Mirri Leven was in a situation that is familiar to many SME business owners. She had grown a successful business… but when it came to managing HR and people issues, she had no idea where to turn.
Mirri’s business – Cooee Art Gallery – is the oldest indigenous art gallery in Australia. It had grown to a point where alongside Mirri and two other directors, the business also had three staff members.
“I was having some issues with one of our staff members and it was causing a bit of a rift. We were a small business, so we had never set anything formal in place with any of the staff. I don’t have an HR background and I didn’t even really know what my options were or even what rights my employee had in the situation.
I had no idea who to contact or what direction to head in. The issue was starting to become quite desperate. I was calling around trying to get advice and someone referred me to ChandlerWoods.”
Mirri called Melissa and from there they implemented a plan. They started with a meeting between the directors to establish the goals and understand the issue. Melissa also ran several surveys with all of the staff to get a picture of the culture and the sentiment within the team.
“Melissa was able to help me and the other directors to see where the staff were coming from. It’s amazing how easy it is to solve issues when you listen to people to understand what they want.
It’s very easy to get bogged down in the details, but Melissa was able to take a very macro view of the entire business and translate that into a way forward. Everyone felt heard in the process, which is really important.”
Using Melissa’s process, it was much easier to resolve the issue than Mirri was expecting. But that was only the beginning. From there, Melissa helped Mirri and the team to lay their HR compliance foundations.
“In a small business you tend to get so lost in just getting the job done. It’s very reactive. Everyone is a jack of all trades and it very easily becomes a mess. Melissa helped us to clear away a lot of that noise so we could clearly define our roles and ensure everyone felt heard and valued.
We then moved onto our manuals, policies, contracts, documents and related procedures. We also got to the point where we needed to hire two new staff, and Melissa was invaluable in giving us the tools to hire the right people for the roles.”
ChandlerWoods is now a trusted partner to Mirri and Cooee Art Gallery. With a solid foundation in place, the focus is on continuing to grow the business and putting the systems and processes in place to do that.
And then COVID-19 hit.
“We were focused on growth, but with COVID, we had to take a sideways step. Thanks to ChandlerWoods, we had everything in place to keep moving forward.
Melissa helped us a lot with the procedures and documentation we needed to respond to the situation.
Unfortunately, we also had to let one of our staff go, and Melissa was a great support through that.”
Mirri has her sights set on the future. She has a solid foundation on which to build and take Cooee Art Gallery to new heights.
“Our staff are now working more efficiently… I can see that in the sales figures coming through the business.
And even the staff we have hired have been better suited to the business than they have been in the past.
Knowing that I have someone I can call to get advice at any time is invaluable. It’s so easy to run inefficiently, but when you take the time and invest the money to get it right, it pays back ten times over.”