Adding value to individual development

Read through these twelve points which cover some of the most basic ones, and see what you could add to your own business.

1. Recruitment was, from the outset, based on a clearly defined role and this was shared with other people whenever relevant. I have never understood the method of allowing a new recruit to literally ‘turn up’ for a new job without a planned introduction and some earlier exposure to the team they will be working with. It is divisive, lacks constructive potential and minimises chance of success. Arrival was followed by a thoroughly planned and all-encompassing induction process (including all players) to allow exposure to all the parts of the business.

2. Genuine bi-annual career development reviews.

3. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with SMART goals. These were measured jointly at the year start to allow clarity for each individual on the way forward and their piece in the puzzle. In addition, we shared the company annual goals and targets.

4. An ‘ask and ye shall receive’ culture. Everyone knew the rule at Pacific regarding applications for spending money on training. If an individual could present a good enough case for attending a course, explain the benefits to them personally and the expected value to the company then we would support any suggestions.

5. We did not hire consultants at great expense. Indeed, I hardly ever used consultants as I always felt we had better people in-house who could learn from a ‘challenging project’ – perhaps not always their belief at the outset. If you do this you will be constantly amazed by the results delivered by anyone who is set a challenge and instilled with support, belief and a respect that they will get the job done. Sometimes a project approach with set parameters is a way of testing someone’s willingness to grow – and you may find a possible bonus a great way of getting more hours out of individuals who are showing willing and looking for more.

6. Down-to-earth common sense applied to personal challenges that individually arise is the backbone of success, but do not take precedence-setting lightly. Everyone should be treated equally and no one should be forced to join in events; it does your culture no good and not every person is the same.

7. We ensured that management knew the rules and were given enough leeway to develop their own success and celebrate, with their own budget to spend on their teams. If you do not do this you cannot expect your own personal efforts to filter through as the organisation grows. Your management have to be employed – or, better still, promoted internally – with clearly defined expectations for getting a job done. The longer you maintain speed of decision-making and flexibility in meeting a client’s needs, the more powerfully your growth will be maintained. Your own personal leadership behaviour is fundamental to those around you, so be consistent at all times. And be big enough to apologise if your behaviour gives the wrong impression.

8. Results were shared openly through monthly team briefings. These provided all players with priceless open communication on the progression of the company. I cannot emphasise enough the value of such events, which we held around the world, and the added momentum these opportunities gave the business as a whole.

9. Equality and trust were given unreservedly but within clear conditions of culture. The non-hierarchical environment we fostered enabled input from everyone; we heartily encouraged new joiners to bring their ideas, knowledge and experience to the company. Seeing the way ‘others’ approach their businesses can bring massive value, and at one stage we were great supporters of the ‘best in practice’ shared exposure to some really cool companies which team members visited.

10. People exchanged skills so roles could be covered comfortably during holidays.

11. We had impromptu breakout updates on exciting events or significant changes in the business.

12. And we had ‘down the pub evenings’, which can be priceless, not least in emphasising the importance of down time out of the office for all employees.

We also introduced 360-degree feedback, which proved very powerful. Admittedly, the thought of sitting in a room surrounded by your employees giving you feedback about your behaviour, approach or indeed anything is hideous. However, I learnt a great deal from this process and hope I had enough humility to learn from others. This is not terribly British, and is somewhat pointless if the culture of the business is not one that is open and constructively looking for continual improvement. Despite the obvious discomfort of being a lot less than perfect, I felt that it was only fair, given the feedback I gave and the drive I displayed, to expect others to treat me in the same way as I treated them. My team taught me a great deal about how not to behave and I hope, over several years of practice, I nearly became quite a decent human being. You cannot expect someone to change unless they are given constructive criticism about their poor performance.

Celebrating success – ideas and inspiration n One of the best celebrations that we gave at Pacific, and one which I know is still greatly valued today, was the time we had a professional photographer come to the offices for a day to take pictures of each member of the team – with anyone they invited to be in their shot. Family portraits were taken, as were team pictures and all sorts of variations on the theme. This was an especially good gift for a small company where many individuals could not afford the luxury of professional photographs, and the end result was a treasured gift.

On moving offices to our biggest and most professional base we held an opening event for suppliers and customers, staff members, their families and any other professionals who were involved. We had magicians and cartoonists attend, and I found the warmth and environment these opportunities created was resounding.

This extract is taken from More balls than most © Lara Morgan, 2011 (published by Infinite Ideas). Lara is founder of Company Shortcuts – a consultancy dedicated to excellence in sales and leadership. For tips, checklists and templates to help you grow your business, visit: www.companyshortcuts.com

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