Are you working with or are you working for?

On Monday night Manchester United claimed their 20th League title, this despite the fact that there are still 4 games left to play this season. I’m not a United fan myself but I can’t help but applaud this amazing achievement, something made possible through incredible leadership and unparalleled teamwork. But I think that you and your organisation could have something that edges Manchester United and their multi-million pound stars…

Every Manchester United player will tell you that they play for a fantastic club – and I do not doubt that for one second – but because of the relationship I have with my employer I use a slightly different language; I say I work with them.

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Now this may seem a little odd to some of you and admittedly it might read a little weird, but when you think about it do you:

Work for your organisation to achieve their goals?

or do you:

Work with your organisation to achieve shared goals?

For me, it’s the latter.

I share the same values, I embrace the culture and I love the people who work here. I have an emotional attachment, a sense of pride, a willingness to learn and a commitment to do good. I work with Bromford to achieve my goals. I don’t say ‘my goals’ selfishly I say that because we share the same.

I work with my colleagues to achieve great things. I work with the people that I do because we have a desire to achieve the same objectives. We work together, in tandem, in unity, as one.

It’s not just about me helping Bromford be successful, it’s every bit as much about Bromford helping me to be successful. They support me, invest in me, they believe in me. Any company that does that will get the gesture replicated, ten-fold. If that culture doesn’t exist, you’re simply not working with one another.

Bromford is a people place – it’s about the relationships your form and making every single interaction count.

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Last week we had our annual conference; the Bromford Bash, a coming together of more than 1100 colleagues sharing and celebrating our 50 year anniversary. We had videos, music, tears and laughter, some fancy dress, an Apprentice winner, a Harlem Shake and our colleague awards. It was an incredible day. People from all over our organisation gathered under one-roof; customers, colleagues, board members, executives – we even opened up a live twitter feed using the hashtag #bash2013 which gathered energy from people outside of the room as well as those who were sat (or dancing) inside it!

And it was the words of our very own CEO who summed up this magical day, and what this great place to work is all about, and I quote:

“It’s the social glue that sticks this organisation together”

I am most definitely with Mick on that!

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Are your friends giving you a helping hand?

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I’ve been privileged enough to attend some pretty fantastic training sessions through my time here at Bromford and one in particular was with a brilliant guest speaker by the name of Nigel Risner. If you’re not familiar with him I encourage you to visit his website and subscribe yourself to his newsletter. I did this shortly after he presented to my Leadership session and remember reading one particular post entitled; ‘Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?’ Nigel stated:

“You are the average of the five people that you hang around with”

It’s a great saying and one I’ve not really thought about properly until now. I’m fortunate enough to have a circle of friends that stretches slightly wider than the above quota but I can’t say that I see each and every one all of the time. Some of my friends live and work hundreds of miles away, some in this country and some jet-setting or cruising around the world (lucky devils), so really I guess those that I actively see right now probably is a little closer to five.

So, what do my current circle of friends bring to the table? In no particular order (and I’ve named them A – E here so to not embarass them!), let’s take a look:

A Confident
My first friend is without a doubt the confident one of the bunch. Nothing seems to faze him. He has certain suave about the character he portrays although when you know him like I do he’s actually quite aloof and a private person. So, despite any woes or worries you may be languishing try and rise above them and apply yourself 100%, be confident and be the best you can be.

B Supportive
There will always be a moment when you need that helping hand, somebody to run an errand for you or a person to talk to. More often than not you turn to that same person, time after time. I’m fortunate enough to have a guy like this in my life right now. You always need somebody like this person. That one you can depend upon for that second opinion and to tell you how it is, not just what you want to hear. Have someone like this close by and you’ll never feel as though you’re ‘going it alone’.

C Sociable
This person is one of the friendliest of human beings I’ve ever come across. I’m not aware of anyone who’s said a bad word about him and should anyone choose to, I wouldn’t have it! He’s young, sociable, and punctual and really easy going, he’s a pleasure to be around. It’s not easy to get along with everyone, you never will I don’t think, but we can at least make every effort to make every interaction count. Always present yourself in the best fashion and you’ll make a lasting impression.

D Happy
This guy never fails to raise a smile. Call him daft; call him stupid, there are never dull moments when this guy is around; the life and soul of every party. A sense of humour is so important to me. I do my best to wear a smile every single day, no matter how I feel and what might be happening personally. A smile is radiant and infectious, go ahead and smile at the next person you see – they’ll almost always smile back at you!

E Successful
I’ve known this guy the longest of all my mates and have always admired what he has done with his life. Every group of people has at least one success story; somebody who, against all odds, no matter how big or small will always achieve great things – even when things are stacked against them. They lead from the front, they innovate, create and succeed – but most important of all they never forget where they have come from. They remember those who supported them from the beginning; and this is something I’m always mindful of.

And that’s it, these are my five. Like I said, these are the main people who currently keep my company. But are these really my fingerprints that make up my identity? In reflection I can say that I do take on some of these qualities, I’m not sure whether they come across and are perceived by the wider audience, but I’d like to think so.

So what do you think? Who would make up your five? Are you happy with the people you hang around with and do you see their qualities in you?

Is there anyone who’s zapping all of your energy, who brings you down? Is it time for a change or do your group bring the best out of you? Have a think and let me know.

Power to the people

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I’m a big fan of coffee and need a regular fix throughout my working day (ask my colleagues) and it was thanks to me making a round (yes, I do make them!) that I had the opportunity to hear a fantastic story from a colleague in my office.

‘C’ came to Bromford having worked in a family business for 20years, is a parent and has a wealth of knowledge in repair handling and contractor management – surely an easy choice for the panel when she came for a role in our Customer Contact Team, right? Well, what if I told you ‘C’ had almost no computer knowledge before the job interview – had never browsed the internet, doesn’t use social media and had never sent an email! Maybe the decision isn’t quite so easy now, is it?

Well, the decision was made to give ‘C’ a job who has now been with Bromford for close to 2 years. Recruiting for the role came in the shape of an assessment day where a series of questions and activities allow Bromford to look at the personalities and interpersonal skills of the candidates. For a position in our Contact Centre life skills are very important and ‘C’ had plenty of experience to offer. The team knew that computer skills could be learnt if the right person was appointed and were pleased to find that once ‘C’ had been successful in getting the role they had enrolled for a local IT course, which they attended in their own time at weekends, to help gain the skills and confidence for using a computer.

I asked one of the Team Leaders, who was one of the assessors on the day, a couple of questions about the appointment:

 

Q. “Was there anything that ‘C’ did that may them really stand out in the assessment day?”

A. “We knew that ‘C’ had lots of skills that they could bring to the team and that ‘C’ was very organised and logical in their way of dealing with issues.  ‘C’ came across well and showed that they were a good team player.”

                                               

Q. “How does ‘C’ perform in their role?”

A “‘C’ is consistent with their approach to the role, although not one of the highest call takers, ‘C’ is one of the highest performing for ‘Call Resolution’ meaning that they will own a call and resolve. ‘C’ really does try very hard to resolve an issue for the customer even if it means staying late – this shows in their call resolution figures. I have always said that if ever I needed to sit at anyone’s desk to answer the ‘phones I would definitely choose ‘C’s’. ‘C’ has every piece of information you could possibly need on their desk, very organised!!!”

 

So, in a world that has gone digital crazy where you can remote record to your TV from your mobile phone, order your groceries from the palm of your hand and follow Lady Gaga in the comfort of your own living room, don’t get thinking that those who’ve yet to be accustomed to this lifestyle have nothing to offer. The way in which housing organisations are recruiting is changing. Life skills and life experience cannot be taught, nor can having the right attitude. You can’t program a feeling or compassion, not just yet anyway! So, give power to the people. Let people like ‘C’ have a place in your organisation; if you can give them the computer skills they need to do the job they will probably offer your business a whole lot more in return.