Why people should be at the forefront of any business
Bernadette Bennett, Legal Commercial Manager at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny offers a guest blog, picking up the `people’ themes raised by the company’s co-founder Rachel Clacher at the LawNet Annual Conference.
Those of you who listened to Rachel speaking will have heard her talk of her passion for `being human’ and why she believes a business leader’s relationship with their wider team is more important than it ever was.
Business dynamics come in many forms, created by the over-arching culture within it. Whose camp are you in? The Sir Alan Sugar high-control `my way or the highway’ style of leadership or Sir Richard Branson’s three `Ls’ of listening, learning and laughter? It’s often said that people leave managers, not companies so the ability to bring out the best in each employee while creating a happy environment is not to be taken lightly.
When Rachel and her brother Ed set up Moneypenny back in 2000 they sought to create a business they would want to buy from if they were a client and a workplace they would want to work in if they were an employee; treating everyone they encountered as they would want to be treated themselves. They indeed recognised early on that unleashing the potential of people would inspire success. It’s a simple equation - happy and engaged staff makes for happy clients which in turn becomes a virtuous cycle of positivity and the key business driver.
Putting yourself in the shoes of your clients is key to understanding and exceeding their expectations. The image of a boss out there at the front leading the company with everyone else following is not only out-dated, but potentially harmful to effective business development. That pyramid model works at its best when completely turned on its head – with frontline staff; from receptionists to lawyers and fee earners, determining the success of the practice by the way they interact with clients.
Research has shown that `genuine concern’, not a big salary, is top of the list when it comes to what employees are looking for from their employer. Great communication must be at the hub of day to day business but it’s easily overlooked when people are busy. It’s a case of making time. Clarity of information combined with empowered freedom nurtures engaged staff. Clarity without freedom breeds robots, while no clarity but plenty of freedom brings anarchy, so it’s worth the investment!
The `one thing’ approach can work well in moving your business forward in the right direction. Ask staff for an example of one thing that will improve your service then another that will make them happier at work. Likewise is there one thing you do that you shouldn’t, and one that you could be doing to give you an edge? Talking to people and listening can work far better than hours tied to the boardroom table thrashing out strategies.
People are your business. As a leader be human, be genuine, and be consistent. Look after each member of your team and success will follow.