Are employees really a company’s greatest asset?
Some people are born great, and some have greatness thrust upon them – I think the saying goes something like that.
For many people now leading teams and organisations, including myself, people management and leadership skills are critical, but something that you probably don’t think too much about when starting out. The urgency is more about the ‘what, when and how’ perhaps more than the ‘who or the why’.
But understanding people, what motivates or frustrates them, and managing that into a positive thing is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing most businesses in today’s world.
Some years ago, I was an event manager in a company and I found myself saying out loud, in front of my team and the MD, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset” to which the MD replied “No they are not. Customers are.” I thought “Oh. Well at least we all know where we stand!”
I have never forgotten that day, and it has followed me in my career ever since. Always challenging the concept and shamefully swaying in one direction or another, depending on the highs and lows from each side on any given day.
I think only now, having built my current team from the ground up do I fully agree with the statement, and what it truly means. As business owners, we spend a huge amount of time and money recruiting new customers and nurturing existing ones, but what do we do with our teams? Of course time and financial pressures probably put some limits on what we can do, but having a structure and plan in place that recognises, rewards, develops and retains employees is fundamental part of any successful business.
Creating and maintaining a culture, with core values that everyone is recruited on, challenged on and rewarded on is one of the most powerful elements that are free to implement, but give back so much. At Rocket, we have a set of values that underpin our culture. The values are specific and measurable, they are proudly displayed in our office alongside our Vision Statement but most importantly, they were developed and agreed as a team. They describe who we are. We all buy into it and we all take ownership of it. Our values are shared with potential new recruits and to become a ‘Rocketeer’ you need to not just agree with the values, you need to live them.
As part of our own internal development plan, we recently carried out DISC profiles on all of our team. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s basically a set of questions for which there are no right or wrong answers. It asks things like ‘which of the following statements do you agree with most’ and you have to select one or maybe four options. Nothing seems to make much sense, so a few of our team were quite sceptical at first. The results then create a profile of the person based on how their answers put them against four personality types; Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.
The detailed profiles are incredibly accurate, and when we had the reports fed back to us individually, then to me, and then to the whole team collectively, it really helped to understand why people behave in a certain way under pressure, or why people would get upset in certain situations. The outcome is that we all know how each other works from an emotional perspective, and we can use that knowledge to handle situations better, and build better working relationships internally. It’s light hearted, but very powerful.
A major benefit of the DISC profile is that it has highlighted where we have gaps or imbalance in our current team. We are very heavy on the Dominance and Steadiness side, but lacking a bit on the influencer side. When we are recruiting in the coming months we will ask shortlisted candidates to take the DISC profile and hopefully plug some of those gaps to help balance the team in terms of personalities and emotional strengths.
It’s all very fascinating and something that I am sure many business in today’s age are using as a tool to engage with their teams. After all, as Sir Richard Branson apparently said; “Look after your staff, and your staff will look after your clients.”