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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/

Business and team planning

Business and Team Planning

This workshop gives delegates a welcome chance to sit down in an invigorating and comfortable environment and think about where they want their organisation and team to go, and how. With a little input on the principles and techniques behind effective business and team planning, the main focus is on the production of a real working document for them to use as the basis of their activities in the coming year.

Learning Aims

By the end of this six-hour session, delegates will have :
· a set of agreed objectives for their own organisation
· a plan for each team / business area
· improved understanding of each others’ challenges and issues
· the ability to plan and review performance in the future

For Whom

This session is for senior managers and department heads who find it difficult to set aside time in the workplace to get together with their peers and work through the annual business and team planning process.

Content

o The importance of SMARTER goals
o The balanced scorecard
o Current initiatives and sources of management information
o A prioritisation framework
o What are the top priorities for the organisation?
o Success measures to support the strategic objectives
o Sanity checking on capacity and interdependencies
o Ownership of business objectives
o Review methods, milestones and accountabilities
o Methods of communicating the plan to the workforce
o Activity planning
o Practical : Draft implementation plan for own area of accountability, present it to the group and get feedback

It’s Time for a Proper Chat – Appraisal Skills

It’s Time for a Proper Chat – Appraisal Skills

Whatever name your organisation gives to appraisals – time outs, performance reviews, one-to-ones, job chats – the time may have come when they need to become more meaningful and more effective.  Managers need to think differently about how they are done.  This thought-provoking session turns the traditional view on its head and suggests that, for everyone but new recruits, the most effective method is to encourage people to assess their own performance and to set their own goals.  That way, there is more accountability and less paperwork for the manager.

Learning Aims

By the end of this six hours of appraisal skills training, delegates will be able to :

  • deliver appraisals effectively and confidently
  • demonstrate the skills to enable them to give and receive constructive feedback
  • agree clear goals
  • manage underperformance in a positive way

For Whom

This one-day workshop is for people whose role includes managing and appraising other people.  It acts as a useful refresher to complement any previous or existing training in managing performance, and acts as a standalone for people who have had little formal management training.  It is particularly useful for those who spend most of their time doing the technical side of their job and are expected to complete performance reviews for their team.

Content

The material is adapted to each organisation’s process and culture.  As well as some appraisal skills teaching, delegates will learn by increasing self awareness, discussion, practising scenarios and active fun.

  • The relevance of a good appraisal process – why they are a good thing
  • Situational leadership self awareness exercise – flexibility in leadership style
  • The outcomes of a good appraisal
  • Listening, questioning
  • Giving and receiving constructive feedback
  • Setting goals
  • Creating the right environment
  • Levels of happiness; motivation and empowerment
  • Managing underperformance
  • Your organisation’s process and paperwork

It’s not our job to sell, is it ? – Selling skills for operatives

“It’s not our job to sell, is it ?”

In a small or medium-sized business, the pressure is on to win new work.  The Director in charge of sales and his/her team do what they can to bring in enough at least to keep everyone busy.  The difficult job of identifying opportunities to explain how great the product or service is can be so much easier if the whole workforce is involved as well.  This session covers the basic skills people need to make optimum business use of the sense of pride in doing good work for a good company.

Learning Aims

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

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the demands on everyone in a small business
  • Take responsibility for their own contribution to developing the business
  • Explain some tools and techniques which will prove helpful to them in taking advantage of new leads in the future
  • Take forward some ideas the group has had for generating more new business leads

For Whom

This half-day workshop is for people who have not had any selling skills training but deal with customers as part of their day-to-day job.  These may be site operatives, customer service officers or anyone who answers the phone.  It acts as a useful eye-opener in how to spot opportunities to promote the company and encourage anyone the delegates come in contact with to do business there.

Content – Selling Skills

  • The importance of everybody getting personally involved in promoting our services
  • What are we expected to sell ?  Who to ?
  • Identifying opportunities
  • A good answer to the question “What do you do ?”
  • What information we need to get from potential customers
  • The techniques for “closing the deal”
  • Features and benefits

Care Matters (Wilts) – Business Improvement

Business improvement - Care Matters

Care Matters (Wiltshire) Ltd is a medium-sized domiciliary care agency which has been operating out of Warminster for over ten years. The manager, Julie King, had heard about Investors in People as an effective business improvement framework, and was interested in finding out more. Always an employer who has been genuinely committed to her team, and already a successful business, she wanted to :

• better support compliance with Care Quality Commission standards
• bring more organisation and structure to systems for managing performance
• confirm her commitment to her team by gaining external recognition

Implementing Business Improvement

We started by arranging confidential one-to-one chats between me and each of her people – a face-to-face staff survey, in effect. This was a bit of a leap of faith on Julie’s part; it takes an enlightened attitude to be prepared to open up to criticism – however constructive – the business one has built up.

The output was a report reflecting perceptions of Care Matters as an employer, both good and no so good points. Julie and I then met regularly to consider consolidating those strengths in management practice and identifying solutions to areas which could be improved. We agreed simple ways to :

• communicate to the team what the business is aiming to achieve
• plan and evaluate learning and development
• redesign the Quality of Care survey of service users
• involve the team in discussions about team working and moral values
• deliver short in-house workshops on management skills for Julie and her team leaders

When we had worked together over a twelve-month cycle to put all that in place, we invited the award assessor in. Her feedback was glowing, especially around effective management, involved people, mutual support and respect, and commitment to high standards. Care Matters gained Investors in People accreditation “with flying colours”.

The agency has continued to grow, profits have risen, there is stronger resilience as it is better able to overcome market volatility, and business improvement has become a way of life. At the next CQC inspection, particular mention was made of the strong leadership and performance management practice in evidence. On top of that, they are a lovely group of people to work with.

 

Palm Equipment – management training

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Palm Equipment International – management training

A Clevedon-based manufacturer and supplier of kayaks and related gear with 45 people, which responded to a mailing about the Coaching For High Growth scheme.  I visited the senior management team to find a business that was building a great reputation worldwide and making money, but wasting resources through firefighting its way through lots of problems.  It had become successful through its technical excellence but the training it had done had not been in the essential skills for working with other people nor in management and leadership.

I started by having one-to-one chats with a representative sample of people and identifying the main issues.  I set these out in a report which the senior management team and I debated and which they then used as guide to help them prioritise their business planning.  The funding scheme mentioned above meant they got all this at no charge.

The next stage was to agree some objectives for a series of four half-day in-house management training workshops – necessary because of shift patterns – and design the training to meet them and to suit the audience.  The sessions were aimed at boosting self-awareness of different styles of leadership and team roles, and gave hints and tips on motivation, coaching, assertiveness and delegation.

Two groups of ten senior staff, including the directors, participated.  They made public commitments on what they were going to do differently back in the workplace and accounted to the group for this at the next session.  The feedback acknowledged the workshops as “very thought-provoking”, “a great contribution to our successful business” and “made a big difference to the smooth running of the place”, and I have been asked back to do some more work on skills development.

Rise Technical – Investors in People Gold

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Rise Technical Recruitment – Investors in People Gold

Of the thousands of Investors in People organisations in the UK, about three percent are Gold; almost all of these have been working with the Standard for many years.

The fast-growing specialist recruitment firm already had a high-profile in the Bristol business community.  The founding directors, Jeff Leng and Ben McCarthy, had featured in the local media for their ambitious and skilled entrepreneurship.  When I was invited in, it was already a successful business, a great place to work, with phenomenal levels of professional ethics, customer service and team motivation.

When we discussed Investors in People, the original intention had been to gain accreditation against the basic Standard, firstly to gain the “badge” as a marketing tool, and secondly to support the ambitious plans for continued expansion.  When I spoke to the people that worked there, it soon became obvious that there was a great deal more in place than the core Standard seeks evidence for.  There was therefore every reason to suppose that the firm could match up to the rigour of Investors in People Gold.  We decided to go for it.

Not everything was perfect:  The team were rather vague on what the top-level business objectives were, more could be done to promote the learning culture Jeff and Ben were seeking to create, and team managers’ skills needed further development.

We worked together to design a series of management skills workshops based around the contents of their operational manual.  I delivered these in bite-sized sessions with lots of practical tools to help make the models in the manual come alive.  We did some serious thinking about how strategy was communicated and the link between training and business targets strengthened, and I gave them tools to help.  I would go to see Jeff and Ben every 3 or 4 weeks, and at every meeting they had always completed the actions agreed at the previous meeting.

When the award assessor came in to Rise, he had no hesitation in awarding Investors in People Gold at the first time of asking, only 9 months after our initial meeting.  The score out of 10 achieved for being a great place to work was between 9 and 10.

The sense of pride in the team has risen even higher than it was.  As their adviser, I too am proud of what they have achieved.  Major credit goes to Jeff and Ben for their positive, responsive and enlightened attitude.  They are quick and effective in implementing improvements, crystal clear on the business benefits of Investors in People, and are well set to be the fastest-growing independently-owned firm in their sector.

Case Studies – successful business

successful business

Working to sustain successful business

I am at the service of any business or organisation that wants to grow and improve, sees the need for expert outside help and is prepared to invest in that help.

I have acted as business counsellor to the full spectrum of organisations.  From small businesses in distress to large national charities seeking to consolidate, I have a record of achievement to ensure your business success.

Looking back while writing these case studies, something struck me.  It was how many medium-sized firms there are which aren’t exactly struggling, they just want to stop firefighting, add some structure and thinking time, and prove to themselves and to the outside world what a successful business they are.

These are very short stories which I hope you will find as inspiring to read as I did to be a part of.

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.

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.  I am a member of the Institute of Consulting.

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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