You often see big food brands protecting their very special recipes; Coca Cola, KFC all have their secret ingredients that are imperative to their success kept under lock and key. But what is the secret ingredient for service related businesses who’s product is the very service they offer. The obvious ingredient is the excellent customer service provided but I also believe two vital ingredients are the culture and the loyalty of its staff who have to deliver the service.
I’ve been observing our own business and I can honestly say that I have never experienced working for such a dedicated, loyal and hard working bunch of people in all my years. Staff who may have left years ago only to find the grass was not greener, return out of loyalty to the Managing Director. In only a short period of time, I have personally developed a strong sense of loyalty to the owner and this got me pondering. What is her recipe? How does she evoke such loyalty from her team? Here are my thoughts:
1) HONESTY: A leader needs to be direct and honest about areas of weakness. Openly sharing with the team. No one person is the success of a business and being aware of your weaknesses and calling for assistance when needed develops bonds and feelings of worth – you become a part of making a difference.
2) CARING: A leader genuinely cares about their employees. Our Managing Director spends time on the detail to make sure birthdays are remembered, special occasions are celebrated and achievements acknowledged and appreciated. As a working mother herself, she understands the need to be flexible in the workplace and allow people the space to run their work and private lives.
3) DEMANDING: It’s not a one-way street, we are a busy and successful business and this means that the work needs to be completed on time and to a high quality. Our leaders drive change within our evolving marketplace and encourage efficiencies through new technology. We expect everyone to contribute and have their say as part of the change process.
4) HANDS-ON: Being available, rolling up your sleeves and helping get the job done rather than managing from a distance. This really helps to show employees what is expected. Seeing the managing director taking a hands-on interest in the day to day operation cements expectations.
As a Board, we often consider how we can protect our own recipe for maintaining a nurturing and caring culture as the business expands across regional offices. This is an important challenge for us as the organisation grows and as the Managing Director becomes less accessible due to the size of the business.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has undergone a similar growth and whether you were able to maintain the caring culture that was nurtured when the company was smaller and if so, what is your advice?