TALENT TACTICS Entrepreneurial approaches to a 21st century workforce
About The Supper Club The Supper Club is an exclusive membership community of inspirational founders and CEOs of high growth businesses. Since 2003, we have enabled thousands of scaling entrepreneurs to realise their ambitions. The average growth of our members is 34% year on year with an average turnover of £1m to £500m. We enable founders and CEOs to accelerate scale through curated peer group learning, expert-led training, timely connections, and entrepreneur driven content. We support members through all stages of the entrepreneur lifecycle, from scale to sale and beyond. The Supper Club is highly valued for the quality and diversity of its membership, event experiences and pro-active personal support. We bring the right members together at the right time to support each other in their journeys by sharing the hard-learned lessons along the way. We help members find the knowledge and connections they need to make better decisions and spend their time more wisely.
Applying a wealth of insight from over 2,800 peer learning events, we curate roundtables, chair panels, and design workshops around practical, entrepreneurial thinking.
‘We help entrepreneurs accelerate scale through curated peer learning, content, and connections’
Members share our ethos of Give and Get to support each other with open and honest advice in a relaxed, informal, and trusted environment. We work with a range of partners on thought leadership content and events with real world tactics and expert advice to inspire founders and CEOs from our membership and the wider scaleup community. Our members share their insight, hindsight, and foresight in guides and reports alongside technical advice from partner experts. We also curate and co-host speaker events with partners on a range of topics related to scale. To find out more about membership visit www.thesupperclub.com or call the Membership Team on 020 3697 0810. To partner on a campaign or programme with The Supper Club, call Alex Evans, Programme Director, on 07747 187569 or email a.evans@ thesupperclub.com.
44% Developing Skills, Leaders, and Succession
Top Three Talent Concerns For HR:
Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision* What Are Your 79% Priorities? 80% Great Flexible *Manpower 2016 people working
32% Finding The Right Talent and Retaining Them 34% Connecting to Company Goals
Silk Road Talent Report 2017
Rise Of The Scale-ups (The Scale Up Institute, IDBR) 2013 2014 2015 By Employee Growth 12,495 14,190 12,180 By Turnover Growth 20,195 19,610 25,530 Total Scale-Ups 26,985 27,490 31,440
How long will you spend in a role? 67% 25% Less than Less than two years 12 months *Manpower 2016
41% Onboarding UK Productivity Relative to Other G7 Countries
Source: ONS (2017) International Comparisons of Labour Productivity.
46% Performance US (124)
GDP per hour worked, 2016, index: UK=100
Foreword From the many roundtables I have chaired with members of The Supper Club, it’s clear that everyone has an opinion on millennials; but are they really so different to previous generations? Depending on your generational perspective they are ambitious, social, globallyminded, tech-savvy, and entrepreneurial; or entitled flight risks with unrealistic expectations and a short-term mentality. Various surveys and commentators claim that millennial workers are forcing employers to adapt their workspaces and employment terms; but employers are taking advantage of new technology and working models to reduce employment costs.
Alex Evans, Programme Director, The Supper Club
Members of The Supper Club are adapting quickly by necessity: adopting an entrepreneurial mindset to manage rapid scale. They are learning from peers, sharing tools and tactics to optimise talent management. We have collated insights from over 2,800 peer learning events since 2003 to produce a series of guides for entrepreneurs. This guide aims to change the rhetoric on millennials by showing what founder-led businesses can do to release their potential. It presents insight and hindsight from Gen X and Y members of The Supper Club who have learned to recruit, retain, and develop millennial leaders as they have scaled. They are running ‘people’ businesses where talent is the product and the service. Understanding the generational differences is the first step in motivating and managing millennials. This workforce has grown up in a more technologically advanced, socially connected, and fast-paced world than their predecessors. But they also face unprecedented challenges. Millennials are the most educated generation in history, but graduating with enormous student debt. Impatient to justify the investment in their education, they try to fast track by job-hopping or look for roles where they can progress quickly. MANAGING RAPID GROWTH The so-called ‘Entitled Generation’ have contributed to a start-up boom (a record 658,000+ new launches in 2016, according to the Centre for Entrepreneurs). Half of all new members joining The Supper Club are millennial founders facing similar challenges to other employers but with an accelerated pace of growth (the average growth of our membership is 34%).
“Members of The Supper Club are adapting quickly by necessity: adopting an entrepreneurial mindset to manage rapid scale and transformational change.”
UK productivity ranks fifth in the G7 despite automation and efficiency-enabling tech solutions. According to recent talent trend data, productivity, talent scarcity, and leadership development are the top three employer concerns. This coincides with a decline in employee engagement and the rise of freelance and flexible working: 15% of the UK workforce is now self-employed (Office for National Statistics 2017), 38% of millennials are freelance, and 64% work from home or another location (Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017). Technology is making it easier to find new jobs and work where and when people want to, but is it really millennials leading this change? Employers have adopted new technology, freelance and remote worker models to reduce employment costs; but have they created a new leadership and succession challenge in the process? If employees behave more like freelance consultants, who is going to lead our businesses in the future? It’s no coincidence that members investing in better office space are achieving higher levels of engagement and productivity as well as more effective leadership. Randstad’s 2016 Talent Intelligence Outlook Survey found that half of employers believe millennials can lead their digital ambitions to stay ahead of the market; but they are less confident in their readiness to become leaders. A survey of 4,400 millennials and Gen Z workers in 10 countries by Randstad and Future Workplace found that only 27% rated themselves as good managers. But employers who expect Gen Z and Y employees to leave in two to three years aren’t investing in the training that would make them more effective managers and develop them as leaders. The purpose of this guide is to reframe the debate on millennials by showing what can be achieved by taking time to listen to what (de)motivates them and how they want to work. This guide is supported by our partners Samsung and Vonage who help entrepreneurs to scale their businesses with technology enabling remote and flexible working (find out how on pages 27 and 32). The Supper Club is at the forefront of a growing scale-up community, and Talent Tactics presents insights from high growth members for all stages of the employee journey. We have produced this guide for all founder-led businesses, but it presents tactics that can help any leader to recruit, retain and develop talent. It brings to life our ongoing campaign to inspire all scaling entrepreneurs.
Contents & Contributors 06: Recruitment & Retention: 07: The New Rules of Engagement 08: Member Insight: Recruiting to Employer Brand 09: Recruitment Strategy 11: Interview Process 12: Member Insight: Relationship Recruitment 14: Induction & Onboarding 15: Perks & Incentives 16: Member Insight: Culture, Clarity & Communication 17: Member Insight: Developing Future Leaders 18: Productivity & Development: 19: Performance Culture 20: Know Your Team 21: Creative Workspace 22: Member Insight: ROI On Workspace 23: Measuring Motivation 24: Mobile Workforce 25: Partner Insight: Vonage - Stepping Up Start-Up Potential 26: Member Insight: The Remote Worker Model 28: Social Learning 29: Founder Insight: The Employee Journey 30: Partner Insight: Samsung - The Open Economy 32: Management & Leadership: 33: Future Leaders 34: Investing in talent 35: Coaching 36: Succession planning 37: Entrepreneurial Leadership 38: Member Insight: Developing Millennial Leaders 40: Member Insight: Millennials Mentoring Millennials 41: Conclusion 42: Ten Talent Tactics 44: About our supporting partners Disclaimer: This publication has been prepared for the exclusive use and benefit of the members of The Supper Club and other contacts of The Supper Club and is for information purposes only. Unless we provide express prior written consent, no part of this report should be reproduced, distributed, or communicated to any third party. You must not rely on the information in this publication as an alternative to advice from an appropriately qualified professional. In no event shall The Supper Club or any of those contributing to this publication be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence, or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the contents of this publication.
Coffee & TV
Founder & CEO
Chairman, The Supper Club
Kiely & Co
Founder & CEO
Enterprise Sales Director
Samsung Electronics UK
The Social Element
Glen Dimplex & NED, Your Life
Recruitment & Retention
The New Rules of Engagement In a post-LinkedIn world, it’s about employer brand, employee ambassadors, and hiring and firing on culture and values In the war for talent, everyone is looking for an edge. Channels like LinkedIn have levelled the playing field by giving every business a virtual shopfront to over 500 million global professionals. Size no longer matters to a generation looking for profit with purpose, rapid progress, and personal impact.
of UK professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities LinkedIn’s 2016 Talent Trends Report, based on 700 UK professionals & 281 who changed jobs between Feb – Mar 2016
Scaling businesses with a compelling mission and an impressive growth story are well positioned to attract the best talent; but many are making the same mistakes as the bigger employers. They’re not taking the time to understand what motivates people; giving them the autonomy to make decisions and develop themselves; or giving them the tools and training to step up as leaders. MAP A CAREER PATH A lack of career advancement is the number one reason people leave a company, according to LinkedIn’s 2016 Talent Trends Report. Based on a survey of 700 UK professionals, it found that those looking for a new employer want to know about the company culture and values (72%), office locations (63%), and employee perspectives (56%) closely followed by mission and vision (54%). UK professionals are more likely to research a company than their global counterparts, so your website needs to present all of these elements.
“With recent studies suggesting that six out of 10 people entering the world of work by 2025 will go into professions that do not yet exist, the ability of companies to be able to recognise, recruit and retain the talent and skills that will be needed in the future, could be the defining challenge of industry in the coming decades.”
Members have used a variety of ways to differentiate their employer brand but the most successful have one thing in common: authenticity. Culture and values must be meaningful. You need to hire and fire on culture and values. If innovation is a value, does your culture really encourage employees to experiment and do you have a process in place to test ideas? Values will have more impact on your website if they’re brought to life by brand ambassadors in your team, who can demonstrate the behaviours and initiatives they applied to help them succeed.
John Marshall, CEO of Adecco Group UK & Ireland
More employers are engaging employees with initiatives that satisfy a need for social impact, whether it’s paid time off for people to work on community projects, or asking their team to choose a charity to support with fundraising activity. Purpose is an aspect of employer brand that millennials look for, whether it’s the founder story or a unifying mission to change or improve something bigger than the business.
AN AUTHENTIC EMPLOYER BRAND Benchmarks like Best Companies to Work For, Great Place to Work, Glassdoor and Stonewall are a quality mark used by many of our members to differentiate their businesses. They can all enhance employer brand by proving a commitment to diversity and wellbeing. The benchmark process also helps you to understand what you should be investing in and how it can impact productivity or engagement.
Profit with purpose may or may not be a motivator for millennials, but they are more conscious of financial performance when considering a new employer. Whether they plan to stay for two years or ten years, millennials look for clarity of role and expectations in context of the vision for growth. If it’s a small business, they want confidence in its financial stability.
brand to attract the right people. We help them re-position their employer brand for the kind of talent they need. Why is employer brand so important to millennials? This generation is more informed about more career choices, so employers need to differentiate themselves. Social media and globalisation has expanded knowledge of career options and opportunities. Millennials tend to look for purpose, which is easier for a start-up that has a fresher vision. Purpose doesn’t have to be social, but it must be something that millennials can buy into and feel part of. They want to have an impact and own part of that purpose. That’s why many are attracted to founders who build a business to solve a problem or fundamentally change something. It appeals to a mission mentality.
Recruiting to Employer Brand: Ari Ratnakumar, Founder, Wiser Ari and his two co-founders left roles at big corporates to launch Wiser in July 2014, which has grown to £3.5million in sales. Wiser specialises in developing employer brands for a range of clients including Just Eat, Sky Betting & Gaming and WorldPay and helps them recruit millennials most aligned with their culture and values. What lessons from corporate life have you applied to your business? I, like my co-founders, worked in big corporates which were very hierarchical with little innovation. We felt restricted and uninspired. We wanted to create an environment where age and background doesn’t matter, where you hire on attitude, and there is a culture of fulfilling ambition and potential. We founded Wiser to inspire talent and help employers struggling to hire the right graduates and millennials. They were blaming the recruitment process but hadn’t invested in their employer
The biggest challenge related to employer brand is inauthenticity, with businesses positioning themselves as something they’re not. If you claim to be innovative and creative, people will leave when they realise you’re not. Some corporates position themselves around job security and benefits but millennials are leaving to join start-ups for more personal accountability and impact – even if it means a lower salary and more hours in some cases. How do founder-led businesses get it wrong with millennials? Millennials want to know where the business is going, how it’s going to get there, and their role in it. Founders don’t always communicate their vision, or update the wider business about the progress they’re making. As businesses scale, it’s harder to manage culture and regular communication is vital. As soon as people disconnect it’s the beginning of the end. Millennials need to be constantly reminded about why they are here and where they are heading. In start-ups, founders expect people to learn on the job and don’t invest enough in training. Millennials want to learn and improve, personally and professionally. We hired a Head of People (not a Head of HR, because it’s about people not resources) to build a structure for L&D, mentoring and training. This has had a great impact on our business and shows that we understand how important it is to people. How are you developing the next generation of leaders? We all want to be responsible for something and grow the business. We have created a culture of ambition, an environment to realise potential, and a career path for everyone so our retention is high. We have built the next generation of leaders with training, one to ones, and giving them responsibility. A lot of today’s rapidly scaling businesses have been founded by millennials. It requires a more entrepreneurial attitude. Being creative, challenging the norm, and solving problems in different ways. Older generations have been more fearful of failure, which is still more stigmatised in the UK than the US. Millennial founders have to fail fast because their businesses grow so quickly.
Recruitment Strategy Jobs board: Always having jobs posted on your site helps you to build a bank of CVs while also giving an impression of constant growth
Many of our members have managed the challenge of recruiting during rapid scale, so have learned a lot in a short space of time. The greatest success has come from a regular review of what the business needs, a focus on the role rather than the person, and asking people to re-write their job description annually (or every six months for rapidly growing businesses where roles are constantly evolving). This also helps to identify gaps that can be planned for with roles posted on your site earlier. Most entrepreneurs prefer to recruit from within because they like to reward loyalty and people are already bought into their vision and values. Members, particularly millennial founders, use regular one to ones with everyone in the team to identify potential candidates for upcoming roles. They also provide an opportunity to find out what motivates them and who they see as leaders within the team. Members agree that the recruitment process must be challenging enough to attract the right calibre of candidate but clear enough to highlight any cultural mismatch. Begin the process by adding values and vision to the job description and embed them in the interview and induction process, making it clear how their role contributes to the overall mission and vision. Then build your values and key behaviours into interview questions to ensure you are more likely to recruit candidates with the right cultural fit. Founder-led businesses, particularly those transitioning to a new phase of growth, are highly conscious of their culture and try to sustain the energy and closeness from the start-up phase. However, many make the mistake of using old job descriptions instead of recruiting around new strategic objectives; so make sure specs are up to date.
Assessment day: To shortlist from a large number of applicants, hold an assessment day to see how they all interact with each other to see who is the best cultural fit for your company
Many founders also make the mistake of recruiting people in their own image. Common advice from members is to get the team involved in the interview process and to focus on the role, not the person. To address this, most of our members use some form of psychometric testing in their recruitment process. Tools like Kolbe and TetraMap assess the way people like to work, which is useful for checking the candidate against the requirements of the role and how they will fit into your team. Tools like Gallup Strengthsfinder assess active talents to determine where they can add most value and any areas they need to develop.
Interview Process The interview process is always a two-way street, and millennials will use a range of sources to reference a potential employer. They will look at the Twitter feed to see how social the team are or Glassdoor for how people rate the company and its leadership, for example. Some members post videos about the company and culture on their LinkedIn page to appeal to new recruits. The right approach to interviewing can help you determine the cultural fit, value and potential of a candidate and minimize the risk of a toxic hire. The CV has given you their experience and skills, but your questions should help to determine their potential impact and leadership capability. Some members use S.O.A.R (Situation, Objective, Actions, Results) when interviewing candidates. When giving examples, most people will focus on the situation and the result, so ask why they did it that way and what actions they took personally. If they say ‘I’ they probably led it whereas ‘we’ suggests they were just part of the team that did it. Other members have used the ‘Friends Test’ to evaluate their ability to form and sustain longlasting relationships. Ask what they like most about their friends, how they met them, and how long they’ve known them. An all-rounder will have lifelong, school and work friends and if you ask what those friends would say about the candidate they are less likely to exaggerate or lie. To determine their ambition and the impact they have had in previous roles, ask them about challenges they have overcome, and failures they’ve learned from. What motivates and demotivates them? Where do they see themselves in five years, and what do they want to achieve by then? These questions will help you understand their level of experience, emotional intelligence, and leadership potential; especially if the challenges all related to management. You can also try to incorporate their career and life goals into their development plans to help them progress.
Try before you buy: Some members encourage a trial day for new candidates; if they are prepared to book a day off work to spend a day with a prospective employer, it shows their commitment but also allows both parties to assess how good the match will be Creative recruitment: Member Adam Greenwood of Greenwood Campbell won Best Recruitment Video at the In-House Recruitment Awards with this https://www. youtube.com/ atch?v=7FVguqPWbRs
TALENT TOPICS Talent Checklist: Top Ten Interview Questions Members of The Supper Club have contributed to a comprehensive checklist of interview questions in our Insights Hub. Ten that you may not have considered are listed below: 1. Personal legacy: What would be written on your gravestone? 2. Lifestyle aspirations: What would you do if you won the lottery? 3. Relaxation: What is your perfect holiday? 4. Maturity: What were you like at school and how has that changed? 5. Management: Who was your best and worst teacher/boss, and why? 6. Logical thinking: How many windows are in London (and how do they get to their number)? 7. Decisiveness: How do you make important decisions?
Trial interview: If you’re recruiting graduates, you could offer to pay for a week-long working interview to assess attitude and ability while they decide if it’s what they want to do and where
8. Presentation: Have you done any public or group speaking? 9. Stress tolerance: What is the most high-pressure situation you have ever dealt with? 10. Leadership: How have you brought different people together to achieve a shared goal?
There are several talent challenges facing the tech sector. The first is finding people with the right skills because technology is evolving at such a pace. Brexit will limit the UKâ€™s pool of tech talent, but tech skills is a challenge for every other nation as well. Education hasnâ€™t evolved enough to keep up with employer demand. Visas will help to increase the flow of tech talent to the UK, but these will take time; rapidly scaling businesses donâ€™t have time, and they need to recruit a lot of people for each new phase of growth. Smaller firms are also competing with the tech giants for talent, who can pay more. This is why culture is such a high priority and focus for tech entrepreneurs. Google and Facebook are now tech corporates so scale-ups can position themselves as the new challengers and underdogs. Founders are creating a culture of autonomy which drives impact. The most successful, like Unruly, have a tribe mentality combining commercial purpose with social impact which instils pride. One of the advantages of rapid scale is the ability to experiment and fail fast. Companies are less hierarchical; people progress on merit rather than seniority. People are taking more control of their own learning and development. For technical training, people look for on-demand, digital, tutorial based micro-learning. Classroom learning tends to be for the softer skills around people management. Business owners are investing in this because they want to develop leaders. People are more prepared to invest in their own development and everyone seems to read the same business books. Founders like to read about inspirational people and learn new tactics.
Tech Talent Tactics
Parveen Dhanda, Programme Head, Future Fifty / Tech City
Relationship Recruitment: Cain Ullah, Founder, Red Badger Founded in 2010, Red Badger is an independent digital consultancy that brings together strategic services, customer experience and technical delivery to digitally transform. With a client list including Tesco, Fortnum & Mason and the Financial Times, Red Badger’s exceptional business growth (CAGR 83%) is attributed to its own vibrant culture. How has your recruitment strategy changed since you founded the business? Our recruitment philosophy is all about relationships. We try not to use recruitment agencies at all. About 2 years ago we really invested in internal recruitment and a strategy around community. We run events, meetups, and we’ve run a big conference. It’s part brand awareness and thought leadership so people want to work for us. We recruit around 50 people a year. Currently, we’re going through a consolidation phase to develop the leadership to support recent growth, but that’s our target. What has been your biggest talent related challenge, and how did you overcome it? It takes a lot of upfront effort to find good developers. They’re in short supply and you have to headhunt them. The sustainability of the industry in general isn’t fantastic. You’ve got Facebook up the road offering
“Leadership, rather than management, is key. It’s about empowerment and career development; leading by example; not command and control.”
double what we can afford. We can’t compete on that, but what we can compete on is culture. They sell themselves as a start-up but they’re a big corporation and have big corp culture. On the flipside, you’ve got lots of big VC backed start-ups who collapse within 2 years because they’re paying bloated salaries. A lot of people come out of working for these companies expecting enormous and unrealistic salaries. What has been the best decision you’ve made in how you recruit talent? It’s difficult to position ourselves as different. We have to articulate our difference very clearly, but we’re honest. There are pros to working for Facebook rather than Red Badger, so we have to find people who are not primarily motivated by money but by other aspects of culture. That’s a numbers game. From July 2016 to July 2017 we received thousands of CVs and we had conversations with 490 people. After screening tests, we got down to about 120 tech interviews and we hired 26. We’ve tripled our internal recruitment now, we have 3 people working on getting more into the funnel. We are more active in different communities, minority groups, ladies who code, to get more of a gender mix, cultural mix, and more people from different backgrounds.
By investing in internal recruitment, not agencies, we have people who are bought into the Red Badger culture. They live and breathe it every day, so are an excellent first filter, and we’re getting the right kind of candidates to the tech interview. How are you using culture to retain talent and develop next generation leaders? Retention for us is all about environment. Paying people fairly, but also making sure that we’ve got the appropriate vision, making sure everyone’s aligned, and understands the behaviour. Leadership, rather than management, is also key. It’s about empowerment, career development, and leading by example; not command and control. And then giving people the appropriate training and opportunities to develop in their career. Very strong leadership from the founders is really important, because we drive the culture of the company; but you also need leadership at other levels too. The times we’ve lost people are when we haven’t had enough leadership at those intermediate levels. You can have vision, purpose, principles, but if you don’t have leaders who are walking the walk and talking the talk you’re in trouble.
A Good Induction According to CIPD, 83% of new starters decide within two days whether they want to leave. Having spent substantial sums on recruitment fees, or invested in a lengthy interview process, many employers make the mistake of leaving new recruits to find their own feet, present them with a set of instructions or guidelines, or leave it at asking a colleague to show them where the kitchen and toilets are. Poor inductions often result in confused employees who either take a long time to become productive, or become frustrated and leave. Members who have invested in comprehensive inductions get new people up to speed faster, have happier employees, and have lower attrition rates. While process and culture are important, so is diversity and a new perspective to challenge legacy thinking. To balance this, have a clear process for proposing new ideas so they are well thought through, tested, and based on evidence. A good induction should take at least a week with a new starter’s diary filled with pre-scheduled meetings covering all aspects of the business from key members of the team. This should include an introduction to the company (values, systems, and policies); meetings with each head of department; and a team lunch paid for by the business to help them settle in. It’s good for new recruits to meet the founder as values and vision have more impact (if this isn’t realistic, some founders present their story in a video message). Clarify objectives and targets early to ensure new recruits are focused on what they need to achieve and by when. At the end of the first week they should meet with their line manager and department head to review the first week, then repeat at the end of the second week, at end of the first month, and monthly after that until their probation period is over. Generally, someone not working out becomes apparent by the second monthly meeting, so look for indicators like attitude to work, too many
“Most businesses that hire people on a regular basis tend to have robust recruitment processes but fewer focus equally on the journey post ‘offer’. That can be a huge mistake.” Duncan Cheatle, CEO of Learn Amp & founder of The Supper Club
sick days, and not going the extra mile. Be wary of having to extend probation to beyond six months or to a year. Ask peers for their opinion, and ensure members of the team are setting a good example. Some members always sit new recruits next to the hardest workers in the office to give them the best impression of the business and set the expectation of how they should perform Values will be interpreted differently depending on the individual, so members recommend consistent messaging from the founder and CEO supported by a strong, aligned management team to champion them. Members have found new and creative ways of emphasizing the values of the business through their management teams, from spot bonuses and awards recognizing the behaviours they want to see to blogs and video interviews that the team is encouraged to share on their social channels. TALENT TOOL:
Gamified Learning Founded by Jonny Edser, Wildgoose specialises in company team building activities, social events, and gamified learning for clients including Direct Line Group, Sony, and L’Oreal. It has recently invested in its app to support Learning and Development and Onboarding. “We ran a Presenting & Influencing programme for a sales team at a well-known IT consultancy company with the aim of developing their personal skills in this area,” Jonny observes. “An unexpected benefit that came out of the session was how much the experience brought the team together; it enabled them to get to know each other so much more, personally and professionally. This had as much impact for them as a team as the training.”
Perks & Incentives Many founders make the mistake of investing in a range of perks without asking their employees what would really make them happier at work. Beer fridges and bean bags won’t stop someone leaving if there are still unresolved tech issues and an unhealthy work environment, so don’t under-estimate the hygiene issues. Members agree that ad hoc rewards and spot bonuses work better than cyclical schemes because younger workers want more immediate recognition. A frequently highlighted tip is to ask for everyone’s feedback on what they would like if they could have something for free, for £10, for £50 and ‘money can’t buy’. This will help to personalise spot bonuses and make rewards more meaningful. It will also identify those more motivated by money, which will help when it comes to incentive schemes. The pros and cons of equity and option schemes are frequently debated by members. The main benefit of options over shares is that people (typically in the UK) lose the right to options when they leave whereas you have the complication of buying the shares back if people leave. These schemes are likely to be more appealing to older more senior team members than millennials who favour shorterterm incentives like status, salary and bonus. However, EMI options are usually chosen over bonuses to incentivise key staff because they are more tax efficient. Under EMI, gains are taxed at 10% while the income tax rate of up to 45% is applied to bonuses. Options are widely acknowledged by members as being a better retention tool for key staff than for driving higher performance. The consensus with any incentive schemes is to talk to your team about what motivates them and get a sense of what life-changing means before designing a package. Don’t make assumptions as they may not want an incentive scheme, just the right challenge and prospect for progression.
Early Warning System “You have to be comfortable with the fact that people leave. People don’t stay for 10 years these days. If they choose to spend two or three years of their life with you, that’s amazing.” James Monico,
James Monico is co-founder of Cloudreach, an international cloud computing consultancy that operates across 8 countries with 400 people. After selling a majority stake to Blackstone, James has stayed on as NED and his co-founder has stayed as CEO. “We spent a lot of time mapping roles and encouraging people to apply for different positions in the business. We had a slightly covert initiative which we called the superstars programme. The leadership team would try to identify the top 10% of performers in the business, who we thought had the most potential, and we would take them out for lunch and talk to them. The idea was to identify any problems or concerns they had before they even started to think about leaving. Once someone’s thinking about going and looking for a new job, you’ve lost them. Even if you counter-offer and retain them it’s horrible and you’ll probably lose them anyway in the end. This programme has been really successful.”
Culture, Clarity & Communication:
Susanna Simpson, Founder & CEO, Limelight PR Limelight PR was set up 15 years ago by its founder Susanna Simpson to make businesses and people thought leaders in the press, online and in person, with programmes tailored to the individual or organisation. Over the last five years Susanna has built a senior team and brought in an MD so she could work on the vision and development of the business. How has your talent strategy changed as you have scaled? The talent market and expectations have changed since we launched in 2002, with a culture of ten jobs before you’re thirty. People stayed longer in the early days of the business when we were building because of the momentum and more direct connection with the founder. I have learned that if you want to grow, you have to change your role as founder so that the business runs without you. You need a strong culture to recruit and retain the best talent, and a clarity of purpose, with values that you hire, fire, train, and reward against. We have structured the business around roles and responsibilities rather than people. The team understands that while individuals are valued, the business is bigger than any one person including the founder. As you scale, you realise that the people who got you here might not be those that will get you there. What has been your biggest talent related challenge, and how did you overcome it? We need to maintain a consistent service and relationship with our clients, so we have developed a model to manage someone leaving the team. All of our clients have a team of three people and everyone is on three months’ notice, even the most junior. This means someone new coming in can handover alongside the person leaving to maintain that continuity. What was your most painful lesson as founder? I banned myself from recruiting because I was hiring people that excited me or that I liked but
50% would consider leaving their current role if there was a lack of appreciation* * Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision, Manpower 2016
were wrong for the business. Now, the client teams are involved in the recruitment process with account managers making the call. They are investing in their new colleagues and are closer to what the business really needs. We use Strengthfinder. I’m a big believer in focusing on strengths rather than trying to polish weaknesses. It’s a good tool to understand everyone and it helps to define each role and the person specification for it. We recruit on it to make sure we recruit to the role, not just the person, and put the business need first. What staff incentives are most effective? I had this vision of being the John Lewis Partnership of the PR industry so after three years you get shares in the company, not as part of an EMI scheme but proper equity. They get dividends not just salary and bonus. People get the title of partner and we have two partner meetings a year. It’s a culture of part ownership.
“We have an annual Limelight Day and our Christmas party is designed around ‘Limelights’, an Oscarstyle awards ceremony. It’s great for team spirit.”
We have a large package of benefits which we update with input from the team to keep them fresh. I think this sets us apart in this industry and others. During the recession we changed our policy on holiday because we saw that people valued time. Everyone has 30+ days holiday a year not including bank holidays. It supports work life balance but also rejuvenates creative people who need time to think. We found that people were more likely to leave because of a lack of training or clarity on career progression than money so everyone has a dedicated Personal Development Manager, not a Line Manager, to use language that emphasises career development. Everyone has a written plan that’s reviewed every three months. If there are KPIs people need to hit for progression we won’t wait six months to find out; we’ll check in to make sure they are on track and help them get there.
Developing Future Leaders: Sam Hurst, Founder & CEO, Grazing Sam Hurst founded corporate catering company Grazing in 2007. Beginning life as a café serving best of British local produce it pioneered drop-off catering to offices, opened a production kitchen in 2010, and launched Grazing Events in 2012. In 2016, it added workplace catering for companies offering staff dining and in September 2017 launched its online ordering service to compete with the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats in the B2B market. A member of The Supper Club since 2015, Sam has used advice and connections to develop his talent and growth strategy. What recruitment lessons have you learned? Those who come from a corporate background are used to more support and structure so it’s a shock when they realise they have to create their own processes. It’s hard for some to make that adjustment quickly and they’re like a rabbit in the headlights. That’s why we tend to grow from within. A great example is someone who was in client services who had an interest in cooking and wanted to work in the kitchen once a week. She’s now our Sous Chef and she has what it takes to become a Head Chef one day. It took three years, but she is loyal, knows the business, and what she doesn’t know we can train. What staff incentives are most effective? The hospitality industry isn’t the highest paid, and it’s long hours, so small but frequent rewards tend to work best. We use Perk Box for virtual high fives that the whole team sees but for recognition to be meaningful it has to be individual and for something exceptional. If you reward the whole team all the time it means less. What has been your biggest talent related challenge, and how did you overcome it? Retention is our biggest ongoing challenge because it’s too easy for people to bounce around different but similarly paid jobs in our industry, especially in a big pool like London. We have created a culture that people want to be part
“We have our annual Grazing Awards based on our values of Wow, Fun and People, with prizes given to those who have embodied each and we present them at our summer party.”
of by listening to the team, involving them in decisions, and in the recruitment process. Hospitality is hard work and you need to enjoy working with eachother so we let the team choose the team. Something I’ve struggled with that might have held us back is articulating a vision for the business that the team can buy into beyond hitting our targets. How do you incentivize or develop talent? Sticking with people, committing to their development, and getting them into more senior roles has been the best decision. I recruited an HR director through a member of The Supper Club about one and half years ago and she has set up systems, policies and procedures that have helped us focus on people as much as our customers. This investment showed that we take employee engagement seriously, which those from a corporate background expect and millennials really value. We have a training budget with people encouraged to use it for the own professional development and regular courses range from financial management to leadership training. We also like to tie in jobs and interests and look at opportunities to develop a passion which could support the business, like photography.
11% 26% Gen Z Gen X Motivated by Praise and Reward
41% Gen Y
22% Baby Boomer
Survey: Cascade HR 2017
Productivity & Development
Performance Culture Great productivity starts with getting the right people in the first place, but to maintain high levels of performance you need to keep investing in your talent. Productivity is a major challenge for UK businesses. According to the OECD, UK productivity per hour is 35% below Germany, 30% below that of the US, and the French could produce the average British worker’s output in a week and still take Friday off. While many believe that an investment in technology is the answer, recent studies in Ireland and the US indicate that training and educating staff is more than twice as effective in increasing productivity. While values are generally seen as the foundation of a business, culture constantly adapts and evolves around its people. Some founders exert greater influence over their culture by rewarding the behaviours they want to see in the business. This helps to increase productivity as everyone understands how they need to perform to impress and progress. Here are some ways that members have used culture to improve productivity: •
Culture Guide: Create a coffee book guide to culture, a poster or a simple one or twopage manifesto as part of the induction pack. It should be meaningful, and have wide appeal, but members caution against commandment style or a dictatorial tone
Buddy system: If a member of the team is lacking in productivity buddy them up with a highly motivated individual who is a champion of the company values. This can help to improve productivity but also shows the rest of the team what great looks like
Quarterly review: Ask your team to rank their behaviours against your company values every quarter and to provide examples of where they have delivered against the values. Then work together to set behavioural objectives that will help them progress in their role
The Bradford Factor: This system is used to calculate a score for each employee’s absence in a year: the higher the score, the more disruption to your company. Short, frequent, and unplanned absences are more disruptive than longer absences, so work out a threshold and call them in if it goes over that to discuss the reasons why (bradfordfactorcalculator.com)
Higher (turnover) growth firms are responsible for generating faster productivity growth and ultimately higher levels of productivity The Scale Up Report, 2014
MANAGING CULTURAL DISRUPTORS Katy Howell is founder of Immediate Future, an independent social digital consultancy that works with brands including Sony Music, Thomson Reuters, and IBM. “The marketing world is an emotional business, so cultural disruptors are fairly common. There are two ways of dealing with them: the first is to un-empower that person, letting the people that follow them know very gently that you are aware. Most people will walk away from that. The other thing is to sit down and talk to the individual because some people don’t realise they’re doing it, that they’re being negative. One of our values is ‘positive everything’ and we constantly use that phrase if someone’s being negative.”
Talent Checklist: Dealing With Under-Performers
Know Your Team Understanding your team, who are delivering, who can deliver, and who you should let go is the first step in improving productivity. Many of our members have learned to ‘hire slow, fire fast’ after experiencing the consequences of not dealing with an under-performer. It can affect morale and de-motivate the team so it’s always better to trust your instincts and address it before it becomes toxic. Members with the most engaged, loyal, and productive staff have regular one to ones, clear KPIs, and strict deadlines to keep people accountable. As the business scales, it’s harder for founders and CEOs to have one to ones; but those who do have higher retention rates and a better insight into their team. Members also highlight the importance of Personal Development Plans for millennial workers. Show them what their path looks like over the next 12-18 months and ask them to write down five personal goals and five professional goals. The purpose of this is to help them understand how their career path ties in with their life goals, and how they can achieve both in your business. It’s the job of their manager to ensure they achieve their goals so they need regular reviews of 30-60 minutes to discuss: positives and negatives, achievements and disappointments, challenges and opportunities, review delivery against targets, and set agreed actions for the month or quarter. MONITOR YOUR MANAGERS Make sure your managers know their staff and they are arranging regular catch ups and one-to-ones with their teams. Those letting them slip can de-motivate employees.
RACI: Some members use a RACI matrix for their teams, listing projects and tasks alongside who is Responsible and Accountable, who they should Consult to get it done, and who to Inform when it’s complete. This removes any blurred lines on responsibilities and only those who should be involved are copied in to emails
Members of The Supper Club frequently share their frustrations and recommendations about under-performing staff. Here are ten top tips and observations: 1. Look for red flags with new joiners: In the first few weeks of employment, sickness and tardiness may be signals of poor commitment 2. Induct with inspirational employees: Sit new starters with the most productive people who most demonstrate the values and behaviours you want to encourage 3. Use back to work interviews to reduce absenteeism: Position this as policy to check employee well-being to identify any support needed but get legal HR advice if it’s persistent 4. Act quickly if someone is under performing: By not addressing it you are tolerating it; which will either de-motivate the team or lower the overall standard and reduce productivity 5. Change the frequency of reporting: When managing poor performers, ask them to update weekly instead of monthly or quarterly; this will avoid shock or surprise if they don’t improve and you need to call it out 6. Check if it’s poor management: Does their manager keep cancelling review meetings? Are they being negative about the company and vision? Talk to the individual and other people they manage confidentially to find out 7. Conduct a talent review: The next stage of scale will likely require new roles and skills so map them out to determine if you can redirect talent, train, or need to recruit from outside 8. Arrange 121s to review motivations: Find out if their motivations have changed, if they’re not being challenged enough, if they want to step up into leadership, or even step down into a less challenging role 9. Deal with errors without deterring initiative: Introduce a ‘zero tolerance with a smile’ policy so people don’t hide mistakes and encourage people to acknowledge, learn, and move on 10. Celebrate desired behaviours: Keep reminding people to use processes and procedures, reinforced by managers, and give companywide recognition to people who have improved them
Creative Workspace Many of our members have invested in their workspaces to create environments that their teams want to work in; one even bought and renovated a castle. Inspired by the home from home approach of the new co-working places, and the creative spaces favoured by tech giants like Google to attract and retain talent, members have seen a return on investment in terms of retention and productivity. But it’s not beers and bean bags that have the biggest impact on productivity. According to the Leesman Index, a workspace audit based on over 270,000 employee responses, it’s the complexity of an employee’s activity profile that has the greatest impact on workplace effectiveness. It shows that 70% of those under 25 and 60% between 25-34 have less than ten activities. So career stage and complexity of tasks determines productivity. Faced with productivity issues some members have sent their team to a co-working space to test whether it’s the physical environment affecting their efficiency and if an office move is needed. This also helps to choose environment, location, and facilities. CREATIVE COLLISIONS Some members rent their extra desk space to other businesses to create diversity. This also allows their team to engage with different people and perspectives each day.
“We find that younger people especially want to work in the office. For the younger generation, they want to learn, interact with others, be mentored, and form relationships. All those things are very hard when you’re a remote worker.” Divyang Mistry, Founder & CEO, Leesman
WorkplaceLed Productivity Leesman Index was founded by Supper Club member Divyang Mistry to measure the correlation between physical environment and productivity. It provides data to employers on what is and isn’t working and works with consultants like CBRE to help companies find the right solution. “The world of work has changed a lot in the last 20 years,” Divyang observes. “What works well now is a variety of workspaces within an office, and empowerment of staff to be able to use them. It’s not about putting in gadgets and gimmicks, but enabling people to do their everyday jobs properly. It’s also about training and trusting your staff to use spaces correctly.” The Leesman Index is based on a seven-year assessment of workplace effectiveness, evaluating results from 276,422 employees across 2,160 workplaces in 67 countries. Three key findings include: •
Employees in the highest performing locations will almost certainly be working in an open-plan setting
The more an employee uses multiple work locations within the workplace the more effective they feel
The highest performing projects are employee-centric in design, wrapping an infrastructure around the employee
Derek set up Coffee & TV with three co-founders in May 2015. This Soho-based visual media company specialises in design, CG animation and visual effects for TV, films, and commercials. It has worked on TV shows including Doctor Who and Planet Earth for the BBC. It’s motto is: ‘if you can’t shoot it, we can make it, and if you can shoot it, we can make it better’. What were the reasons for you investing in your workspace? It’s a showcase for us. Our clients are in there all the time, so it needs to be central and attractive. Just as importantly, it attracts quality staff. It’s a creative industry and we are trying to squeeze every drop of creativity out of our talented artists. It reflects our creative ambitions and to give them a cool space that’s stimulating to work in. As it beds in you really see it exponentially increase the quality and volume of work that’s done, because staff are enthusiastic about coming into work and enjoy it. If you look at the top 5 competitors in our industry, you could almost rank their success by the quality of their workspace. What part does workspace play in your employer branding strategy? Our main employer vision is to create the internal experience. We’re not so focused on growing, but rather on creating a community, an ‘experience’. The workspace environment is a big part of that vision. Once that’s done, we also look at the cultural fit of people within it. It’s all part of the jigsaw. How have you used your office to create an employee community? Being largely open plan has hugely increased our collaboration. It’s the 20 second rule: if something takes more than 20 seconds to do, you won’t do it. So in larger companies, if an artist wants to talk to an artist on another floor, they’ll either have to pick up the phone (which they won’t do) or they’ll physically have to go up or down however many floors to get to them. We are deliberately all on one floor and we communicate much more efficiently that way. The client experience is key as well. We want it to indicate our values as exceptional people and workspace. We want people to understand what we stand for. Sometimes, the front area in companies is beautiful and the staff are squeezed into the back. That’s not the case for us; our staff areas are as beautiful as the client areas. From a business point of view, it’s not that expensive to make it that much better either. I worked for a company which had a reputation for being beautiful and high quality that was taken over by people who just didn’t invest. So the offices gradually became drab and poorly decorated. Lack of investment meant lack of talent, which meant lack of sales, and lack of money to re-invest. It created a vicious cycle. Right from the start we set out to do it right. Even when we couldn’t afford much and were in a tiny little room, we made it what we wanted it to be. As we’ve grown, we’ve kept that same ethos.
ROI On Workspace: Derek Moore, Founder, Coffee & TV
Measuring Motivation Monitoring and measuring provide the timeframe, KPIs, and results needed to gauge productivity. Regular one to ones and appraisals provide opportunities to reinforce the objectives and identify development areas that can be addressed with training or coaching. It also provides the data to help you decide if technology is working, needs upgrading, or better training to optimize it. THE POWER OF COMMUNICATION A clear vision, communicated in the right way, can motivate everyone to perform beyond expectation. Poor communication, particularly in times of change like acquiring or being acquired, creates fear and confusion which impacts motivation and productivity. Members who regularly communicate with their teams, individually and companywide, get more engagement and commitment. Some of the tactics used by founders to manage their internal communication include weekly blogs, vlogs or monthly ‘town hall’ speeches but always with consistent messaging to reinforce their company values and celebrate desired behaviours. Job titles are part of the messaging and some members advise designing them around responsibilities that relate to the company goals and mission (which can make it easier to promote people with key skills above those who have been in the business longer). BACK TO THE FLOOR Some founders sit at different desks each day or week to get out on the shop floor; this re-connects them with their teams, people tend to work harder, and they hear more about what’s going on in their business.
“The dream for most is to be part of a high performing team on a mission with a purpose everyone believes in. Both big and small organisations make the command and control mistake of pushing through change without giving their employees a voice and empowering them to embrace it.” Katz Kiely, Founder, Kiely & Co
Talent Tools To Measure Productivity Here is a selection of solutions recommended by members to track and improve productivity… •
Project tools: Project management tools including Jira (www.atlassian.com/ software/jira) and Insightly (www.insightly.com) help you and your team organize time sheets, invoices, holidays, proposals, job planning while providing a framework (ie Work Flow Max)
Timesheets: Tracking software like Toggl (https://toggl.com) and Harvest (www. getharvest.com) measure productivity but keep explaining the importance of timesheets to employees (ie to determine the time cost of clients and projects to charge more accurately)
Motivation surveys: More members are conducting happiness surveys, either monthly or quarterly, using employee engagement software like Officevibe (www.officevibe.com)
Benchmark: Members use benchmarks like Best companies to work for (www.b.co.uk) as a cheap way of measuring satisfaction and using the framework to highlight areas that might improve productivity
Mobile Workforce Online collaboration tools and mobile devices connect people working in different offices, different parts of an office, from home or an explosion of new co-working spaces. This technology saves time and money, but email and social media are constantly cited by members as the biggest distractions in their business that reduce productivity (and increase stress).
38% of millennials are freelance and 64% work from home or another location, up 21% on 2016
Tools like Slack are credited with improving productivity by enabling remote workers to crowdsource quick answers to progress projects. They also use enterprise social hangouts like Yammer and Google Hangout for virtual office banter to maintain culture. However, members running agency and tech firms observe that people have become too reliant on these channels for communication in the office, even using it to welcome new joiners rather than speaking to them face to face. Balance is key.
Deloitte Millennial Survey
While technology is an enabler of flexible and remote working, it’s being driven by a growing freelance and contractor community as well as a boom in home based businesses (2.7 million in the UK, according to research from Vonage). It’s not just start-ups looking for alternatives to expensive offices, with larger employers looking to reduce employment costs with more contractors. Many have introduced hot desking and provide more flexible working options. While people tend to be more productive at home, they can feel isolated and need careful direction to ensure the effort is optimized. Having people in different locations also makes it harder to maintain a cohesive culture. Here are three ways members make remote working work for their businesses: •
Test: To identify those better suited to remote working, use psychometric tests and interviewing to see if they are likely to work well alone and use co-working spaces to trial them
Face time: Members recommend face to face interaction, whether it’s video conferencing on Skype for regular one to ones or a monthly social to address any conflicts or confusion and re-bond the team
Team spirit: Some members have introduced league tables, a monthly/ quarterly magazine, and even company t-shirts to create a sense of community
2017, based on 8,000 millennials in 30 countries
There are almost one million more self-employed workers than in 2007, now accounting for 15% of the workforce Office for National Statistics, Employees and Self-Employed by Industry, 2017
The connected recruitment market will be worth $63bn by 2020, of which $10bn will come from freelance workers Samsung, The Open Economy
Home businesses looking to move could unlock up to £3.3 billion in profits and employ up to 670,000 additional people ONS Labour Force Survey
Stepping Up Start-Up Potential: Simon Burckhardt, Managing Director, Vonage UK Technology has enabled companies to operate from almost anywhere. This has driven a startup boom, with a record high of over 658,000 new companies starting in 2016 according to the Centre for Entrepreneurs. There are 2.7 million home businesses in the UK and 18% want to move into a professional space. That’s 470,000 businesses stepping up. These Step-Up businesses achieve 12% higher profits and 17% more turnover than those who don’t want to move. They expect turnover to increase by a third, profits to climb by a fifth, and to hire one extra person in their first year of moving. In total, home businesses looking to move could unlock up to £3.3 billion in profits and employ up to 670,000 additional people. But 66% cite the high cost of real estate as the biggest obstacle to relocating. These businesses contribute huge amounts to the economy. They want to professionalise and create employment. We’re proud to support over 600,000 Vonage users across the globe with our cloud-based phone technology that enables their growth. We help them punch above their weight but, collectively, they are already a major economic force to be reckoned with. Based on data from the ONS Labour Force Survey, we estimate that home businesses who would like to step up and move out have a collective turnover of £45.6 billion per year and take home
£15.8 billion in profits. On average, they employ three people already. So how do we unlock this huge economic potential? Shared workspaces are playing a part, but we need more of them in the regions. Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses has called on Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to create more shared working spaces for local entrepreneurs. He also called on the Government to increase the Employment Allowance to offset recent increases in employment costs to incentivise small businesses to take on more staff. The high cost of commercial property is the main concern for home business owners in the UK looking to grow and expand out of the home, with 66 per cent citing the prohibitive prices of real estate as the primary barrier to growth. Shared working space offers a flexible, effective route for these businesses to move out of the home. Flexible arrangements such as these, which allow businesses to take more space as they grow, not only offer a new and professional home for new small businesses, they also create opportunities to collaborate and share ideas with other businesses of a similar size. Employers have increasingly embraced flexible and remote working to reduce the costs associated with office space and gain access to a wider pool of talent, both around the country and around the world. This has made it easier for people
to become freelance or contract workers, with the number of self-employed in the UK hitting a record 4.7 million in the first quarter of 2016 according to ONS. As a former small business-owner myself, I appreciate how lonely self-employment can be. Technology enables communication and collaboration, but meaningful human connection is vital. Providers of shared workspaces are doing more to facilitate networking and creative collisions between founders. Entrepreneur networks like The Supper Club help founders to connect and learn from each other. This report presents many great tactics from The Supper Club and its members. From Stephen Philips’ self-managing company approach at ZappiStore to Adam Ludwin’s Futures Board at Captify. My personal favourite is Tamara Littleton, founder of The Social Element, who started her business at home with a remote worker model that has clients in 40 countries and sales over £10m. In her story about how she has scaled with the remote worker model, Tamara shows how technology can help you build and scale a virtual business while maintaining a real culture and community. Tamara and her fellow members in this guide are an inspiration to founders looking at how to step-up and make the most of their investment in talent.
The Remote Worker Model:
Tamara Littleton, Founder, The Social Element
Tamara founded Emoderation in 2002, before the explosion in social media. She started it in her garage with just £10,000 investment from her parents and a credit card, and now turns over £10 million a year. Tamara rebranded the company to The Social Element in January 2017 and delivers social media strategy, content, engagement and insights to some of the world’s biggest brands, including Oreo, Nissan, Toyota and Primark. Four years ago, she also co-founded a new company, Polpeo, which simulates a crisis breaking online to help brands practice their response to safeguard their reputation. Why did you decide to start a business with remote workers? I built the business around a remote worker model out of necessity because, like many starting out, I couldn’t afford an office at the time. But I also wanted to do things differently. I had been using online collaboration tools with my team at the BBC and knew the tools were available to build a business this way. The Social Element now thrives because of how we use these tools like Trello and Google Hangouts. They support both collaboration and culture. It’s also helped me to build a more internationally diverse workforce who are empowered to work when and how they want to. We maintain a family feel with a friendly style of communication. The model has also supported our growth as we can offer global social media campaigns in any part of the world, across multiple time zones and in more than 45 languages. Can you highlight an unintended benefit of the remote worker model? A few years ago, we won a big global project and needed to upscale quickly. This involved bringing on board about 200 people in a six-month period. The model meant we could do this without having to do things like find a bigger office. It also meant we could hire the right people for the roles, no matter where they were. Not being constrained by proximity to a city office widens the talent pool considerably. It also meant that we could bring them on board without too much disruption to the existing team. It’s also enabled us to drive more diversity, something which is vital today. A 2015 study by McKinsey found that gender diverse companies outperformed financially by 15% and racially diverse companies by 35% compared to others. It is not just those who don’t want to live near or in a city, but also parents, carers and those with a disability that we are able to attract with our model. Having people across the world means we’re able to provide a 24/7/365 service to our clients. There is also the benefit of better work life balance because there is no commute for those who find it a challenge. As a result, our attrition rate is lower than industry average. People can create their own physical work environments and, on the whole, work at times to suit them. We work hard to make sure people feel part of the team and not isolated. We also have ‘hub’ offices in London, New York and Los Angeles so people can come into an office environment if they want to, whether they live nearby or are travelling.
How has your remote worker model supported international expansion? As many of our clients are global brands they need a social media agency that can deliver across multiple countries and culture. This doesn’t just mean having a team member that can translate content into another language. With our team located across the world it means they also understand the local culture and can create and adapt campaigns that work specifically in those markets. Knowledge of cultural differences is just as important as knowledge of social media tools. It is this knowledge that has enabled us to grow and deliver to some of the world’s largest brands. Which tools have helped you manage the growth of your business and maintain its culture? We use Basecamp, Google, Mindmeister, Toggl, Trello and Slack and many more. Mostly these are for communication and how we manage our projects, but Mindmeister is particularly good at replicating a brainstorming session online. We also have an incredible smart screen that allows a team to collaborate with each other both in the London office and at their own office where they can see the whiteboard changing on their laptops or tablets. They can also edit the whiteboard from wherever they are working. It’s not dissimilar to the technology used in the Tom Cruise film Minority Report, which as a self-confessed geek makes me very happy. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology innovations into the business in a way that enables the teams to work better. What aspects of technology or the remote working model have created challenges for your business? People working remotely can show signs of isolation, so the team originally started an area on Yammer called ‘view from my office window’ which is great way to connect everyone to each other. It was an initiative driven by team members that meant they were sharing the view from where they were whether it was of the local wildlife, the sea, rolling hills or city shots of London, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney, among others. They also connect on Facebook. We undertook a rebrand a year ago and this is an example of where it would be so much easier to gather everyone in a room in a physical office. We held webinars with the Executive team to discuss all the plans for the rebrand. Similarly, we held regular sessions with the entire company to keep people informed and the comms very transparent. We even had a mass online brainstorm to come up with ideas for the company name. I’m a firm believer in the power of in person meetings too so we do spend budget on bringing people together in person. It helps spark creativity and human connection. I believe the hybrid model of getting people together in person combined with flexible working and the option to work remotely is definitely the future for smart companies and is perfect for attracting millennial talent too.
Training Tactics Here are five tips and observations from members on making training more effective: •
Guidance: Managers should be able to identify training needs from regular one to ones and Personal Development Plans aligned with career goals
Another challenge related to remote and flexible working is Learning & Development (L&D). Some founders invest in off-site training because it’s an opportunity to bring the team together to bond as well as learn. Others prefer to keep the socials social while investing in e-learning solutions, which have evolved enormously in recent years. Video-based micro-learning is more popular with millennials who prefer snackable tactical content that helps them to solve problems as they arise.
Budget: Have a training budget for both personal and professional development but give people the autonomy and flexibility to find the right solution for them
Experts: Some members have developed people into specialists to train and coach others in the team, champion the values and behaviours of the business, and create aspiration for others to step up
When deciding how to train someone to be more productive, members advise trying to gauge their attitude and approach to learning. People are either audio, visual, or kinaesthetic learners, which should help to determine the right kind of L&D activity. Online training has become more social, intuitive, and interactive, designed for millennials who prefer to learn on the job and on the go using different devices. They also want to be able to crowdsource advice. Platforms used by members include Learn Amp (https:// learnamp.com) which curates free and tailored learning content into Learn-lists for their teams.
Bite size learning: Have short, regular training sessions of 30 min to 1 hour each week, delivered by a member of the team or an external expert on a topic they can choose
Shadowing: Spending a day with a colleague or hot desking one day a week can help people learn new skills or approaches (it can also help sales people understand the challenges of delivery or make operations people more commercially minded)
To increase the impact of training and L&D on productivity, members and their managers invest time in mapping out the roles and skills they need against their talent to identify gaps and development areas. These are highlighted in reviews, with people given a budget for personal and professional development (PPD) and the autonomy to choose their preferred solution. Members observe that coaching is more effective than training for millennials, whether it’s from the founder, their manager, or a colleague; but only if they have space to act, make decisions and learn from their mistakes.
Helping People Help Themselves Chris Donnelly is founder of Verb Brands, a luxury digital agency built around a collective of designers, developers and strategists. “Stress is something we are acutely aware of in an agency business where people work with a range of different clients,” says Chris. “We also see the value of learning and development as well as coaching and mentoring. It’s important to give people autonomy over the way they work and progress. We are trialling a new system: each year we give our team a £500 budget to spend on professional development and £500 to spend on anything related to mind, body, and soul. To encourage them to use it we make them accountable for it. So, at their pay review we ask what they spent it on and what impact it had. If they haven’t spent it, we postpone their pay review. This is a good motivator but ultimately we want them to be happier, healthier team members.”
29 Founder Insight:
The Employee Journey: Duncan Cheatle, Founder, LearnAmp Duncan Cheatle founded The Supper Club in 2003 and is now its chairman. He has since founded a new learning and engagement platform called Learn Amp to help employers drive staff engagement and performance as well as improving the management of induction, onboarding, compliance training, and the overall development and capability of talent. I’m a huge fan of continual improvement and the principle of managing against the right KPIs or OKRs; but if you want to see multiple rather than percentage improvements it’s about attracting and keeping the very best people. We have all seen how a top sales person can deliver three times the results of their average peer. The productivity of staff in support and delivery roles can be twice as high amongst the top performers. In combination then, the opportunity cost to a business of failing to attract the very best talent is huge (even if it isn’t that visible). The growth of the gig economy and the emergence of portfolio careers means that job tenure is constantly shrinking. That poses challenges for any business. Anyone with experience of running an early stage company, with lots of Gen Y staff, will know how hard it is to keep them for longer than a year or two. This means that businesses, if not managed effectively, face the second key opportunity cost: having to regularly replace and train up new talent. Since it takes recruits an average of 28 weeks to get up to full productivity, Oxford Economics estimates that is an average cost of £25k. These are real losses to the business, but they’re difficult to calculate and therefore easy to ignore. INVEST IN A LEARNING CULTURE One of the most effective ways to attract and retain the best talent is to commit to developing a first class learning culture. Recent reports and surveys from PwC, Deloitte, Manpower et al indicate that millennials are attracted to, and stay longer with, businesses that can clearly demonstrate opportunities for continual personal and professional development.
How important is training & skills development?*
are prepared to invest their own time and money in lifelong learning
say the possibility of learning new skills is a major factor when considering a new job
intend to take an extended break from work in order to gain new skills and qualifications
* Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision, Manpower 2016
Foresight: E-Learning Trends Learning technology is evolving to accommodate new working trends and preferences. Here are five predictions from elearningindustry.com and related solutions provided by members of The Supper Club: • • • • •
Microlearning online training libraries: Employers need to cater for ‘moment of need’ online training for employees who expect to learn what, when, and how they want through multiple devices (ie Learnamp.com) Personalized online training paths: Employers need to understand learning preferences for their employees to tailor their training Gamification & serious games: Rewards are a powerful motivator for corporate learners and eLearning games enable employees to compete with peers and level up while absorbing key takeaways (ie Wearewildgoose.com & Ovationincentives.com) Social & collaborative learning: Platforms are evolving to include social media groups, online discussions, blogs, and video sharing platforms for collaboration and feedback Real-world activities: To enable employees to apply training when it counts, platforms will include task based simulations and ways to overcome common obstacles to reduce on-the-job stress
The most effective way to manage this is to obsess over the Employee Journey in the same we do the Customer Journey. If you have an amazing recruitment process but fall short on induction and onboarding great talent they will be quick to leave. Gen Y are used to great applications in their personal life and they expect the same in work. As well as ensuring their remuneration package is sound it’s key to provide the very best physical and digital environment they can learn and thrive in.
“According to the CBI, 56% of the country’s employers highlight the skills deficit as the number one challenge they’re facing. Businesses can truly take the lead in closing the gap by showing graduates that they are willing to invest in them.” Martin McCourt, Non-Executive Director, Your Life, and member of The Supper Club Advisory Board
30 Partner Insight:
The Open Economy:
Suzanne Homewood, Enterprise Sales Director, Samsung Electronics UK The gig economy is still in its infancy. Today the so-called connected work market, comprising both digital recruitment and remote working technology components, accounts for a small fraction of the total recruitment market. But by 2020 it will be worth nearly $63 billion globally, according to a 2016 study by PwC, with $10bn of that accounted for by freelancers. Some estimates are even more optimistic; 40% of workers will be self-employed by 2020, according to a recent Intuit report, and many organisations are already rebuilding themselves in readiness. These findings are strongly backed up by existing opinions among young workers. A report by McKinsey found that there is a strong desire for an autonomous working future amongst today’s millennial workforce. According to their research, 60% of independent workers in Europe are highly satisfied with the flexibility that being a freelancer offers, and just 14% would prefer a traditional nine-to-five job. At the same time, more than three-quarters (78%) of employees think being able to determine their own schedule is a positive thing, 71% think positively of being paid in real time for their work and 64% think that doing away with hierarchy would be beneficial. Few of these workers will visit an office every day, according to BinaryKnowledge’s Marcos Eguillor. “In the future, companies will shrink their numbers of salaried staff in a major way, becoming a core executive team who design high level strategy and integrate different elements of that strategy on a day-to-day basis,” he says. That core team will deploy the skills of teams of what he terms radical freelancers, people who trade their talents with many different companies at the same time. Traditional management structures and strategies will need to be jettisoned, too, for a generation of workers who will refuse to work within a hierarchical organisation. “By doing away with all the structure, bureaucracy and rules, we’ll allow these people to unleash their real potential and initiative
“Our expectations in our personal life increasingly drive our preference at work, which puts pressure on business to enable people to use technology in their own way. Just as people expect great office environments they expect their tech to work”. Tess Smillie, VP HR at Samsung UK
for the benefit of our businesses,” says Patty McCord, HR Consultant and former People Manager at Netflix. “So we’ll see less and less obsession with structure and process from HR teams, and more and more education around business economics and how freelancers can contribute effectively to them.” The underlying technology infrastructure, too, will make a big difference to the way that organisations are perceived. It’s already clear that ensuring a business provides ultrafast connectivity for future AI-powered mobile devices will be a key recruitment tool in the years ahead: nearly nine out of ten (89%) employees feel that adoption of the right mobile technology has had a positive impact on their company’s overall performance, according to market analyst CCS Insight. “Brands will need to transit from being the owners of the work dungeons to the providers of business technologies that allow a much bigger and more powerful gig workforce to do their best work,” says Eguillor, of BinaryKnowledge. “Being at the forefront of the transition to this recruitment approach will spell the difference between success and failure for a company in the Open Economy of the decades ahead.” Their next big challenge will be to help rethink the places where people actually do their work. The ways in which those people communicate with each other will change dramatically, integrating everything from conventional mobile devices to new, immersive technologies that recreate physical environments. Workers will be able to transform a wide variety of surfaces – from a table in their kitchen or a wall in their local coffee shop – into interactive screens, activated by gesture, voice, touch, or command from a mobile device. “The workers and businesses of the future will be able to transform any environment into a workspace, using mobile technology to enable them to become consumers of space on demand,” says Marie Puybaraud, head of research at property company JLL. The key to accessing this next generation of interactive user interfaces will be a worker’s mobile device. “Your personal device can realistically take any form,” says Nick Dawson, Global Director Knox Strategy at Samsung. “The smartphone evolved as an ideal form factor: it comes with onboard storage and computing, wireless access to networks, built-in screens for input and output, and it fits in your pocket. We are developing scenarios where your smartphone enables you to work from any screen that’s in front of you, whether it be a monitor, a TV, or a VR headset. Those scenarios even include items less associated with the word device, such as kitchen and home appliances, but with built-in security, identity authentication, and access to data and services as needed.”
Suzanne Homewood, Enterprise Sales Director, Samsung Business UK
Management & Leadership
Future Leaders Founders who understand how to manage, motivate and develop millennial workers are better at helping this generation to step up into leadership positions. Millennial founders now represent half of all new members of The Supper Club. While they are joining to gain insight from peers on how to scale and manage rapid growth, their give back to fellow members is a better understanding of how to develop millennial leaders. Most founders prefer to develop people internally for management and senior leadership positions because they’re already bought into the culture and vision and understand how the business works. It also rewards loyalty while creating aspiration in the wider team. CLEAR CAREER PATH Members who have been most successful in building senior teams all begin by mapping out the goals for the business followed by the roles and skills required. Then they look at whether they have the right people internally, with the right attitude and skills, to fill these roles. Most founder-led businesses have a flat structure, so people will naturally start jockeying for a promotion when the opportunity arises. Whether you bring in managers or directors from outside, or develop from within, constantly remind them of their role and your expectations so they are focused on delivery. Monthly one to ones combined with regular evaluation through reviews will help to identify rising stars and influential leaders in each part of the business. This will highlight key development areas and help you to understand their motivations - which will enable you to design more compelling incentives. Managers are a crucial part of this development process, so make sure they are committed to it and not letting reviews or catch-ups slip as it can be de-motivating. Four out of ten people leave their job because of their manager, according to HR Magazine. BIGGER PICTURE THINKING Encourage your high potential leaders to think more strategically, outside their day to day role, and above their paygrade by giving them some bigger commercial problems to solve; also invite them to present at monthly meetings as they step up into mid-management roles.
Next Generation Leaders ”What employers can learn from Generation Y is how they have upped the pace in the workplace. That’s only going to accelerate with Generation Z coming in.” Jo Geraghty, Founder & CEO, Culture Consultancy and member of The Supper Club
Jo Geraghty is co-founder of Culture Consultancy, which specializes in evolving cultures for innovation, rapid growth and next generation leadership skills, and co-author of Building a Culture of Innovation. Jo was recognised in the 2017 Smith & Williamson Power 100 for her work with entrepreneurial businesses to boost productivity through positive company culture. How can this generation of employers prepare for the next generation of workers? What employers can learn from Generation Y is how they have upped the pace in the workplace. That’s only going to accelerate with Generation Z coming in. The best thing they can do is equip people with the skills and qualities to be able to adapt quickly and the personal resilience to be able to cope with change. It’s still true that human beings can only cope with a certain amount of change but as it gets faster we’re going to have to learn how to manage it. That’s going to be a key responsibility of employers in the future. How could an entrepreneurial mindset help employers adapt to a changing workforce? Entrepreneurs are better able to adapt to a transforming workforce because they have the agility of mind and the growth mindset. They’re very used to scanning the horizon looking for change, and adapting their products and services to meet their client’s needs. One area where that can fall down is where you see a successful entrepreneur who says ‘this was my path and this is how I got here and I don’t want to break the system’. That’s not always the way and they need to embrace their people and ask them what else could be done. How do high growth entrepreneurs create high performing teams? In our work with scaling businesses and the way they create high performing teams we have seen three key things. One is about instilling a strong sense of leadership and equipping their people with the skills to be next generation leaders; to have the resilience and adaptability to be able to harness the talent of others with a growth mindset. The second one is really about creating a strong culture and evolving it as they scale but involving their people in that process; because they gain buy in and greater accountability. The last one is having the right employee blend; as your business grows the mix of employees you need in terms of skills, behaviours, and culture fit needs to evolve.
Investing In Talent Talent strategy and developing middle management may not be your skill set as a founder. Many of our members have recruited an experienced people manager to build a strategy and process. For costeffectiveness, some have opted to do this on an interim or fixed contract basis to create a plan that can be delivered by their existing team. Others have used a Head of Talent or Head of People position as part of their internal PR to show how serious they are about employee engagement and development. Training is another way of showing your commitment to leadership development. Offsite training can be a great way of bonding managers. However, it should be designed around an area of development to support your key objectives. Those building a senior team as part of a succession plan for exit, for example, use it to identify strengths and weaknesses. Then you can design tasks and tests to develop leadership and project management skills. The next step, and often a difficult one for founders, is delegation. Surrendering control over decisions is a process of building confidence and trust but always requires a leap of faith. Giving responsibility and accountability is a big step that will be negated by a fear of failure. Millennial founders tend to have a more authentic ‘fail fast’ philosophy because they give people permission to fail who acknowledge it sooner. Fear of failure at best prevents risktaking or at worst delays decision-making but it also encourages people to hide mistakes until they become crises. This is a crucial area of development for founders as well as managers because it means stepping away so they can step up. If you’re prone to stepping in and over-riding decisions this will likely demotivate managers, particularly millennials who want to make an impact and have true autonomy. One tactic is to write job specs for yourself and your senior managers to clarify areas of responsibility and avoid undermining people by insisting on sign off for something you have already handed over. To communicate this to the whole company, create an organisational chart that’s visible to everyone with a session explaining everyone’s remits. Members communicate confidence by saying things like: “You’ve got this”, when asked for help to encourage people to solve problems themselves.
Driving Diversity James is CEO of Nicoll Curtin, a global technology & change recruitment group founded in 1999. Since becoming CEO in 2014, James has changed the culture of the business and won numerous accolades for engagement which includes making the Top 100 Best Companies to Work For. People often think about diversity as a gender issue, but most of the time it’s a majority/ minority problem. If you have a workplace that is dominated by young white men, for example, and others are a minority, it can be a problem. Anything that stops you from attracting and retaining the best people is a problem. What I found is that if you truly commit to building a better balance it is something that you can fix quickly. We hit our targets years earlier than we expected. We went from less than 10% of management being women to 42% in one year. The first step is realising it’s a problem and committing visibly to change in the business. In part, it’s about removing barriers. We did some career acceleration, but that was across the business. There was quite a lot of management change, and that’s inevitable. If you’re going to get more women into management, then there’s going to be turnover to create the opportunity to do that. We delivered training to flush out negative management attitudes about acceptable and unacceptable banter in the office. We changed the amount of social activity that involved alcohol in the evening, which made it more difficult for people with children to attend. We were constantly on it and we are now more diverse as a company; not just in terms of gender, but ethnicity and social mobility. That has been a really positive unintended effect of focusing on the gender problem as a minority/majority issue.
The SelfManaging Scale-Up Stephen Phillips founded ZappiStore in 2014 with the goal of changing the world of survey research. A major exporter, with the US its biggest market, Zappi has since scaled the business to £18m in sales with over 150 employees. Steve attributes his growth to a new approach to decision-making.
Coaching When there is a gap in your senior management team, find a top performing manager and help them get to a point where junior staff will look up to them as the expert in their area. Great managers don’t always make great leaders and may need coaching to help them step up. Once you have promoted into senior management positions, set aside time each week for a one to one conversation or a more structured training session. Some members recruit their Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) to support the coaching process. A NED can help you define the roles you need and the person specification. They can also meet with them and flag any areas of concern or further development. MANAGING YOUR MANAGERS A common complaint among founders is getting bogged down in management meetings and getting pulled into operational details. You can improve the efficiency of your managers and your management meetings by setting clear expectations around preparation and outcome; chairing effectively; and understanding that everyone has different decision-making preferences. For example, some will rush towards completion while others need reflection time. If you are struggling to chair effectively, bring in your NED or get some coaching. Submit all reports and questions in advance of your management meeting, and making sure everyone reads it in advance, so you can focus on ‘doing’ rather than ‘explaining’.
“When I changed my management style, the results that I started to get from my people made it very clear that developing a senior team internally was the way to go. The critical thing is that you have to create space for people to grow into. As entrepreneurs we can occupy a lot of space without always realising it.” Nick Thistleton, Founder & Chairman, Lucky Voice
Why did you choose the self-managing model? A fellow member of The Supper Club talked about their experiences with autonomy and someone recommended the book Re-inventing organisations, by Frederic Laloux, and from that we adopted the idea of a self-managing organisation. Under this model, the team make decisions based on a clear company vision and the teams create their own roadmaps, KPIs and success factors. Managers are advisers rather than decisionmakers. This removes any blocks which delays delivery. The only sackable offence is not getting the best advice before they make a decision! Essentially this is about trusting people. We also apply it to holiday, travel, and expenses. People plan holiday with the rest of their team, so no-one is left unsupported. We encourage people to think of expenses as if it was their own money they are spending. What impact has this had on your business? We are a tech business and our key measure is development to dollar, from first line of code to making money. On this measure, we have reduced our cycle from 18 months to 3 months. By empowering people to make accelerated, delegated, and informed decisions, we remove the blockers and make money quicker. How has this helped you to develop leaders in your business? We have non-traditional leadership roles because it’s not command and control. We are already giving people accountability for their roadmaps and decisions, and P&L responsibility, so they are behaving like senior managers anyway. However, some people are more interested in being leaders than others and they naturally emerge. And anyone can become a leader if they have the right skills and attitude. In a business of 155 people, two interns who joined us three years ago are now Senior Directors.
Succession Planning The final stage of talent development for a founder is building a senior team to delegate to so they can move into a more strategic role; to work on the business rather than in the business or even to leave the business day to day altogether. Advice from members who have gone through this process is to ensure you plan far in advance and be clear on the skills you need. If you’re preparing for an exit, you will need to plan succession 3 to 5 years in advance. To instil confidence in a potential buyer or investor, your executive team must have the credibility, skills, and day to day responsibility for running the business. You will also need to prove that they have been doing it long enough to demonstrate they will not miss a beat with a transfer of ownership. Members who have developed an MD or CEO from within recommend removing yourself from the business once they have been inducted into the role. This makes it clear to everyone that you’re no longer in charge and you have anointed your successor. They will need buy-in from the management team as well as the rest of the team, so explain why they are best qualified to take it to the next stage of growth. This will address any fears about the future of the business, particularly if you have been a prominent figurehead. Millennials have the ambition, energy, and hunger for knowledge to become great leaders, and many are rapidly scaling businesses as founders and members of The Supper Club. By taking time to understand their motivations; creating the right career path; creating a culture of progression; and developing key skills with coaching, learning, and training; millennials can step up as leaders, so you can step away.
”It is essential that the MD is encouraged to challenge the status quo, that the founder stays out of the way and that the role is clearly defined so that there is no confusion or room for error. By adopting these policies, I was able to transition to CEO and focus more on developing new business.” Susanna Simpson, CEO & Founder, Limelight PR
Director’s Day The Supper Club runs a Director’s Day for senior managers of founder-led firms to help them step out of the business and work on it, instead of in it. The Day is spent workshopping eight tools designed to boost confidence in understanding key performance indicators and driving growth quickly and efficiently. This full day workshop takes participants through the eight key areas any director new to entrepreneurial businesses will need to get to grips with. All attendees are encouraged to share their headaches and challenges, and maximise the opportunity to learn from one another. Alex Malcolm, MD and founder of tailormade luxury holiday and safari company Jacada Travel, has learnt from other founders how to effectively delegate the everyday management of his company to take a more strategic, long term view of its development. “The Supper Club’s Director Days enabled my management team to deal much more independently with the day to day running and processes of the business and it’s fundamentally changed us as a company for the good,” he says. “I can now devote more of my time to issues relating to strategy and growth, and focus on growing the international business.”
Entrepreneurial Leadership A roundtable convened by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and The Supper Club in 2017 brought together entrepreneurs, CMI Companions, and leaders from across all sectors to talk about how to develop more entrepreneurial managers. The discussion was led by Duncan Cheatle CCMI, founder and chairman of The Supper Club, and Ann Francke CCMI, Chief Executive of CMI. Recruiting to purpose and values - and thorough onboarding processes - were identified as a key part of embedding an entrepreneurial mindset, and understanding individual motivations has helped founders to develop entrepreneurial managers. Hugh Robertson, founder of the marketing agency RPM and member of The Supper Club, has adopted a coaching culture to promote accountability and devolved decision-making throughout the organisation. “Not only have we upskilled our managers as coaches we have also trained up a number of ‘Super Coaches’ who now provide an offline coaching resource who support managers to develop their own coaching skills,” he explained. It’s also important for founders and CEOs to develop themselves. Duncan set up The Supper Club to help entrepreneurs be more successful by talking, listening, and learning from peers. This applies equally in the corporate world, according to research from King’s Business School and the University of Amsterdam. “It’s not just for entrepreneurs, but for anyone who wants to be innovative,” says Professor Frederik Anseel of King’s Business School. “The same way that entrepreneurs must engage with their potential customer base as quickly as possible to test their ideas, mature companies must call on the innovative potential of all their employees.” While structure is often more rigid in larger organisations, the most successful entrepreneurs balance process with autonomy to remove barriers to decision-making. Martyn Dawes, who founded Coffee Nation (eventually sold to Whitbread for £59.5m), now advises entrepreneurs and high-growth companies.
High Performing Senior Teams Celia Francis is CEO of Rated People, the UK’s largest marketplace for homeowners to find tradespeople, transacting £2billion of jobs for home maintenance every year with 50,000 tradespeople. When you’re looking to scale you need a senior leadership team who are strong across all functions so that you can fully delegate to and trust to recruit great people throughout the business. Once you have these great people in place, whether they have been developed from within or brought in from outside, you need to bring them together as a team. It can be difficult to bring new people together quickly, so they need to get know each other. We have experimented with ways to bring senior leaders together with trust and friendship. You need to start with a shared vision, mission, strategy and tactics so everyone buys into the same plan; so that as you execute there is a feeling of common vision and leadership. From a culture perspective, it’s important to really know each other. Early on when I joined Rated People I encouraged people to share something about their childhoods, backgrounds, or nicknames – personal details so each team member is seen as, and valued as, an individual; known for themselves rather than their job function.
He recalled a period advising a large telecoms business that had set up a wholly owned subsidiary with a maverick CEO who was given free rein - despite a heavily regulated marketplace. The project was a big success, Martyn explained, because of the decentralised decision-making. A final observation on developing more entrepreneurial managers was to keep it simple. Both large and small businesses can overcomplicate, but a narrower focus enables people to take ownership around core objectives. Duncan concluded by observing that: “Large companies may conduct complex benchmarking analyses, led by expensive consultants, to assess risk but in an entrepreneurial company the boss will just ask: what would you do if you wanted to destroy this business?”
Developing Millennial Leaders:
Adam Ludwin, Co-founder, Captify
Adam Ludwin set up Captify with co-founder and CEO Dominic Joseph in 2011. It has grown rapidly since raising £10m, with a global team of 190+ and offices in NYC, London, Paris, Hamburg and Kiev serving 450+ of the world’s biggest advertisers. Adam has led various initiatives to develop millennial talent and leadership including Captify’s Futures Board a nominated team of eight global Captifiers who have been formed to shape and influence how the business is run. How has culture helped you to attract, retain, and develop talent at Captify? From the very beginning at Captify we had a clear vision on the role of culture on in our business. We wanted to surround ourselves with the best in the industry and those who wanted to grow the business with us, not for us. ‘Intrapreneurship’ is by far our biggest motivator.
”Strip away usual barriers and hurdles like age, job titles or even length of time at the business and suddenly you create a hotbed for innovation and fastgrowth.”
This is why the original team we launched with in 2011 are still with us today; retention rates that are unheard of in the industry. Whilst we have initiatives that are critical in helping to maintain our current culture, we’ve organically created an environment where we foster innovation, inclusiveness, and ownership. Everyone has a voice, and the trust and freedom to make decisions; so our culture grows from the bottom up as opposed to the top down. Our team also help us grow the team; they want to work with ‘A players’ so they help us find more people just like them. How have you developed millennial leaders as you have grown? There has been so much noise in the industry lately about millennials and their sense of entitlement. It’s unfair and a sweeping generalisation, which just doesn’t stack up. Strip away usual barriers and hurdles like age, job titles or even length of time at the business and suddenly you create a hotbed for innovation and fast-growth. We’re open and approachable so they come to us with ideas like the Work Anywhere In The World initiative, which lets them understand the complexity of market nuances and to ease collaboration across the company (particularly as we continue to scale across the US and EU). Meanwhile, our Futures
Board initiative offers a platform for them to voice how they want to steer the business to the investors and the board of directors. It’s a rare opportunity, regardless of years of experience or job title. They are huge influencers in how we innovate, go to market and work with our clients. Where did the idea of the Futures Board come from and how does it work? We encourage juniors and interns to challenge and improve things. Our message is, ‘if you think someone should do something about this, remember that you’re someone’. We started with forums in each department and they began taking responsibility for improvements. We wanted to bring this authentically challenging voice to senior teams and the Futures Board was born. It brings together a spokesperson from every country and department with the co-founders and two of our investors. It’s an opportunity to pitch new ideas about how we can improve how we run the business or deliver to clients, and it gives our investors a true picture of where we are going, how we will get there, and who will get us there. It’s complete transparency and gives the teams they represent ownership over challenges and solutions. What impact has the Futures Board had on your business? A range of initiatives have come out of the Futures Board, from our CSR programme and
industry events to new HR policies and priorities for the senior team. The biggest impact on HR is more visibility over career path and a better understanding of what it takes to progress. It helped us to define the values of a Captifier and the performance criteria people need to demonstrate to achieve each tier of leadership – like relentless ambition and fail fast. Day to day impact comes from better communication, both internally and with clients. Less time is wasted on poor communication and people have a better understanding of how to prioritise higher revenue work. We are seeing higher client retention and faster lead times. How have initiatives like the Futures Board helped you to develop leaders at Captify? Two people from the Futures Board have progressed into senior roles. It is chaired by one of our first employees who stepped up and showed it’s a role she has a great aptitude for. To win your seat on the Futures Board you have to demonstrate our values, bring big ideas, be a champion for your department, and have the respect of your team to be nominated by them. They set the agenda for the Futures Board, not the founders. They need to gather key information to present and defend their ideas. Leaders naturally emerge from this process and step up.
Millennials Mentoring Millennials: Hugh Robertson, CEO, RPM In 1993, Hugh Robertson started RPM with a loan of £5,000, followed by four further startups through RPM Ventures in 2012 and beyond. His independent events agency, with brand engagement at its core, has now grown into an award-winning business, employing 140 people and delivering multi-channel global campaigns for clients including Diageo, M&S, Mondelez, Heineken and BSkyB. What is your experience of motivating and managing millennial talent? We employ a significant number of millennials, and they have hugely different aspirations and expectations. Their points of reference have changed, and we must adapt to support them. They value their employers purpose and broader role in society, possess a desire to be fully engaged in the business, whilst not necessarily committing beyond their period of fixed contract. This presents a significant challenge for us; like Sarah, for example, who is a brilliant and diligent member of the team, who leaves every 6/9 months to go travelling, before returning to earn more money to do exactly the same. We have adapted our business to accommodate her, but longer term I am concerned for her progression and limited broader management experience. Why did you decide to switch from appraisals to coaching? We believed the annual appraisal process didn’t add enough value; we felt it was holding our business back. It encouraged a tick box mentality, ratings were tricky, and we felt we needed something more dynamic that fitted with a reactive client-led business. So, we moved to a culture of coaching and away from the traditional review and appraisal process. Everyone is trained in coaching skills, as progression is not always about upwards progression but more about their breadth
of skills. We are interested in creating general athletes. To that end, we want individuals to have greater ownership of their career growth. Whilst we have a responsibility to nurture their talent, there will be less reliance only on us and a much more defined sense of co-ownership and the motivation that comes with it. How does coaching work in practice? In practical terms, RPM does not measure people by how many hours they work or how much time they spend in the office. We value employee freedom, enabled by various clear and supportive processes. We tailor our approach to individual teams and depts. Coaching, or great conversations as we like to call them, are happening all the time. It’s a continual process centred around agreed quarterly objectives, with 1:1 conversations every four weeks. Through coaching we can empower individuals and then hold them to account for their actions and choices. Importantly, the feedback mechanism decouples performance from development so it is much more palatable; and individuals are more receptive to the opportunities for improvement. We work very hard to make people feel safe in the feedback process. We aim to help each other be great and access their full potential. What impact have you seen from coaching? It is a massive undertaking, but early signs are very exciting. Through a combination of better matching of personnel to our individual clients, coupled with entrepreneurial initiative, we are achieving a higher retention of clients (we have not lost a single client) and the growth of some of our clients’ business has been in excess of 100% in billings of existing and new services. The old truism, people buy people, is true in this case. People are buying people, and are buying more from our people.
Conclusion While the aim of this guide is to provide tactics for recruiting, retaining, and developing millennial talent, there is one final insight that every founder scaling their business should be aware of: attrition is a good thing. One of the most common observations amongst members of The Supper Club is that the people who get you to the first stage of growth may not be the people to get you to the next. One of our members who scaled a business to over 3,000 employees before selling it and launching a very ambitious new venture talks about this in terms of Day Zero, Day One, and Day Two. At Day Zero, you have proof of concept and you’re building and developing your team. At Day One, you have a fully developed team and product / service which is growing but still needs direction from the founder. At Day Two, you have a senior team in place and it’s scaling without needing the founder who goes back to Day Zero to launch something new. The journey to Day Two is getting shorter for members of The Supper Club as those with the best talent strategies share their tactics with their peers. This guide presents just a few of these talent tactics, but there is a wealth of insight within the Club from peer learning events with thousands of entrepreneurs. Thank you to Samsung and Vonage for not only supporting this guide but enabling more cost-efficient ways of working. MILLENNIAL MISCONCEPTIONS So what conclusions can you draw from this tactical guide, and has it challenged some of the myths and misconceptions about millennials? It’s easy to generalise about a generation in broad terms, but all people are different and they have different motivations. Some want to be leaders, some don’t, and some will be better leaders than others. Just like some founders want to be good employers, some don’t, and some will be better than others. In terms of misconceptions, not all millennials want to be freelancers or work remotely. As Leesman’s Divyang Mistry says, it’s older
“We need millennials with a fresh and unbiased perspective, who haven’t been influenced by past industry experiences, to grow our businesses. The opportunity with younger talent is directing their energy, maturity, and intelligence to solve new problems.” Joel Perlman, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, OakNorth Bank
generations who want flexible and remote working to balance careers with child or parental care while millennials want more social and stimulating office spaces. Uncertainty over the economic impact of Brexit has made millennials more desirable of stability and security, so founder-led businesses need to engage them with a vision for growth, a clear career path, and workspace that supports the way they want to work. Millennials have seen the impact of technology on all aspects of life, personal and professional, and how quickly it can change and improve the way we work. They can adapt quickly but, like any employee, they need to be part of the decision-making process. Social media has given millennials a global perspective and a challenger mentality. They are less fearful of questioning the norm than previous generations and want their opinions to matter to their employers. The popularity of Slack and how it’s used proves that millennials like to learn and share what they have learned with colleagues. A wealth of survey data highlights not only a desire for lifelong learning but it’s a key motivation for joining a company or staying at one. Employers need to invest in learning & development but be mindful of how millennials like to consume this content – on the job, on the go, snackable and shareable. Millennials are purpose and mission led, with the energy and intelligence to achieve clear goals. They want to have an impact and make their mark. Millennials are more entrepreneurial, so want ownership of their part of the mission and autonomy to deliver their way. Members who trust and empower their staff, like Stephen Philips at Zappistore and Hugh Robertson at RPM, are increasing profitability, productivity, and client retention. This is the generation helping to build unicorns and support rapid scale. They have the energy and intelligence for Day Zero and Day One; and the potential to become senior leaders for Day Two. What tactics will you use to get there?
Ten Talent Tactics Presenting a selection of member insights from our guide for each stage of the employee lifecycle
1. PURPOSE: Ari Ratnakumar, Founder, Wiser “Purpose doesn’t have to be social, but it must be something that millennials can buy into and feel part of. They want to have an impact and own part of that purpose. That’s why many are attracted to founders who build a business to solve a problem or fundamentally change something. It appeals to a mission mentality. Founders don’t always communicate their vision, or update the wider business about the progress they’re making. Millennials need to be constantly reminded about why they are here and where they are heading.”
2. CULTURE: Katy Howell, Founder, Immediate Future “The cultural disruptor is problematic for all businesses. There are two ways of dealing with this: the first is to un-empower that person, letting the people that follow them know very gently that we are aware. Most people will walk away from that. The other thing is to sit down and talk to the individual because some people don’t realise they’re doing it, that they’re being negative. One of our values is ‘positive everything’ and we constantly use that phrase if someone’s being negative.” 3. PROSPECT: Susanna Simpson, Founder & CEO, Limelight PR “I had this vision of being the John Lewis Partnership of the PR industry so after three years you get shares in the company, not as part of an EMI scheme but proper equity. They get dividends not just salary and bonus. People get the title of partner and we have two partner meetings a year. It creates a culture of part ownership. Everyone has a dedicated Personal Development Manager, not a Line Manager, to use language that emphasises career development.” 4. TRAINING: Chris Donnelly, Founder, Verb Brands “We are trialling a new system: each year we give our team a £500 budget to spend on professional development and £500 to spend on anything related to mind, body, and soul. To encourage them to use it we make them accountable for it. So, at their pay review we ask what they spent it on and what impact it had. If they haven’t spent it, we postpone their pay review. This is a good motivator but ultimately we want them to be happier, healthier team members.”
43 5. REMOTE WORKERS: Tamara Littleton, Founder, The Social Element “We took on huge amounts of staff when we won a big new contract and we doubled the size of the company over a 6-month period. Our virtual model meant we were able to segment the new people into separate digital areas and induct and train people and enthuse them, then integrate them slowly into the company by gently combining teams. The culture remained intact and we successfully doubled the size.” 6. DIVERSITY: James Johnson, CEO, Nicoll Curtin “We went from less than 10% of management being women to 42% in one year. The first step is realising it’s a problem and committing to change visibly in the business. In part, it’s about removing barriers. We did training to flush out negative management attitudes about acceptable and unacceptable banter in the office. We changed the amount of social activity that involved alcohol in the evening, which made it more difficult for people with children to attend. We were constantly on it.” 7. SELF-MANAGEMENT: Stephen Philips, Founder, ZappiStore “We adopted the idea of a self-managing organisation. Under this model, the team make decisions based on a clear company vision and the teams create their own roadmaps, KPIs and success factors. Managers are advisers rather than decision-makers. This removes any blocks which delays delivery. We are a tech business and our key measure is development to dollar, from first line of code to making money. On this measure, we have reduced our cycle from 18 months to 3 months.”
8. COACHING: Hugh Robertson, CEO, RPM “We moved to a culture of coaching where everyone is getting trained in coaching skills. It’s a continual process centred around agreed quarterly objectives, with 1:1 conversations every four weeks. Through a combination of better matching of personnel to our individual clients coupled with entrepreneurial initiative, we are achieving a higher retention of clients (we have not lost a single client) and the growth of some of our clients’ business has been in excess of 100% in billings of existing and new services.” 9. SENIOR TEAMS: Celia Francis, CEO, Rated People “Once you have a great senior team in place, you need to bring them together with trust and friendship. Early on when I joined Rated People I encouraged people to share something about their childhoods, backgrounds, or nicknames – personal details so they are seen as people rather than the persona they bring to the office. And we apply that to the whole team so people feel really valued as individuals; known for themselves rather than their job function.” 10. LEADERSHIP: Adam Ludwin, Co-founder, Captify “Strip away the usual barriers and hurdles like age, job titles or even length of time at the business and suddenly you create a hotbed for innovation and fast-growth. Our Futures Board initiative offers a platform for them to voice how they want to steer the business to our investors and the board of directors. It’s a rare opportunity, and they are huge influencers in how to innovate, go to market and work with our clients.”
TALENT TOPICS Five key themes and recommendations from this guide: 1. Mission: 2. Workspace: 3. Autonomy: 4. Learning: 5. Recognition:
Give people a purpose to buy into and demonstrate impact against Create an environment that allows people to work how they want to Devolve decision-making to remove barriers to productivity Empower people to learn and make them accountable for their own development Use meaningful reward & recognition to encourage values and behaviours
About Our Supporting Partners At Samsung we have a real appetite to help ambitious small and medium businesses work more effectively and achieve bigger and better things through the use of innovative technology. So we were super-excited to announce our new partnership with The Supper Club – an elite network of SME founders and owners who’ve achieved business success.
Vonage is a leading provider of cloud-based communications services. We’re proud to say we have nearly 2 million customers worldwide. Vonage’s business VoIP office phone systems are ideal for home start-ups or a burgeoning small company, whether you require a single business telephone line or a feature packed office VoIP solution.
The partnership gives us the opportunity to feed into The Supper Club’s wealth of knowledge, expertise and insight into small and medium businesses. This in turn allows us to share our technology and product knowledge to inspire SME founders to create more good days for their businesses.
Our aim is to help small businesses thrive by transforming how people connect. We help over 600,000 business users every day to revolutionise their communications by making their phone system do more, for less. And because we’re in the cloud, we provide you with complete flexibility to manage your services however you choose, with no installation charges, line rental, long contract commitments or hefty upfront setup costs.
We worked closely together to deliver co-branded events and produce thought-leadership with insight from its members. This included a seminar at our Futurescape event in June 2017, where The Supper Club discussed ‘The Impact of Technology on Talent’ to specially invited business leaders. With inspiring advice from The Supper Club’s members and our desire and determination to inspire change and create opportunities, this powerful partnership is designed to make a real impact. With our innovative technology and The Supper Club’s insight we believe we can do more – enabling businesses to work more effectively today to help them redefine what’s possible tomorrow. Whether ambitious SMEs want to enter the world of VR to offer their customers better experiences, use tablets to enhance staff productivity or come up with a mobile solution to tackle a specific business challenge, this partnership perfectly positions us to support SME grow, disrupt industries and challenge the status quo, and achieve even greater goals. Find out more at http://www.samsung.com/uk/ business/insights/.
At Vonage, we understand the ambition, creativity, and dedication that is required to start and grow your business. This was the inspiration for the Home Business 100 campaign: to champion the UK’s home businesses; to showcase the vast economic contribution they make; and to understand the challenges these businesses face along the way. Find out more at http://www.homebusiness100.co.uk/. Our campaign has developed further by celebrating ‘step up’ businesses. The home is a great starting place for any business, but growing businesses often need to move beyond the home. This campaign will offer advice and inspiration on taking those next steps to entrepreneurs and ambitious new companies. Find out more at: http://www.homebusiness100.co.uk/meet-thestep-ups/. Vonage Holdings Corp. is headquartered in Holmdel, New Jersey, with Vonage UK’s head office in London. Vonage’s shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and our customers use Vonage all over the world.
Could You Benefit From Membership of The Supper Club? If you would like to join The Supper Club and its extraordinary community of inspiring entrepreneurs, here are our criteria to be considered for membership: •
Only the founder & CEO can be a member, not their business (but senior managers can attend our workshop and speaker led events as well as our Directors Day)
Your business must have at least 20% sustained growth with a minimum turnover of £1million or have raised on a valuation of £5million and have a minimum of 10 staff. For agency style businesses the minimum turnover is £3million with 20 staff.
Membership excludes consultants, professional and financial services, one-man bands, life coaches, mentors and anyone only interested in selling to our members
The Supper Club is industry agnostic, B2B and B2C (to retain a good balance, we occasionally restrict membership from certain sectors)
THE RULES • We have a Give and Get ethos to maintain a community where members help and learn from peers • The Chatham House Rule applies to all of our roundtable events so members can be open and honest • Overt selling is not allowed, although it is not uncommon for our members to discover business opportunities with fellow members
THE MEMBERSHIP We have several membership options for founders & CEOs, and programmes for your senior managers. We consider all applications on their own merits and we meet all potential members face to face to ensure a good fit and a commitment to the Club’s values, culture and ethos. If you would like to explore membership of The Supper Club and the ways it could help you and your business, then get in touch by calling our team on 020 3697 0810 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
”Every time I have gone to an event, I have come away with such an amazing positive energy, a list of things to improve within the business and networking contacts. I think it’s the best investment in time you can make.” Cecile Reinaud, Founder, Seraphine
”The Supper Club is the sum of many valuable things but the most important to me is the sharing of information – issues faced, opportunities presented, with a peer group of business founders and entrepreneurs in a completely open, trusting and fun environment. It was a revelation for me and a revolution for my business.” Graham Painter, Founder, Cream
The Supper Club, in partnership with Samsung and Vonage, has released a talent guide for business owners based on shared insights from its c...
Published on Jan 9, 2018
The Supper Club, in partnership with Samsung and Vonage, has released a talent guide for business owners based on shared insights from its c...