A good friend bought me a copy of People Over Profit by Dale Partridge a few years ago. It really resonated, and its ethos has stayed with me ever since. The book explores seven core pillars by which people are put first:
People matter. Truth wins. Transparency frees. Authenticity attracts. Quality speaks. Generosity returns. Courage sustains.
When I found my home at Yard, I knew it was right, because this is a business that from day one put its people first, and I feel truly blessed to find my “work-home” here.
It’s not just at Yard though, every day I seem to read of more modern, better and healthier workplaces. It seems, on the surface at least, that more and more businesses are concerned with the quality of their products, the ethics of their supply chain, and how they can give back by donating a portion of their profit to charity. I personally know many business owners who want a more responsible and compassionate world and have launched a new breed of socially focused business models.
In fact, this year I was a judge on the panel of the Company Culture Awards, which was a very humbling experience. I learned the different ways in which many digital businesses are shaping their businesses for, and around, their people. The pandemic has shown a shift in working patterns and behaviours on a global scale. I talk with peers and other business leaders every day, many of whom are working out how their work should look today, and in the future. Flexibility and trust are two words I hear a lot.
Finding the right balance
But let us not deny, it is a hard balancing act for business owners and managers.
As of October 2021, I step into the role of CEO here at Yard. The CEO role is an entirely unique role – as much as I have decades of agency and business experience, the role of leader of a strategic vision is hard to prepare for. There are a variety of stakeholder demands to balance.
Is the priority happy people, or a profitable business?
I think today, more than ever, these things are no longer in conflict with each other, and in fact are inextricably linked. Good businesses are operated by good people. With good and happy people, comes good and happy clients. As an organisation we have to be fiscally sound – charging enough to make profit, whilst ensuring our clients get value.
Charging the right amount allows us to employ the right group of people with the right skills and talent. With the right talent, we do even better work, provide better value to clients and therefore achieve better rewards, allowing us to keep our amazing team. It’s an important cycle: attract, acquire, reward and grow.
Learning from within
There are a few key ways of trying to measure if people feel valued in the workplace: one is to ask them, another is to monitor how long they stick around. We have several different ways of engaging with our teams, but the most honest and transparent is the anonymous NPS system. This is a regular survey which delves into various components of being a Yardie – what’s working and what’s not.
The results of this are shared with the entire organization, warts and all. This is honest, transparent and authentic, driven by every single person on team, so every answer matters. Sharing the results is vital, as it shows we’re not just going through the motions, that we actually want to be accountable to our people and let them see how the team has responded as a whole.
We engage in a similar style survey with clients, and ex-clients. We want to know what we do well, but also where and what our weaknesses are. The more candid a response, the more we learn. Post-Covid we, like many organisations, are learning to adjust and make changes to our ways of working. This involves tough conversations about our value, what we are truly good at. It is liberating, identifying where evolution is required and being proud of what we excel at.
As I embark on my new role, these core pillars are the metrics that I shall measure myself against, as any good business leader should. When it comes to balancing a profitable business and a satisfied team? I’ll always choose both.