Moneypenny has enjoyed recognition as a Sunday Times Best Company to Work For almost a decade, and Group CEO, Joanna Swash is instrumental in nurturing their unique culture based on mutual respect and trust. Below, she offers three pieces of advice for creating a workplace where people want to work and excel.
Create an amazing environment
Being a good leader isn’t just about creating a safe work environment for your teams, it is about creating a safe environment full stop.
Great people do great things, but they need the right culture and environment to do this. As a leader it is your role to create a safe work environment for your people. This applies practically, physically, and mentally and is about creating a physical place that people want to work in, as it will optimise performance and also links intrinsically with optimising well-being.
Human wellbeing means that your responsibility extends to creating a safe environment for your people to work and live in. Show that you value your people in their completeness, encourage them to take advantage of the wellness and social activities on offer, make sure they switch off in this constantly connected world, celebrate important occasions, foster flexibility, cultivate compassion and recreate those all-important watercooler moments wherever your teams may be based.
Remember, if you work at Ferrari pace, then you should also have Ferrari brakes. By that I mean, know when to stop and when to have some fun. I once co-hosted my team meeting on Zoom with a goat. A little bonkers? Perhaps. But it lightened the mood, made people laugh and was a welcome break.
Without your good mental health, you cannot lead and without your team’s wellbeing they cannot support you.
Listen to your people
There is a lot to be said for true listening, and learning. Not simply hearing what a client or team member is saying, but taking notice and acting on what they are saying. Being successful at this comes down to ensuring that each team member understands everyone’s value and knows how to communicate with others who might have a different mindset. A good tip is to also look into the person who is speaking’s eyes, to make sure that they match the words that they are saying. From paying attention to this you can pick up so much about the person, whether they are nervous, or trying not to say something. It applies to all stakeholders, customers, partners, people, and the marketplace, and it provides clarity, encourages openness, and develops trust.
When people aren’t afraid to have a voice, or to have an idea and share it, a business can be more agile and creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and long-term success. What’s more, when leaders ask for their opinions, look after their wellbeing and communicate openly, it instils the trust of our people, powering them to do what they do best. I breathe. And concentrate on my breathing while people talk! It anchors me and really focuses my attention on listening (as well as stopping me talking!)
Agility will be a key success factor for business in the future, only by empowering, listening and then quickly adapting to your people and the outside world will organisations be able to achieve this.
Treat people like celebrities
Treating your customers as celebrities is not a new concept, they are your life blood. But when it comes to your people, your VIPs, they deserve the same red-carpet treatment.
I cannot emphasise it enough: people are your most valuable asset, your customers, your stakeholders, your team and your trusted partners. It all begins with the people within your business that make it what it is, so they should be considered just as important, if not more important than your customers.
How you would react if you had a team of George Clooneys working with you. Would you behave any differently, as a leader or as a colleague? I am pretty certain that the answer would be yes. So, what would fill the gap between the culture you have and the culture that will leave competitors far behind you?
As humans we are unique, we all have something to offer, and we all want to connect. We are all important people. And business needs to recognize this. Just as we shout about treating customers, not as numbers or paychecks, but as trusted partners, the exact same importance should be paid to our people.
In supporting your people to be the best that they can be, it is important to remember everyone is unique. We all respond differently; we all have different motivators. For some it is to bring home the bacon, for others it is making a difference. Neither is wrong or better than the other, just different. In developing a culture of authenticity, you create a safe environment in which people trust and are trusted, to be who they are and to become the best that they can be. It all begins with your people.
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Joanna Swash is Group CEO of Moneypenny, an organization that offers telephone answering, live chat and digital communications to thousands of business globally. Moneypenny is committed to super-charging its brilliant people and culture with the very best tech. Joanna is passionate about empowering her employees and firmly believes that businesses of all sizes should ‘stick to their knitting’. You can follow Joanna and read more of her thoughts on leadership via her LinkedIn page – https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanna-swash/