Viewpoints

On Bravery

Bravery is the main ingredient in greatness

As a society, we revere bravery. We love Superman and Harry Potter, for whom courage is a defining feature. Hell, we’ll even get up to cheer for Grimsby Town when they draw Chelsea in the FA Cup because everyone loves an underdog, right? But bravery isn’t just reserved for those with a magic wand, superhuman strength, or passable skill in football. Your people have the opportunity to be courageous every day in the workplace. And it’s up to you, as their employer, to show them that it’s possible.

Creating an environment where employees feel safe to push their boundaries and reach for greatness might be tricky, but it’s imperative for the growth and success of your business and their careers.

To do that, you need to get your house in order and develop a work culture of openness, where ideas are encouraged and nobody feels unimportant. Then, you should offer support in the form of regular catch ups, goal setting and rewards for achievement.

When employees are given license to work courageously, their work becomes more creative and innovative and, as a result, so does your company’s.

So, whether it’s introducing a culture through a People Deal, or setting up a system to review progress and reward excellence, we can help you to create a workplace where courage is king and everyone has a license to be brave.

On Sustainability

Looking after the planet has become an essential part of looking after your business.

In a world on the brink of an environmental emergency, practicing sustainability isn’t only a plus for the planet – it’s essential for your reputation as a company. Because just as your customers and clients expect your product to be sustainable, your current and prospective employees expect their work environment to be the same.

From electric cars to beeswax food coverings, people are making concerted efforts to be environmentally friendly in their personal lives. It’s up to you, as an employer, to help make sure that conscientiousness continues in the workplace.

You can do big things to make your business more sustainable, like going paperless, organising a fundraiser or advocating flexible hours.

Or you can do smaller things, like introducing easier recycling systems or replacing paper cups with ceramic ones.

Anything you decide to do, more often than not, will require en masse behaviour change from your team. That’s where we can help.

Whether it’s hosting focus groups to gather employee opinions on your current practices, communicating new ones or coordinating one-off events, we’re well versed in creating and promoting sustainability in the workplace.

So, if sustainability is an issue close to your heart, let’s see how we can work together to create real lasting change for your business.

On Purpose

Without purpose, what’s the point?

Your employees need to feel that what they do matters, otherwise it’s tough to even get them to show up, let alone give their best to their role. That being said, a company’s purpose doesn’t have to be lofty or massive. All it has to be is authentic.

Just like consumers, potential employees are more likely to support socially conscious businesses. It’s part of the purpose economy. And your business needs to be clear about why it exists and what the effect it’s hoping to have is, or you could get left behind.

But simply having a purpose isn’t enough. It’s what you do with it that counts. Recently, in the Harvard Business Review, Robert E Quinn and Anjan Thakor wrote: “If your purpose is authentic, people know because it drives every decision.” What they mean is, an authentic purpose isn’t just words on the wall or on your website. It’s a philosophy that permeates every part of what you do.

We can help you make your purpose a constant message which becomes a Polaris everyone in the company is guided by. And, with a clear purpose nailed down, we’ll help you bring it to the parts of our business where it can really make a difference.

It’s a business problem we’ve helped many of our clients solve, including Lifeways. Have a look at the case study for that project, and others in our portfolio, then drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do for your organisation too.

On Celebration

Celebrating at work is as important as the work itself.

Great efforts deserve great rewards. Actors get Oscars, singers get Grammys. And it’s up to you to decide how your people should be celebrated when they achieve highly. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love an excuse for a party?

But it’s more than that. Reward and recognition programmes are essential for any workplace. Metrics around employee engagement, productivity and general workplace happiness skyrocket in companies with regular recognition. This is because they give your people something to aim for and ensure they’re appreciated when they reach it. Feeling that they’re valued in their role is the fastest way to get your people to feel good about their role and build loyalty with the company. And it encourages career progression by clearly saying: “This is what it means to achieve here.”

How you choose to assess and reward your people depends on your culture and personal preference. Some companies use peer-to-peer recognition schemes, while some see better results from annual rewards programmes – we’ve got experience helping to create both.

If you’d like help working out the best way to recognise and reward your people, check out some of the celebration work in our portfolio and get in touch.

We’d love to hear from you.

On Leadership

Being a leader means accepting you’re the least important person in the room.

Leadership is not about you. In fact, the worst mistake a leader can make is thinking that they’re the most important piece of the puzzle.

Take ex BP CEO Tony Hayward, whose apology for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill included the phrase: “I just want my life back.”

Not exactly inspiring us with your selfless attitude there, Tony.

Leadership is all about trust. You can’t do a thing without it. So, it’s up to you to earn the trust of your people, not just by establishing a safe environment in which they can work, but by showing trust in them too. By earning your people’s trust, you’re allowing them to feel safe with you in charge. And it’s a two-way street. Establishing trust means showing belief in them and their abilities as well.

You might not have all the answers. And no one expects you to. Your role as a leader is to find them out. And nine times out of ten, the people you employ will have them. All you have to do is ask. And, most importantly, listen.

After you’ve talked to your people, the next step is to take action. Your people will take more risks if they see you making a bold move yourself. And they’ll trust you more if they see you doing something about the problem they told you about.

This leadership journey sounds easy when it’s written down, but we’re well aware it isn’t. Luckily, we’ve had a lot of practice helping leaders build trust with their people, improve dialogue, help their managers understand what’s expected of them and train the next generation of leaders.

If that sounds like something you’d like to look into, drop us a line and let’s arrange a time to chat.

On Moments that Matter

If you want your employees to think fondly about their time with your company, you better nail the Moments that Matter.

They start from day one, at the interview stage, and continue throughout an employee’s career with your company, right through to their exit interview.

Even seemingly small moments along the way can have a big effect. Performance chats, rewards and onboarding exercises might seem formulaic to others, but to the person experiencing them, the effectiveness of these moments can make or break their experience with the company.

So, it’s important that each one not only accurately reflects the personality of your organisation, but that it’s clear, simple and effective. Because, when the dust settles on their career with your company, the Moments that Matter will dictate whether their time spent with you was worthwhile or wasted.

We’ve helped many of our clients give these vital touchpoints the gravitas they deserve. And, as a result, their employees now enjoy careers filed with important moments that will stay with them forever.

So, take a moment to get in touch and see how we can help you.

On Performance Management

Performance management is nothing more than having a chat.

Seems simple. And it is.

However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when organising these chats between managers and team members.

Firstly, frequency is key. Performance chats don’t work unless both parties are on the same page with goals, targets and how to achieve them. This requires a holistic view of each team member’s performance, and that will only happen if check-ins are weekly or fortnightly (at a stretch).

Secondly, make people care about their own performance. Give them autonomy over their development by asking them what their own professional goals are. Make sure those goals align with the company’s strategic objectives, then help them achieve them.

As Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall point out in Nine Lies About Work: “Get into the conscious habit of looking for what’s going well for each of your team members.” Negative feedback rarely improves performance. But telling people what they’re doing is great when it’s great inspires them to do even more. It’s to do with neurons, apparently.

We’ve worked with a number of our clients to help them manage performance better at their organisations. And, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt unequivocally through our experience, it’s that the best way to get your employees to work on their own performance is to show them that you’re invested in it too.

Drop us a line if you’d like help showing your employees you care, and let’s talk about performance management solutions that are right for you.

On Audience

Millennials and Baby Boomers aren’t a different species. Stop treating them like it.

A potent mix of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials make up most companies. So, with such a diverse group, we have to ask ourselves: “How do we keep everyone engaged when they have such different working styles?”

Well, most ‘experts’ say that engagement strategies should be aimed at Millennials as they represent the largest group, on average. But we don’t think so. The other generations have different interests and preferences. They also have different motivations and respond well to different management styles.

Personally, we think differences are good. And diversity should be celebrated. Plus, studies have shown that all demographics respond well to clear communication because humans (for the most part) have similar needs.

Wants like relevant content, clear messages (no corporate snake oil) and feeling valued by leaders who care are often associated with Millennials, but we’ve asked around and we’ve noticed that other generations wouldn’t turn these down either.

And if you really want to know what they want? Just ask.

That’s where we can help you. We’re experienced at figuring out what matters most to an employee audience, finding out if your current communications are working and creating new ways to keep your people surprised and engaged.

So, get in touch and perhaps we can do the same for you.

On Storytelling

Adults enjoy story time just as much as kids.

Stories give context and meaning, help us care about a situation and are inherently shareable. It was true back when people shared stories to help explain things like the sun and the seasons and now, you can use them to explain what’s happening in your company. And, just like before, if they’re engaging, people will pass them on.

But, that relies on the story being good. And for that, you need a few key components.

First, a quest. What’s the journey you want your people to go on with you? Paint the picture of your destination and how you’re going to get there together.

Then, a hero. You don’t have to mention every employee by name, but they need to feel that they have a role in the story, otherwise they won’t engage.

And finally, truth. Quite simply, make sure your story is authentic. Reference your vision and values, and use language that people will respond to.

We’ve helped many of our clients create authentic, engaging stories to explain the next stage of their growth by listening to them and their people, building the narrative and helping put it into action.

Maybe we can do the same for you.

On Recruitment

A bad recruitment site is an instant red flag.

The type of warning sign that will rebuff exactly the people you’re trying to attract. And, the truth is, to get the best people, you need to impress them at every stage of the application and interview process just as much as they should be impressing you.

To do that, you have to know who you are. What makes you different or unusual? Why should people want to work for you? Basically, what’s your deal? Once you have that figured out, you can tell them in simple words and show them by applying that personality to every touchpoint in the employee journey, starting with your recruitment site.

A recruitment site is your first chance to make a good impression and, if it goes poorly, it’s as bad as offering a weak, clammy handshake. You don’t want to be clammy, do you? No, of course you don’t.

But, as with every other situation in life, you can’t rest on the laurels of a good first impression. Every other impression is also crucial when it comes to keeping a strong reputation in and outside your company walls.

To keep on track, we suggest creating a fully fleshed out framework based around your values showing employees exactly what they can expect, and what they can expect to give, when working for your company. We call it a People Deal. It’s a very real, two-sided proposal rather than a lofty statement, and is a powerful offering.

We helped Priceline define their culture, then applied it to a new careers site we designed for them. Check it out in our portfolio.