How to Get the Best From Your People
The common theme in every business. Of every size. And in every sector.
It’s often said that people are a company’s most important asset. But people management and leadership can get ignored.
That’s where Adam Davey helps businesses.
Adam and his business partner Mark Dyer provide HR support to a range of organisations.
I spoke with Adam to find out more about the role of people in a successful business.
Values Are at the Heart of This People Business
Adam started by telling me why values matter to them.
“We want to work with people who share our values. Because that leads to more rewarding work and more rewarding projects.”
“Our client relationships are founded on trust. That’s fundamental to what we do.”
“But we’re not sector specific. We enjoy working with companies who value integrity, loyalty and fairness. As well as collaborating with like-minded people.”
Adam went on to share his experience of working with a single type of business.
“Our initial idea with Petaurum Solutions was to focus on veterinary practices. As they’re small businesses with teams of people.”
“However, whilst there are veterinary practices that value their teams and their people. And so see a positive return from good HR support. There are also practices with a different set of values that don’t want to invest that time and money.”
“So that taught us it’s about the people that run the business. Their mindset and values. Not the sector.”
Stop the Dripping Tap – Fix the Cause, Not the Symptom
There are many HR consultants in the market, so I asked Adam what made his business stand out from the crowd.
“A key thing that we do is to focus on the root cause, not the symptoms.”
“It’s like a dripping tap. You’ve got two ways to deal with it. You can put a bucket under it and catch the drips. And then remember to empty the bucket before it spills onto the floor!”
“Or, you can get a different set of skills, i.e. a plumber, to take the tap apart, put on a new washer and stop it dripping.”
“It’s the same with HR. You can treat the symptoms, so you continue to have problems in your business. Or you can step back, and say, why is this happening? What’s the root cause? And then do something to stop the problem in the first place.”
Grow Your Business: How to Cut Complexity and Keep it Simple
Over the last 6 years, Adam and Mark have grown their business. And so have faced similar challenges to other growing companies.
Adam told me how they’ve dealt with these.
“A new business never grows in a straight vertical line – well we certainly haven’t.”
“There have been some obstacles and bumps in the road. The trick for us has been to remain agile, responsive and in tune with what our customers want.”
Adam gave the example of the Benefits Cloud – their online employee benefits portal.
“The first 2 versions didn’t get any traction at all. Which initially astounded us as we thought both versions were amazing.”
“But we were in a minority. So you have to be honest with yourself, you have to listen. You’ve got to seek out feedback from people you trust. And sometimes from people you don’t know so well.”
“We learned, rebranded and rebuilt the product to turn it into something that customers liked.”
What can other businesses learn from this?
“The simpler we can make our solutions, our services and our products, the better it is for our customers. Because life is complicated enough.”
Adam gave an example that he sees with clients.
“Maybe you start with two directors who form the business. And then you employ your first member of staff. And then you need a couple more. Before you know it, you’ve got 10, 15, 20 people.”
“You would never have thought about a proper contract of employment or employment policies.”
“Over the years you create a tangled ball of string. With complexity on complexity. And it’s only when you step back you realise that you need outside help. You don’t design it that way but things evolve.”
Petaurum Solutions – A Springboard to Success
During the interview, I learnt that Petaurum means “springboard” in Latin.
Adam said “Our original idea was to take our experiences and share them with other businesses. To give them a springboard to their success.”
“Mark and I had worked together in large organisations. And we both wanted to find a better and more rewarding way to use our skills and experiences.”
“We’d worked with some amazing people. People that act with real integrity and have your back.”
“But sometimes in big organisations, the human side of things can get a bit lost.”
Now they work with businesses and organisations. From Spire Healthcare to the Post Office. Helping to resolve people and employment issues.
Benefits Cloud – A Win for Staff and Employers
A recent addition to Adam and Mark’s business is the Benefits Cloud.
Adam told me what this gives companies and their staff.
“It’s a simple employee benefits scheme based on an online portal.”
“Staff can access retail discounts, deals, offers, etc that save them money from their pay. These could range from holidays or a bouquet of flowers to discounts at Costa Coffee.”
“The benefit for employers is that it’s a recruitment and retention incentive. This could be the deciding factor to attract talent to your organisation. Because one company offers employee benefits and the other one doesn’t.”
“Also it demonstrates that the employer values their staff and wants to secure their loyalty.”
How does it work in practice?
“Employers subscribe to Benefits Cloud and provide it to their team members. They can customise it with their own logo and colour scheme, so it looks and feels like their own. And staff then log onto the portal to access the benefits.”
How to Build an Effective Team: 3 Steps to Take
Adam’s helped a variety of organisations to improve their people management.
So I asked him what key steps businesses can take to develop engaged teams.
1) Start with Why
“The first is, focus on why. Why does your business or team exist? What is its purpose? Because that’s critical to inform what the team does and how they do it.”
“And you need to align “what you do” with “how you do it”. Because when your team is high performing, you increase their engagement dramatically.”
2) Invest in People Management Skills
“Another step is to ensure line managers have excellent people management skills. Do they inspire their people? Do they lead or do they micro-manage them? Can they deal with ambiguity?”
“You hear so many horror stories of line managers that micro-manage the life out of people. And it’s never a rewarding experience for the person on the receiving end. 7/10 people that leave an organisation, leave the manager, not the organisation. So, the day-to-day impact of line managers can’t be underestimated.”
3) Focus on Well-being
“Third and final step is to focus on the well-being of your workforce. Think about their physical, mental and financial well-being. Because if you affect any one of these in a negative way, people won’t be as productive as they might be.”
“It’s good for the team, as it will drive good engagement. And it has a positive effect on business performance too.”
How Digital Marketing Helps You Reach a New Audience
When I first met Adam he told how his business was using content marketing. So I asked him what content they were creating and why.
“We’ve got two websites – Petaurum Solutions and the Benefits Cloud. And this year we started writing new blog content and articles for those sites. With the aim to make them more authoritative on Google.”
“We’ve recently relaunched the Petaurum Solutions website. So we value feedback on how we can improve the way we get our message across.”
“And we created big pillar pieces with lots of feeder articles to gain momentum around the key themes of what we do.”
“We underpin that with a good social media presence, pay-per-click and retargeting adverts.”
Adam went on to explain the thinking behind this.
“Lots of HR solutions need a relationship-based approach. But the Benefits Cloud is entirely online. The registration, the sign-up and the delivery. So a lot of our marketing for Benefits Cloud is digital. Because we can reach far more people with it.”
“In addition, we use our own professional networks. Keeping a regular dialogue with the people that we know.”
“Also we’re developing a referral marketing strategy. So, we’re working with a close group of trusted allies and associates.”
Giving Back to People in the Community
As values are so important to Adam and Mark, it’s no surprise that they also support their local community.
Adam told me how the Benefits Cloud (standard level) is free for charities of any size. This also covers not-for-profits like kids’ football teams, gardening clubs, pensioners clubs etc.
What’s more, they’ve also begun work to support a local hospice.
“We set up our first formal charity partnership. It’s with St. Barnabas Hospice, based in Lincolnshire. They provide end-of-life care and treatment and support for the families. And they do some amazing work,” said Adam.
The clear message from Adam is that to get the best from your people, you have to value them.
You need to be clear on why you exist, invest in people management and look after your team’s well-being.
And if you’ll have more success if you tackle the root causes of the problems you see, not only the symptoms they create.