efficient and to find new sources of income”. What could have been deeply destabilizing turned out, she says, “very energizing for people, because instead of always looking to the minister, we are now masters of our own destiny”.

Here, Mavor shares his tips for navigating business change smoothly…

1/ Changing a company’s culture is a matter of the heart, not the mind

“You can try to rationalize a decision and explain to people why they need to do something, but most people find change difficult. So instead, what you need to do is paint a vision of how brilliant it will be to achieve something together. You should also describe the downsides – what happens if you don’t change. In our case, it was about discussing the threat of losing the freedoms we would like to have.

2/ Be transparent about issues and opportunities

“What I’ve done at English Heritage is make sure that how our finances work is clearly communicated to everyone at all levels. I started by touring the country telling people why not realizing the savings we needed would result in not meeting our goals, and I was honest about the difficulties. Most people understand the idea of ​​profit and loss if you spell it out clearly.

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3/ Set up the right team

“When you step into a role, the first thing you need to do is assess the team and get the right people around the table. Give yourself plenty of time to allow that team to gel: let them through time together, discussing things, chewing the grease Get in the shoes of what drives each person because that’s what will make you successful If you have a great team they will basically be able to run the business , giving you the chance as a leader to raise your head a bit, manage stakeholders, and work on partnerships and bigger things with the organization.

4/ Develop motivation

“Find out what interests people, then tap into that passion. With English Heritage, it was about showing staff that the more money they generate, the more they can protect the buildings, monuments and artefacts they care about – whether it’s a castle in Yorkshire, from protecting a Rembrandt painting to ensuring that every novel piece we managed to find is stored so it won’t rust or disintegrate. It’s a virtuous cycle: when people see what money can do, they crave more and better fundraising.

5/ Celebrate successes

“Make sure you highlight good examples of the new way of doing things so people have a sense of achievement. Nominate yourself for the awards and make everyone feel very positive about the new world.

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