Exhibition News June 2018 - Page 51

COLUMN: PEOPLE MANAGEMENT The work family Sam Rowe, CEO of exhibition, event and experience specialists Ignition, talks about the importance of respecting the basics I gnition has been included this year in the UK’s Best Workplaces Awards for the fi rst time, reaching number 19 in the Small Companies category. This represents a landmark moment for our 11-year-old company and a payback for our belief, from the earliest days, that we could and would create a company that behaves as well to its own team as it does to clients. The simple fact is that the amount of time we spend at work, including the ever- lengthening tendrils of the digital world, means that if it isn’t enjoyable, it really isn’t worth it. We give up a lot of family time to be at work and, while work can never have the same meaning as home, we can all learn from successful familial structures and their ability to nurture people. The length of time our team stays with us, with nearly half currently with us for six years or more, is one of the things I cherish most. Whilst there’s always room for improvement, a lot of our growth and success has been predicated on what you’d expect from a good family structure: a relaxed atmosphere; lots of support, praise and recognition; plenty of communication and a sense of sociability and fun. It’s a no-brainer that a happy company is more productive and a better experience for clients too. It’s a virtuous circle: if the company is making progress, you’re harnessing a lot of positive energy in terms of putting shoulders to the wheel. Lessons learned We’ve always worked on very simple HR precepts: caring about people and being as transparent as possible. Of course, we’ve learnt lots along the way, including how to deal with issues - i.e. as quickly as we can and always offl ine! We’ve learnt to let people vent if they need to. Creative people certainly need that sometimes. Another major lesson has been stopping micro- managing and learning to be fl exible and trusting, whether people are in the offi ce, out in the wider world or working from home. If the results are timely and good, the why and the where are ultimately less important than the what. Of course, your people have to be good enough to earn that trust. The more time and effort you put into recruiting the bigger the pay-off; a really thorough process, including written exercises, and the involvement of different tiers of employees on the panel, can increase the chances of a perfect fi t for the role and work culture. “Lack of recognition is a huge potential demotivator. As a boss, you have to learn to follow the enthusiasm” Have a mission – and mean it! Ignition’s mission is ‘to leave a positive legacy to staff, clients and the environment’. We work in the pharmaceuticals, aerospace and defence industries for companies such as Eli Lilly, Roche, Pilatus and Etihad Airways, and we’re also building our portfolio in the higher education, B2B and FMCG markets. We’re known for extremely high standards of client care and transparency and ethics, especially in social and environmental responsibility. We have three major accreditations – the ISO 14001 for Environmental Management; the ISO 9001 for Quality Management and the ISO 20121 for Sustainable Event Management. We’re big on ethics in our external offer and this has to be seen to be something we hold dear internally. HR initiatives include a ‘Positive Working Policy’, covering everything from fl exible working and work-from- home days to a fl oating day for special personal occasions; ‘input days’ for continuing education and a paid day each year to engage with a charity of the team member’s choice. Special employee effort is recognised in a multitude of ways, from spot awards for going above and beyond to a monthly hero award and an annual 10 per cent bonus scheme on completion of milestones. Other programmes include team-building events; a positivity wall that celebrates work achievements and random acts of kindness; Christmas parties and wellness boot camps, as well as a fortnightly ‘Rumble’, where the whole company gets together, including a video-conferencing link, depending on which offi ce is hosting, for company news and presentations, as we also have an offi ce in Indianapolis. Ensuring strong bonds with both teams and with all those constantly travelling the globe means we really have to talk and walk in the same way to overcome distance. Seeing beyond the immediate Another major lesson learnt is always to see beyond people’s immediate role. We don’t just do appraisals based on the here and now and always ask people what they want, even outside the current role. Then we can make an effort to use their additional skills and introduce them to new scenarios, including secondment to our US offi ce, which is a great thing for a small company to be able to offer. You have to let people know you recognise their potential and individual skill-mix. Lack of recognition is a huge potential demotivator and, as a boss, you have to learn to follow the enthusiasm, as well as the talent. We’re also more than happy to train people in anything they feel they need assistance in and even encourage external training days in courses of personal interest, even if not necessarily connected to immediate work. In our latest Employee Opinion Survey, 97 per cent of the team agreed with the statement ‘I feel motivated in my present job’. That means there’s three per cent still to work on! exhibitionnews.co.uk | June 2018 51