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ecosurety – Team Values

TEAM VALUES – BELIEVING IN PASSIONATE PEOPLE

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What your people say about you as a business really counts in terms of market perception.  In fact, they are potentially your greatest advocates, conveying what is great about you and what they see as the kind of people you are – your team values – to thousands of people every day.

Selling dreams

Every business understands the importance of its brand.  The image it presents to the marketplace and the dreams it sells to its target market are fundamental to its success.  Most businesses set aside a significant proportion of their budget to invest in developing and presenting this image, which inevitably changes over time.

One growing business did this, but took some additional steps as well.  Ecosurety is an environmental compliance services provider.  Formerly known as Budget Pack, it spent a large sum of money on corporate branding.  But it didn’t stop there; ecosurety looked within itself as well as externally.

“It’s a hugely exciting change,” says managing director James Potten about the rebranding.  “Becoming ecosurety helps us to tell everyone precisely who we are and all that we can do.  Why have we done this ?  Because since our launch in 2003 we have changed a great deal.  We are a dramatically different business today, with services that build on our roots in waste compliance and take us into other areas too.”

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Chairman Steve Clark adds: “It’s a great fit with our ethos and approach, but we also work in partnership with our members and help them embrace sustainability on their own terms.  It’s essential to our business values.”

The branding consultants that James and Steve used followed best practice and involved the whole workforce in discussions about the precise meaning of these brand values.  Informed by these discussions, three headline values were expressed : Protect, Inspire, Perform.  The specific implications of each of these – for sales, marketing and customer service – was then explored and agreed with the whole team.  Also carefully defined were a number of Truths about the way ecosurety does business.  So far so good as far as the external face of the business is concerned, but the work progressed further.

Team values

“If we are to make promises to our customers, and make them stick in a meaningful way” says James Potten “why would we not do so for our own team values as well ?  That’s why we thought Investors in People would be a natural part of our strategy.”

As well as the usual consultation sessions with senior management, initial diagnostic and report, briefings at management meetings and presentations at team meetings, ecosurety asked me, as its Investors in People specialist, to provide something extra.

From the beginning of our relationship I could see how serious they are about the business benefits of being the best employer they could be.  As one employee explained : “I can genuinely say I look forward to coming into work every day” and there is a deep sense of openness and trust.  There was an enormous amount of excellent management practice but there were gaps :

  • Previously, the team values and business plan had been “created in only a semi-inclusive way”
  • Learning and development was not planned and evaluated against specific business priorities
  • Manager capabilities were not yet effectively analysed and built into the performance management system

The management team, supported by HR Manager Jackie Smith, developed and implemented solutions to address the last two issues. The extra step was then taken to make the values central to the way everyone works together.

As a trained facilitator, I was asked to run a workshop for the whole team.  Using Protect Inspire Perform as the starting point, three mixed discussion groups “satellited” around three discussion points :

  1. In our own words what do we believe is important as a place to work, considering the way we should treat each other and work together ? How can we define our ethos in terms of a shared commitment to the team values ?
  2. What specific commitments should we make to our colleagues and our manager ? What do we have a right to expect from each other ?
  3. How can managers support our team values in the way they manage ? What specific commitments should managers make to the people that work in their teams ?

I then took the flipcharts and turned them into a simple one-page document that became known as Our Belief In Our Team.  James Potten signed this document, it was published and the content of it then integrated within people policy in areas such as :

  • recruitment
  • learning and development
  • performance management
  • management training

It was a fantastic event” says Jackie Smith. “Even if the document listed things we were already doing, the passion with which everyone got involved was amazing.  And since then, nobody has had a problem with pointing out to their colleagues if their behaviour has contravened the published beliefs or team values.”

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Since Our Belief In Our Team was issued, ecosurety has made great strides.  End-of-year results exceeded expectations, customer feedback on the rebranding has been excellent, staff retention is well above average, growth plans are ahead of forecast and Silver-level Investors in People accreditation has been achieved at first assessment.  Speaking of which, some of the award assessor’s comments are worth noting here :

“It is rare to meet such a thoughtful and reflective company”
“against a backdrop of a rapidly expanding company with challenging targets, you have managed to maintain an ethos of mutual respect and support in so many different ways”
“People felt they were actively encouraged to contribute ideas and, most importantly, that these ideas mattered and counted”
“There is a whole organisation ethos despite the re-structure into distinct teams”
“The culture that you have engendered is one of such maturity and trust that feedback both from managers to team members but also upwards is accepted and valued”

The increased employability deal

The business payback on all this goes further. On the one hand, every Investors in People employer knows the deal, and accepts that the learning and development opportunities it provides make each employee more valuable on the job market.  On the other, as the famous joke goes, “imagine if we don’t train them and they stay.”

What has happened in ecosurety’s case is that the workforce believes in and feels part of what ecosurety is aiming to achieve, not just because of the positive effect on the planet but because of how they really do care about whether the business succeeds or fails.

The passion of the team has communicated itself to the customers.  Satisfaction levels are very high and rising.  New business referrals from existing customers are up.  As they say, “there’s no better advert than a passionate employee.”  Without the need for too much in the way of artificial incentives, everyone in the team, customer-facing or not, acts as an evangelist everywhere they go.  As a result, the sky’s the limit as far as growth is concerned.

As James Potten says : “We’ve always been very busy, concerned with meeting and exceeding our customers’ needs and continuously changing and improving at the same time.  It’s been tough, but the time and investment we’ve put into our own people and the team values means we have a really solid and structured basis that underpins everything we do and gives us confidence for the future.”

If you haven’t already held discussions with your people about how your brand values apply within your team, you should consider doing so.  These sessions can involve more than it might appear, so do think about using an independent facilitator.  You can also arrange some brief workshops on basic selling techniques for non-sales staff to equip them for conversations outside work.

Let’s leave the last word to ecosurety employees : “We are the business.”

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Update 23 March 2016 :  Following an intensive programme – which involved my running a series of in-house steering group meetings, managers’ workshops and whole team events – ecosurety achieves Gold !  See here https://www.ecosurety.com/ecohub/news/ecosurety-achieves-gold-standard-for-people-management/

Alliance Homes Group – Mature People Management

Maturity Doesn’t Always Come With Age

Mature people management practice hinges on how you do it, not how long you’ve been doing it. And it starts with values.

When we think about a mature person, we usually imagine someone who has learned from experience over many years. But when we apply the word to people management, it doesn’t always work like that. It’s perfectly possible for long-established businesses to get stuck in an entrenched mindset where development, change and ‘enlightened’ thinking are simply not on the agenda. On the other hand, there are relatively young organisations out there that have embedded a set of values into their development strategy, demonstrating a truly mature approach to people management.

People management

Values for identity, quality and purpose

A west of England community-based social enterprise providing housing management, care and support, maintenance, and green energy solutions, Alliance Homes Group is a great example of this.
In 2006, it had just split away from the Local Authority, where it had been a directorate merged with Adult Social Services. As an organisation now standing on its own, the team at Alliance Homes Group faced a great many challenges, including how to change their culture from one dependent on the public purse to an independent, energetic and enterprising service provider with its own recognisable brand.

One advantage Alliance Homes Group had was the enlightened thinking of the Chief Executive, Clive Bodley, and his senior team. Their primary focus was on customers and service users, so a great deal of work went into developing a set of customer service values, with some high-quality training to support this. Cleverly, they made these values applicable to Alliance Homes Group as an employer as well. Through facilitated staff events, they involved their people in creating and expressing a set of words they could apply internally as well as externally.

With those values and commitments in place, published and owned by everyone, they had a solid foundation from which to develop. And develop they did. Strategic planning, role descriptions, appraisals, training and communications have all been planned and implemented with explicit links being made back to the values.

Surveys and employee voices shaping improvement

One demonstration of how their emotionally intelligent approach is working is how the employee survey has come to be treated by departments like HR, Finance and IT as a customer satisfaction measure. They agree improvements to the service they provide internally in just the same way as the customer-facing teams do in response to the survey results they receive.

Alliance Homes Group were committed to consulting with the whole team on a five-year corporate plan and putting in place their own systems to implement it. They formed a Performance Management Group to oversee the whole process at corporate, team and individual levels. They recognised the need to evaluate as they went along, and invited me to carry out an internal perception-gathering exercise.

An online appraisal system was designed, with ratings against a comprehensive list of competencies. But there were issues. Although there were many performance metrics in place, people weren’t making the best use of the information these provided. So we streamlined the process into a crystal-clear traffic light report approach, published to both customers and staff.

Another issue Alliance Homes Group faced was people not being clear about the role of managers, and having an inconsistent understanding of what was expected of them. To address this, Alliance Homes Group rolled out a modular management development programme with additional coaching elements, which, over time, led to a real change in managers’ behaviour. One of the administration team told me, “I feel inspired – my manager supports me and is willing to share his knowledge and experience to help me progress.”

To accreditation and beyond

In 2010, Alliance Homes Group felt it was ready for Investors in People accreditation, invited the assessor in and achieved Bronze on its first go. But as with many businesses where excellence in people management  is embedded in everything they do, the improvement didn’t stop there. Despite a major restructure, which led to a lot of pressure on Alliance Homes Group’s HR team (three TUPE projects in a single year!), the organisation continued in its commitment to developing its culture and its people.

“We were due to be re-assessed at the end of 2013, so 12 months before that Lance carried out an informal audit for us to benchmark where we were,” explains Amanda Strange, Assistant Director of HR. “Following the audit, Lance identified the areas where we needed to focus our efforts, including evaluation systems, all-staff communications about strategy and values, team meeting agendas and developing a people policy, all of which we worked through.”

The shift from local authority department to independent organisation may have been difficult, but it enabled Alliance Homes Group to decide what sort of business it wanted to be and to create a workplace culture that reflected that. Much of what they do now would have been far less likely in their former guise. They are open and transparent within their team. As one employee explained, “It’s amazing that we’re given all the information about figures – we’ve never had that before”.

They delegate measurement and reporting across their team to create a sense of ownership. They hold regular team meetings, inviting guest speakers from different teams to talk about what they do, to improve cross team understanding. What’s more, they invest in skills for the long term and think innovatively about learning solutions, with options including job shadowing, mentoring and on-the-job coaching. “I prefer learning practically rather than in a ‘chalk and talk’ situation,” explains one team member. “The shadowing opportunities have been great for this.”

These achievements have been made possible because of the all-important values. If there’s an atmosphere of trust, then so much more can happen. People share more, challenge what needs to be improved, and come into work with smiles on their faces. Faith in human nature becomes a virtuous circle. That’s got to be good for customers, right?

Time served vs. maturity

To talk about mature people management is to talk about values and the atmosphere they create. Shaping your values with your team and embedding them in your business is the first step to maturity, because it breeds a workforce that is more engaged, responsive and committed – which in itself can take your business to new heights. And you don’t have to have been around for decades to do it. You just need to mean it, and follow it up with actions that bring those values to life.

Just like Alliance Homes Group did.

About Me – business consultant

Bristol business consultant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I help businesses grow.  Some of my clients refer to me as their business guru. I facilitate team events and deliver strategy and change consulting, business performance coaching, management and personal skills training and Investors In People advice.  I am also a specialist assessor for the Health and Wellbeing Award.

At school and university I specialised in languages; the main thrust of my professional development has been in facilitation and consultancy skills.  I have enjoyed successful spells in general management, training, quality, network development and customer service.

I am a qualified trainer, a licensed Investors In People specialist and national level Business Excellence Award assessor.

Business coaching

My clients range across a wide variety of sectors.  Current clients include a valve maufacturer in Wiltshire, a marine engineer in Weymouth, a charity for people with learning disabilities in Bristol and a building firm in Royal Wootton Bassett.  Many of my client relationships have lasted over ten years.  I have twenty years of experience with Investors in People and continuous improvement, using a large kitbag of tools and techniques to help my clients improve their business results.

Previous roles include managing major improvement programmes at NatWest, setting up the local service provider network at Business Link Somerset, General Manager of Excellence South West for two years of its infancy and adviser to small businesses at Business West.

I have built up an extensive network of contacts for the sharing of learning and expertise.  My main background and passion is facilitation aimed at helping senior managers to gain insight for themselves and their people to achieve better business performance.

Happiness and Motivation – Managing people

This interactive workshop provides an opportunity for delegates to explore the challenges they face when motivating themselves and their team members. They will share these challenges and learn from each other in a safe, energising and fun environment. They will come away with tips and techniques to practice in the workplace, giving them happiness and fulfilment in their role.

Learning Aims

By the end of the workshop, delegates will be able to :

  • motivate themselves and their team effectively
  • build better relationships with other teams across their business
  • demonstrate a range of personal skills in managing people, to get the best out of their team members

For Whom

This session is designed for anyone who is interested in developing or refreshing their understanding of why it is that they themselves, and other people, usually aim to do a good job. It is a good eye-opener for people looking for greater motivation in their own role.  It is also for team leaders who have been managing people for a while and are looking for new ways of thinking to help them motivate others.

Content – Managing People

  • The philosophy and science of happiness
  • What makes us happy ?
  • Levels of happiness
  • Self awareness exercise : Career motivations
  • Understanding motivation – “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” factors
  • Empathy and sympathy
  • Helping people to feel valued
  • The real meaning of empowerment
  • What this means for managing people in practice

Righting Wrongs – complaint handling training

Turning complaints into business opportunities

However talented they are, sometimes customer service professionals find that things can inevitably go wrong.  They need a chance to stop and think through what they can do differently to provide an even better service to customers.  They need techniques for responding to people who express dissatisfaction in a way that helps both parties feel there has been a more than satisfactory resolution.  Starting with some self-awareness work, delegates will work on self control, enabling them to ease the fevered environment on the team and further improve the quality of the service they provide.  This practical complaint handling training aims to provide a supportive group ambience for agreeing and practising helpful skills.

Learning Aims

By the end of the workshop, delegates will be able to :

  • describe what needs to happen to manage personal confidence and impact successfully
  • demonstrate  relevant skills to enable them to deal with difficult situations and reduce stress for themselves and fellow team members while doing so
  • agree consistent standards for dealing with difficult people and situations
  • respond to customer complaints in a professional way that promotes a positive image of the business consistent with its brand

For Whom

This workshop provides complaint handling training for anyone who deals with customers as part of their job and has to cope with a commercial environment in which rising (and sometimes unreasonable) customer expectations are becoming the norm.  It has been created either to act as a standalone for people who find that meeting these customer expectations is becoming more stressful, or to complement any previous or existing customer care training.

Content – complaint handling training

  • Review of past experiences :  what happened, what was the result, how did we feel
  • Self awareness exercise :  boosting our own confidence
  • Managing our emotions and staying in control in stressful situations
  • Difficult situations :  defence mechanisms and barriers to a positive resolution
  • Taking the HEAT
  • Directing the conversation
  • Strategies for responding to difficult individuals and conflict
  • Providing mutual support within the team
  • Managing expectations and making it easier to keep promises
  • Practical exercise based on real scenarios
  • Strategies for responding to unreasonable requests
  • Following up in writing

The Secrets of Successful Teams – Team Skills

This interactive session allows delegates to further explore some key aspects of their role within a team. It provides an opportunity for some deeper reflection on how human beings interact with each other.  This enables delegates to decide on any changes they want to make based on real insight. In a facilitated environment, most of the learning is done by increasing self-awareness and developing empathy for others.

Learning Aims

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to :

  • explain their preferred working style and their understanding of the preferred working style of other people
  • describe the reasons why certain people within a team may get on well or not so well together
  • demonstrate some additional techniques to get the best out of themselves and every team member

For Whom

This session is designed for anyone who wishes to develop or refine the skills needed for either performing well within a team or for managing a high-performing team. It is a refreshing thought-provoker both for people who have been part of a settled team for a while and for those who have recently joined a new team.

Content – Team Skills

    • Pre-session work : Team skills self awareness questionnaire
    • Characteristics of successful and unsuccessful teams
    • Individual working styles
    • How different working styles interact
    • The success trap
    • Tactics for overcoming conflict within teams
    • Harnessing the power of team skills – strength in diversity
    • The power of positive thinking, an inspirational vision and goals
    • The real meaning of assertiveness

Developing Your Team Leadership Skills

This interactive session allows team leaders and line managers to further explore aspects of their role as a leader and role model. It builds on the basics covered in any previous management training to add some deeper reflection on developing people, managing change and improving personal impact. In a facilitated environment, most of the learning is done by sharing real experience in the workplace and learning as much from the group about team leadership as from the trainer.

Learning Aims

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to :

  • explain some techniques to manage and motivate themselves effectively
  • describe the influence which further improving personal impact and communication skills has on projecting a professional image to team members and customers
  • demonstrate a range of team leadership skills to get the best out of every team member

For Whom

This workshop is designed for anyone who is in charge of a team and wishes to develop or refine the team leadership skills needed for the people management side of their role. It is a refreshing thought-provoker for those who have been managing people for a while.

Content – Team Leadership Skills

  • Self-awareness exercise : learning styles
  • Applying knowledge of learning styles to the people you manage
  • Sources of power and authority
  • Inspiring your team through the power of positive thinking
  • Showing trust and respect as steps to successful delegation
  • Personal presentation – your image at work
  • Controlling your voice, body and brain under pressure
  • Understanding the impact of change on individuals and helping them to cope
  • Improving personal impact and effectiveness
  • Developing toughness : staying in control and making decisions in fast-moving situations

Isn’t it just common sense? – the Investors in People Standard

investors in people standard

This fast-paced intensive but fun and practical workshop demonstrates the principles and practice that underpin the Investors in People Standard.  It explains how it can be applied to any business at any time to help drive and deliver success.  The workshop uses the specific issues and challenges brought by participants or their organisations as a basis.  In doing so it aims to provide a clear and useable action plan for each participant whilst simultaneously demonstrating the key principles that underline successful business practice.

Don’t Just Survive, Thrive!

The workshop aims to be inspirational as well as to provide a rare and welcome chance to get some peace and do some straightfoward thinking about how to move your organisation forward.  It does this by adopting a fresh approach to the subject.  Rather than describing the elements of the Standard itself, it uses the principles to generate valuable insights and create practical solutions to real business issues.  There is always a lot of laughter in the group as they share experience and realise they are not alone in seeking common sense answers to business problems.

Learning Aims

To explain the principles that underpin the Investors in People standard and explore how they can be applied to real life situations to help deliver business success.  To come away with a simple action plan to be implemented back in the workplace.

For Whom

This workshop is designed for business owner managers looking to gain a greater understanding of the Investors in People Standard.  Anyone would gain who wishes to learn about the benefits and the process, without necessarily having to commit to the financial and time burdens that formal accreditation imposes.

Content – The Investors in People Standard

  • The Power of Goals
  • The Importance Of Setting SMART objectives
  • Keeping On Track
  • Developing Staff For Measurable Business Payback
  • Creating A Happy Team
  • Action Planning For Business Improvement

My ethos – business coaching

business coaching

 

My ethos is Straight Forward Thinking.  I set clear standards and measure my own performance to back up exactly what this means.

Business Coaching

In all the business coaching and training I give, I promote the idea that what really sets great leaders apart is their capacity for humility and empathy.  I try and practise what I preach.

Straight

I do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  I am open and transparent, I keep you informed about everything that is going on, I speak plain English (if you catch me talking management gobbledygook you have my permission to have at me with a big stick) and I am mindful of your operational realities.

Forward

I support you in looking to the future with optimism.  I will get you to focus on defining clearly what it is that you want your business to achieve, and help set up simple systems with which to measure whether you are or not.  I will look at all the management information available and interpret it so you make the most of it for forward planning

Thinking

I will challenge you and I will inspire you.  With a fresh angle on how you give your people what they need to do their jobs well, you will think in new ways about your role, learn and decide for yourself what needs to change.  A meeting with me is a chance for you to stop the day-job, to take a deep breath and to reflect.  I help you gain powerful insights into how the way you do things compares to best practice.  As a result, you will take the wider view and enjoy the journey.