Case Study: Archway Business Solutions

CASE STUDY: Archway Business Solutions

Recruitment Support

"Tash very much took the pain out of the interview process..."

ABOUT ARCHWAY BUSINESS SOLUTIONS

Archway Business Solutions install photocopiers and printers directly to clients and offer an ongoing support service to ensure they work efficiently. They are a service based company, and focus on offering the best after sales care to clients within a very competitive market place. The company purchased a new building 10 months ago which started the ball rolling for business expansion and highlighted the need for support to recruit the right people to enable that growth.

“Our long-term objective is to manage our HR function in-house, but in the meanwhile, we needed an HR professional to advise and support us – and to train our internal resource.”

THE PROJECT - a customer’s perspective

“We have grown organically as a company and I have run the business by myself over the last 8 years, I recognised with the business expansion I needed to recruit someone to work closely with me.”

“I was fine to recruit engineers but really need some HR support to help me find the right admin person to work alongside me. I tried to find the right candidate on my own, but I was presented with some challenges, so decided to ask Tash to come and help me.”

“Tash came and walked me through the interview process. Initially helping me create the questions; leading the questioning with me during the interview and then helping me to review the candidates at the end of the process. After the interview process we discussed all applicants and came to a joint decision as to who the best person was for the job. ”

“Tash very much took the pain out of the recruitment process. She was prepared to write the letters advising people they had been unsuccessful as well as the offer letter to the successful candidate. ”

Tash also helped us with the contract, sitting down and explaining it to both myself and the successful candidate, making it simple and easy to understand. It was a seamless process.

“I will definitely be working with her in the future and would recommend her to anyone with any HR worries at all.”

A great result

“Tash also helped us with the contract... explaining it to both myself and the successful candidate”

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People Plans

6 Questions to Ask Yourself for your 2021 People Plans

What plans do you have for your business in the New Year? Is your HR strategy in complete alignment with your organisational objectives?

Along with your plans for other core business areas like marketing, sales and finance, your people plan plays a critical role in ensuring your company achieves its goals. But it’s not set in stone: it’s dynamic and must be regularly revised and adjusted to keep pace with changing circumstances.

It’s good practice to review your people plan quarterly, and this is something we do with all our retained clients.

Reviewing your HR needs is an exercise in reverse engineering, requiring you to work backwards from your goals to consider their impact on your people – then check you have the infrastructure, skills, and competencies in place to make them a reality.

In our experience, businesses tend to focus on the resources and roles they need to have in their people plan, giving rather less thought to how those resources and roles need supporting to be effective.

A good people plan will look ahead to consider capability and training needs and try to anticipate potential change – for people as well as the business. If for example, you know an employee is going to be taking maternity leave in a few months, your plan needs to factor this in, identifying how continuity will be maintained, and when any conversations need to take place.

So, how does your people plan measure up against the ambitions you have for your business? Here are six questions to ask yourself:

1. DO YOUR EMPLOYEES HAVE THE RIGHT MANAGEMENT SKILLS?

Does your plan take account of all the skills your people need, highlight where there may be skill shortages, and identify how these will be addressed?

Too often, people are put into line management roles and expected to succeed because they’ve demonstrated they are technically competent. But this doesn’t mean they have the management skills their role calls for. Regardless of where an employee may be in the management line, do they have what it takes to engage, motivate and inspire loyalty in those people who report into them?

Do your people have the skills they need to deal with change? Businesses that invest in training managers and equipping them with the skills they need to manage, motivate and support people and teams are best placed to deal with change.

Inevitably, there will be times when you have no option but to be flexible, react and adapt, but this said, it’s vital to make sure you have a solid infrastructure in place for training people so that when change hits, those people impacted know what to do. Ideally, you will have anticipated and rehearsed potential scenarios, so plans have been experienced and tested.

2. ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES FULLY ENGAGED WITH YOUR BUSINESS?

To make the most of the skills, talent, knowledge and experience in your employees, you need to ensure that each of them is fully engaged with your business.

Ideally, at all levels in your organisation, you should be striving to foster an environment that encourages employees to invest fully in their role, so that for example, they’re prepared to dedicate discretionary time to consider ways systems and processes might be improved.

Building engagement requires looking at the ways you are connecting with your team – and the ways they are connecting with each other. But it isn’t only about communication, it’s also about emotional intelligence, and you’ll need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to nurture this skill within your people. For example, you might have equipped a line manager with all the technical skills required to undertake an appraisal, but do they have the emotional intelligence to have a heartfelt conversation with their colleague? A conversation that will be deep enough for them to fully understand the whole person at work – while keeping within boundaries?

3. DOES YOUR PLAN TAKE ACCOUNT OF YOUR EMPLOYEE’S FUTURE NEEDS?

As much as it possibly can, your plan needs to anticipate the future needs of your employees.

Using all the information available to you, you need to consider each individual within your organisation. What support do you need to put in place to help them be the best they can be? Are there any personal circumstances or life events you need to factor into your plan?

Assessing future needs to ensure your organisation gets the best return on investment in its people – and that employees get the best from the organisation – may involve having difficult conversations. But it’s crucial employees feel they can be open and honest, and confident you’ll listen to their needs as the business develops and grows.

4. ARE YOU LOOKING AFTER THE WELLBEING OF YOUR PEOPLE?

Is employee wellbeing embedded into your organisational culture?

In recent years, there’s been a growing focus on wellbeing in business. Often though, when it’s talked about, it’s in the context of employers going ‘above and beyond’. But it needs to become the norm. The pandemic threw the topic into sharp relief, and unsurprisingly, those employers who already proactively embraced the concept are those that have fared best.

Your employees are your most valuable resource, and taking care of them requires an approach that’s very different to the way you maintain and look after any of your other assets. Your business needs to invest in helping employees to stretch and develop themselves on a personal level, and to take care of their mental and physical health,

5. ARE YOU USING THE RIGHT CRITERIA TO JUDGE PERFORMANCE?

Are you rewarding the right people in your organisation?

Setting targets is key to achieving business objectives, but if you operate one-dimensional incentive schemes that only trigger a reward when a ‘magic’ number is hit – you may not be leveraging the full potential of your people. This kind of culture can lead to extreme swings in performance, and the focus on targets can distract attention from other vital areas and suppress creative thinking.

An ideal solution will identify and reward people who – though they may not always reach every target they’re set, nevertheless contribute to steady, constant and sustainable growth or improvement.

The concept that momentum is as important as achievement is best explained by business guru Simon Sinek in this video How Do You Measure Success?.

6. ARE YOUR HR POLICIES UP TO THE JOB?

Do you have clear HR policies to help guide you through any eventuality?

Taking the time to set down policies and keep them up to date is essential: by having them in place, everyone in your organisation will know where they stand, and they’ll provide a point of reference if clarity is required.

It’s easy to see creating HR policies as more burdensome admin, but not having them when they’re needed can prove disruptive and costly. It’s worth noting that those businesses with unambiguous homeworking policies found it easy to implement new ways of working during the lockdown.

If you don’t have HR policies across all your core people areas, you’re leaving rules and boundaries open to interpretation. Of course, when you come to apply rules, you can use discretion, but not having any to apply will leave you exposed.

Remember, you don’t have to invest your own time in creating HR policies – you can always engage an expert like Organic P&O Solutions to do it for you!

Let Organic P&O Solutions Review Your People Plan!

Tell us about your goals, about the opportunities and challenges your business is facing, and we’ll review your people plan to make sure you’ve got everything covered. Contact us today for an initial chat!

Case Study: Bridewell Consulting

CLIENT FOCUS: Bridewell Consulting

HR Support - High Growth SME

We wanted someone experienced in working with bigger organisations. Someone who woudl bring a larger enterprise approach.

ABOUT BRIDEWELL CONSULTING

Bridewell Consulting, one of the UK’s leading independent Cyber Security and Data Privacy companies, employs over sixty highly skilled consultants across the UK. Their core areas, which encompass a full suite of wider services that can be tailored for clients, are Cyber Security, Penetration Testing, Data Privacy and Managed Services. Bridewell supports the protection of clients’ systems and data by evolving and strengthening their security and privacy posture over time.

“Our long-term objective is to manage our HR function in-house, but in the meanwhile, we needed an HR professional to advise and support us – and to train our internal resource.”

The challenge

“Our vision is for Bridewell to become a global leading cyber security company where people enjoy and want to work. We’re hiring the best talent from across our industry to build an elite team of specialists. Since we started, we’ve experienced significant growth, with our headcount doubling each year.”

“We engaged Tash to assist us in developing an organisation and culture where people would aspire to work, to ensure we have the right management structure in place for future growth and to help us build a fit-for-purpose team. She also has responsibility for supporting and training our internal HR assistant – with a view to us eventually taking control of HR ourselves.”

Working with Organic P&O Solutions

“Early on, we used Tash as a safety net, to provide us with HR advice as and when we needed it. But as Bridewell has grown, she’s become an extension of our internal team, delivering crucial strategic support.”

“Tash has reviewed our HR processes and documentation – including our staff handbook and employment contracts to ensure they’re fully compliant. She meets regularly with our internal HR assistant, setting her tasks and overseeing her work to help us increase and develop our in-house HR knowledge.”

“With Organic P&O Solutions supporting us, I can be confident that our HR tasks are being driven forward, and that we have the right structure in place for our planned growth.”

Going the extra mile

“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Tash has been there to support us. In service areas where clients have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic, she’s helped us to make adjustments to our structure with as little impact to our staff as possible .”

A great result

“Working with Organic P&O Solutions gives us the reassurance that we’re doing things the correct way. I know Tash is always on call if I need advice, and when I have ideas I want to discuss, I value her experience and the external perspective she brings.”

Case Study: Chartered Institute of Building

CLIENT FOCUS: The Chartered Institute of Building

An Leadership and Executive Coaching success story

Tash's coaching has been critical in helping me to make a positive impact on the business

ABOUT THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF BUILDING

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) is the world’s largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership. Members work worldwide in the development, conservation and improvement of the built environment.

The CIOB accredits university degrees, educational courses and training, and its professional and vocational qualifications are a mark of the highest levels of competence and professionalism.

“When I was promoted to a new strategic role with a team reporting into me, I recognised I was going to need support and development in certain key areas.”

The challenge

“Having worked in administrative roles within the CIOBs HR department for several years, I gained my MA in Human Resources Management and
was promoted to the position of HR Manager. After discussing with my line manager how to make my transition as seamless as possible, we engaged
Natasha from Organic P&O Solutions.”

“Tash has been working with me for over a year now. Initially, our face to face coaching sessions focused on the functional aspects of my new role, addressing a wide range of issues including aspects of team management and workload prioritisation. More recently though, I’ve been working with Tash on developing my leadership, influence and resilience skills.”

Working with Organic P&O Solutions

“Tash has been a massive help to me in making the transition. She’s helped me to shift the way I work by getting me to challenge the way I think, working with me to analyse situations, consider why I respond in certain ways – and assisting me in altering my instinctive behaviour where necessary.”

“Tash’s HR experience has been particularly useful for me in my role. If I’m struggling with a particular HR issue, I know I can call on her for advice.”

Going the extra mile

“Tash has really helped me to challenge the way I think: she picks up on things that are symptomatic of what I need to change: things that without her prompting I wouldn’t even be aware of.”

A great result

“As a result of the work I’m doing with Tash, I’m confident in my role and the decisions I’m making. I think this confidence feeds through to the rest of the organisation in terms of the way I work with my colleagues and how I interact with my team at all levels.”

Case Study: Inca Accounting

Client Focus: Inca Accounting

A HR Support success story

Tash's expert advice helps us to balance our legal responsibilities with our business objectives

ABOUT INCA ACCOUNTING

Inca Accounting specialises in working with the owners of micro to small start-ups, helping them build and grow successful, sustainable businesses. By surrounding owners with all the support and information they need, Inca has achieved a new business survival rate that exceeds the national average by more than 300%.

“Before appointing Organic P&O Solutions, we were having to dedicate considerable internal time and resources to dealing with HR-related matters.”

The challenge

“Overseeing HR has been part of my role at Inca from the outset. As our workforce grew in line with our expanding client base however, I found the increasing amount of time I was spending on HR matters was impacting on my other important responsibilities.”

“With ambitious plans for further growth, we knew we needed to find an HR advisor used to working with big organisations – one that could respond to our demanding requirements and deliver a high level of service to free up more of my time.”

Working with Organic P&O Solutions

“Working with Organic P&O Solutions has transformed our HR resource at Inca. Tash brings a new level of professionalism to this crucial area,
thinking strategically and helping us to anticipate issues before they even arise.”

“We have developed a strong working relationship, and Tash has become an important member of our team. it’s reassuring to know that she is there to give us prompt, professional advice when we need it, and to provide ongoing support to our in-house HR administrator.”

“Tash has also helped us to finalise our HR Employee Handbook, capturing all our HR policies in one place. The Handbook had been a work in progress for several years but remained unfinished due to lack of time. Thanks to Tash, it’s now fit for purpose and underpins all our HR activity.”

Going the extra mile

“Tash is proactive and full of great ideas. She helps ensure we comply with the latest legislation; doing so while always keeping the best interests of our business front of mind.”

A great result

“Knowing that Organic P&O Solutions have got our back on everything HR-related leaves me free to focus on servicing our clients. I know I can have complete confidence that Tash will take care of all our requirements – and that she will do a great job!”

Case Study: Pantera

Client Focus: Pantera

A Leadership and Executive Coaching Success Story

Tash helps us understand what our legal obligatios are - and what it's possible to achieve just by sitting down and having a conversation

ABOUT PANTERA

Pantera is the leading carpentry and joinery contractor in London and the South East. Working on prestigious residential, commercial, educational, and leisure projects, the multi-award-winning business has established a reputation for delivering high-quality work and first class client service.

Integral to Pantera’s success are the company’s apprenticeship schemes and graduate and senior management development programmes which have contributed to producing a highly trained workforce.

The challenge

“Our HR requirements have changed as our business and workforce have grown exponentially. While our HR subscription service was still useful for queries relating to junior staff and apprentices, we recognised that we needed help implementing the advice provided. In addition, the service was not robust enough to support our needs in relation to senior staff.”

“Pantera’s rapid scale-up meant that the business also needed help with HR training, and with updating our policies and processes. It was clear we needed to bolster our HR resources in line with our expansion.”

Working with Organic P&O Solutions

“Organic P&O Solutions’ input has been crucial in helping us manage the HR challenges that have come along with our business growth. Tash supplements the support we get from our HR subscription advice service, and adds a further level of depth to it, helping us understand and implement the guidance we receive.”

“Tash has been instrumental in helping us develop employment contracts that address the fluctuating workflow typical of our sector; balancing the flexibility we need while ensuring contracts remain fair and attractive for employees. She’s helped us get our HR policies in place and put them into practice so we’re fully compliant, and has run training workshops in skills including interview techniques to help us make better recruiting decisions.”

Going the extra mile

“When I needed to recruit a Personal Assistant, Tash worked with me to create a profile of the ideal candidate. It really helped our focus throughout the process, and the eventual appointee fitted the criteria Tash had set out exactly!”

A great result

“Having Tash work alongside Pantera lends us a level of HR professionalism not normally found in a business of our size. Being seen to invest in people shows our team how much we appreciate and value them, and elevates our reputation as a good, caring employer, helping differentiate us from our competitors.”

Case Study: Martin Grant Homes

"Well paced and full of content relative to the subject.....engaging and challenging. Great course. Would thoroughly recommend Organic P&O Solutions"

Martin Grant Homes is one of the foremost housing developers operating in the South of England and is currently operating on a dozen sites from Northampton to Chichester, producing in the region of 300 homes a year, both for private sale and for affordable housing.

Organic P&O Solutions designed a two-year Site Manager Academy programme for the company with the aim of developing these key members of staff to deliver:

  • Improved management skills
  • Cohesive team approach
  • Co-operation across sites
  • Shared purpose and focus on company goals

Watch the video to hear how the organisation and the managers involved have benefited from the Academy.

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personalities

Making it Personal: 6 Ways to Use Personality Profiling to Build a Better Business

Being aware of the qualities and characteristics that create the unique personalities of the people we work with is essential – especially right now, when the pandemic means many of us are not able to connect with colleagues in person.

So, do you know what makes each individual in your organisation tick? Can you say what motivates them or which communication style they prefer? Do you know how they respond to stress or the types of people they do and don’t work well with? Can you predict how they’re likely to think and behave in different situations?

These are just a few of the questions you need to be able to answer if you’re going to get the best out of your people – and all of them require insight into the diverse range of personality types you’ll have in your business.

Understanding where your employees – and you – sit on the personality spectrum is a crucial step to developing improved teamwork, communication and productivity.

Thankfully, getting inside the heads of your employees doesn’t require you to be a trained psychologist. Ascertaining personality types is relatively straightforward. There are many profiling tools available that can assess and compare personality characteristics. They vary in sophistication and the level of information they return, but most are based on simple, multiple-choice questionnaires. There’s no pass or fail – each of us has a place on the spectrum – but the information they can provide has a range of practical uses.

You might think of profiling as something primarily used by employers when recruiting, to check a candidate has the qualities – as well as the qualifications and experience a position calls for. Certainly, if you’re recruiting, personality profiling tools can help make sure a candidate is a good fit for a vacancy – although, if this is the goal, they shouldn’t be used simply to identify traits, but rather as a means to understand the preferences of candidates in work situations.

At Organic P&O Solutions, we use personality profiling both for our clients and our own team. Here are six ways you can use it to benefit your business:

1. To Improve personal effectiveness

Profiling tools can be used on a one to one basis to help anyone get a deeper understanding of their personality. The process will provide insight into areas the person being assessed may not consciously be aware of, including how they make decisions, what they like to be appreciated for, their preferred communication style and their stress triggers.

Profiling shouldn’t be used as a one-time checking tool. Personally, I think there’s a good rationale for revisiting results regularly as context and circumstances change. As an example, at Organic P&O Solutions, we recently looked at our own team profiles to learn how each of us was likely to be affected by lockdown. It was a valuable exercise that helped us understand what we needed to do to assist each other and get the best out of ourselves individually and collectively.

2. To increase employee engagement

By helping employees understand their personality traits and how they fit within their team and organisation, profiling can help employees feel recognised, valued and accepted. As a result, it can bring about greater cohesion, a sense of belonging, higher engagement and more robust performance.

Research has shown that employees having the highest levels of engagement with their employer are likely to perform 20% better than other employees and are 87% less likely to leave the organisation. Clearly, engagement is directly linked to organisational performance (to find out more, download our whitepaper here).

3. To develop more robust team dynamics

When team members and managers understand the motives, tendencies and behaviours of each other, they can use this knowledge to inform how they interact. Profiling can create the opportunity for a more effective dialogue where team roles and responsibilities can be agreed, and where communication and conflict are easier to manage – leading to a strong team bond based on mutual understanding.

4. To enhance management skills

Personality profiling can help managers adapt their leadership style to get the best from their team. When a manager understands their own personality characteristics and those of their team, important decisions can be communicated in a way that takes into account what works best for individuals.

5. To build better communications
Personality profiling creates a common language that allows individuals to explore their differences more constructively. Knowing the personality types and preferences in a team, and understanding how you and others like to interact can facilitate better communication

Sharing results with employees will encourage them to adapt their behaviour where change may be needed, and make them aware that people may interpret the same thing in different ways – helping them understand why colleagues might see something one way while they see it differently.

6. To increase productivity
Crucially, personality profiling can positively impact your bottom line. Companies that focus on developing people and strengthening teams to their fullest potential will see an increase in productivity levels. This is because their team learning and individual preferences are linked to how goals can be delivered, and those, in turn, are connected with overall business objectives and performance metrics in a way that works for everyone.

You might believe you know what personality type you are – but you’ll almost certainly know someone who’s opinion of themselves – at least in certain situations, is entirely at odds with your own. You may believe you’re a good judge of other peoples’ personalities, but be honest – how often have you been proved wrong?

The fact is that we’re all capable of working outside of our preferred styles. For many years I worked in an environment that required me to be outgoing, so that’s the persona I adopted – but actually, I lean more towards the introvert/thinker end of the scale. When I have a problem to solve, the last thing I want to do is talk it through with someone: I need time to myself to focus and think things through. Because profiling has helped make me aware of this, and I’ve shared it with my team, they understand that this is how I like to work, they know to leave me alone while I consider the challenge and come up with a solution, before I bring it to the table for discussion.

Tools of the Trade

As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of personality profiling tools to choose from. In no particular order, here are three of our favourites:

  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
    MBTI has been around for nearly six decades. It’s my preferred tool when it comes to working with teams because it’s very scientific and can produce real ‘light bulb’ moments. However, being able to interpret the results and translate them into practical actions requires having a good understanding of the process.
  • DISC Profile
    Even older than MBTI, DISC is an intuitive profiling solution that’s simple to implement. DISC refers to the four behaviour types the test assesses: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. It is more focused on behaviours than preferences but has the same Jungian roots as MBTI.
  • Thomas Kilmanm Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)
    TKI looks at how individuals deal with negotiation and conflict – both of which call for the same skills. We use this tool to help people understand how they can adapt their behaviour to address challenges and reduce the likelihood of conflict.

Let Us Help You Make It Personal

If you’ve not used personality profiling, you may not be getting the best out of yourself or your employees. Here at Organic P&O Solutions, we’re expert practitioners in a range of profiling tools. Contact us today to find out more about how we can use them to help improved personal and team performance in your organisation.

Get Your FREE Personality Profile Report!

Would you like a free personality profile report on yourself? We’re giving 7 reports away free of charge – but hurry, this offer is on a first-come-first-served basis.

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Gears

Every Successful Business Depends on Great Suppliers: Meet Ours!

When I started Organic P&O Solutions, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do. It’s the same now as it was then: to use my HR skills to help organisations optimise individual and team performance, face their key challenges, support them in times of transition and provide the resilience and momentum they need to achieve their goals.

Ambitious, yes, but I stuck to my guns, and seven years later I have a great team around me and we’re working with some amazing clients.

But of course, I didn’t do it all on my own. Besides the other HR consultants who work with me, Organic P&O Solutions depends on a range of vital suppliers who get on with the essential peripheral business functions like finance, marketing, design and IT – leaving us free to do what we do best.

In one of my recent posts, I wrote about seven important lessons I’ve learnt over seven years running a small business. In retrospect, I should have added an eighth lesson: To be successful, it’s essential to build a network of great suppliers who you trust and love working with.

I’m going to put that right now, by introducing you to the suppliers who have helped me grow Organic P&O Solutions into what it is today, and by sharing some thoughts about my own experience of developing a supplier network.

 

Meet the Suppliers We Couldn’t Do Without!

 

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping Supplier

 Mike Wallace: Rosemary Bookkeeping

One of the first things you realise when you start a business is how much paperwork you create. Managing it is a job in its own right. In the early days I had a virtual assistant to help me with my admin. When it became clear that Nat was too good for this role however, she quickly became my first trainee consultant, leaving me without anyone to do my bookkeeping.

The crunch came one Sunday morning when I found myself with three competing demands. I had to write a proposal for a big client pitch; I needed to prepare and send out my invoices which were overdue – and I wanted to spend some time with my son who had just started school. Something had to give, so I outsourced my bookkeeping to Mike, who I knew through networking.

Since then, Mike has taken care of my invoicing, making payments and looking after credit control. He takes the information from all the financial transactions we make and prepares it for our accountant without me even needing to see it.

 

Accounts

Accountant Suppliers

Ellen Lefevre: Lefevres Chartered Accountants

Of all the supplier relationships a business owner needs to develop, I’d argue that the one they have with their accountant is probably the most important. A good accountant can be integral to helping a business grow, and while it’s not impossible to change an accountant mid-relationship, it’s much better to get it right first time.

Ellen was recommended by a friend who also ran her own business. She did my very first set of accounts and we’ve worked together ever since. Highly proactive, Ellen gets financial information to me early, making sure I do what I need to on time, and keeping me updated on changes to things that impact the business like corporation tax an VAT. She adds real value, sitting down with me each year, taking me through my accounts and giving me invaluable advice.

Crucially, Ellen gets on really well and works seamlessly with Mike my bookkeeper. Together, they have put robust processes in place that mean I don’t need to get involved in the daily admin at all. This has given me space to develop my own analytical reporting information, so when I have my FD hat on, I can focus on the performance of the business – rather than worrying about paperwork and complying with statutory obligations.

 

Marketing

Marketing Suppliers

Lisa Vassallo: One To Three Marketing

Although I look after the implementation of marketing activity for my business, I’m outside of my comfort zone when it comes to marketing strategy. Thankfully though, I met Lisa through networking. I liked her approach right away, and after attending several of her social media workshops, decided she was perfect for helping me with marketing for Organic P&O Solutions.

Lisa has been advising me on my digital marketing activity for about three years now. We meet regularly to discuss my goals, and she helps me plan my social media in line with these, recommending appropriate content and style. Alongside this, she helps me interpret my analytics and refine my marketing, so I get the best results with my budget.

Lisa helps me to be braver and more creative. I have lots of ideas, but I trust her to challenge me if she doesn’t think something will work – and to help me develop the best ideas into something that will!

 

Digital Design

Design Suppliers

Karen Reynolds & Angela Pugh: Creative Associates

My relationship with Creative Associates is another one that goes back a long way. I worked with Karen and Angela when I was with Waterstones – where they were responsible for designing much of the branding and communication material. I always liked their work, so when I set up Organic P&O Solutions, and needed an online presence, I asked them to create my very first website.

The site’s been through several iterations over the years (in fact, I’m about to reveal another one in the very near future, so watch this space!), and Creative Associates are now firmly established as my brand guardians – my go to supplier for all my digital design requirements.

 

Print & Design

Design Suppliers

Tara Morris: Abstract Print & Design

We might live in a digital age, but print still has the power to stand out, impress and be remembered. I certainly use print – in marketing campaigns for postcards and bookmarks, as well as for client training materials – and when I do, I go straight to Tara!

IT Support

IT Fibrefly

Rob Nossiter. Fibrefly

Like most businesses, at Organic P&O Solutions we depend on the functionality of our IT equipment, a secure network and reliable, 24/7 connectivity. Our remote working model makes us especially reliant on the ability to communicate with each other, and with our clients from anywhere – something that’s become even more critical in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Rob makes it all happen (we have no idea how), looking after all our tech, making sure our software and apps are all up to date and ensuring we stay safe from any viruses and other online threats. Given that IT is so fundamental (and mysterious), it’s reassuring to know that Rob has our back and that if we do have any kind of issue, he’s only a phone call away.

4 Things I Learnt Building My Supplier Network

Nobody works in isolation. Behind every brand and every entrepreneur are a host of suppliers helping them to realise their full potential. Having gone through the process of building my own supplier network, here are my four top pieces of advice:

 

Take time to find the perfect match

When you’re a small business, your suppliers are your team, so it’s essential you find people who share your values, you trust implicitly, and who you genuinely enjoy working with. While there will be plenty of people out there with the technical skills you need, finding those that are right for you and your business is likely to take time.

 

Make the right connections

I relied on a combination of networking, word-of-mouth recommendations and contacts from my previous life in the corporate world. Referrals are great because they come pre-validated, while connections made through a networking group you consistently attend allow time for relationships to develop before you make any commitments.

A word of caution about using contacts you may have made from working in the corporate sector. While some of my strongest supplier relationships date back to my corporate days, I found out early on that not all suppliers are suited to supporting smaller businesses with their very different dynamics.

 

Think about how suppliers will work together

As you grow your supplier network, it will be important to keep in mind that some suppliers may need to work closely together – your bookkeeper and accountant for example, or suppliers of different aspects of marketing. This is where a recommendation or getting to know someone over a period of time through networking can be useful, but in the end, you’ll have to trust your own judgement

 

Learn to let go – outsourcing works!

If you’re not great at ‘letting go’ of things, engaging others to do work for you might take some getting used to. However, when you do start to outsource those tasks that you can’t do, you aren’t good at, you don’t like doing, or that aren’t financially worth you taking on yourself, you’ll quickly see how it adds value to your organisation.

 

Why Not Give Your Suppliers a Shout Out?

It’s easy to take your suppliers for granted but remember that most of us are running businesses that are both clients and suppliers. If you’ve found someone who’s great at what they do, why not do them a favour and share their details with your clients?

 

And if you know any organisation that is looking for help with their HR, please do pass on our details and tell them to get in touch for a chat!

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Culture

Do you Have a Healthy Organisational Culture? Answer these 4 Questions to Find Out!

Many businesses will invest time and effort into defining their brand values – but will give somewhat less attention to shaping their organisational culture.

Is this true for you?

If you’re not nurturing a culture that promotes positive behaviours, habits and ideas in your team, your business is unlikely to be performing at its full potential.

Culture happens organically, but a healthy culture needs cultivating. I sometimes liken it to gardening. Positive aspects need to be tended and fed nutrients, so they grow and flourish, while negative aspects need weeding out before they have an opportunity to take root.

Part of developing a healthy culture in your organisation means identifying those great things that people are already doing in your business – whether intuitively or by ‘accident’, and adopting them across your business.

Although cultural health can’t be measured, it can certainly be felt, and it’s something I can usually pick up on very quickly on visiting a client’s premises. Key signals include the general atmosphere, whether I’m greeted with suspicion or welcomed, the way people communicate and interact with each other and whether they’re happy to speak openly in the office or prefer to meet behind closed doors.

Over many years of being called in to advise on issues that – superficially at least – appear to stem from an individual employee – but ultimately transpire to be deeper rooted, I’ve noticed common factors that give insight into an organisation’s cultural wellbeing.

Based on my experience, here are four questions which will help you to determine if your culture is in good shape, or in need of attention:

How Does Recognition Happen & Who Gives It?

Do you have a culture where people feel the need to ask for recognition from their manager? Or where they’re continually drawing attention to their efforts and productivity compared to that of their colleagues? Both can be indicators of an unhealthy organisational culture.

In the workplace, we all need to feel our contribution is valued. But in a healthy culture, where recognition happens naturally, the way employees are treated and spoken to will let them know that they’re doing their job well and are appreciated. This is as much about people being complimentary about each other as is it is about managers taking time to say thank you and give praise.

How Are People Judged?

In some organisations, the amount of time an individual spends working over and above their contracted hours is seen as a measure of their commitment and loyalty to the business. Early morning starts or late-night finishes – maybe even both, are taken as proof that they’re working as hard and effectively as they can.

But an environment like this is almost certain to be masking cultural problems in an organisation. There’s only one way to measure performance, and that’s by results.

A ‘presence’ culture takes no account of the fact that every organisation is made up of individuals who work differently and have unique responsibilities outside of work. Someone staying late in a healthy results-based culture won’t automatically be judged to be working hard, or working inefficiently. In this kind of culture, management will instead ask themselves what caused the employee to need to work the extra hours, what difference did they make, who benefited – and does it point to a problem somewhere else in the system?

In a results-based culture, values are observed naturally, assumptions are checked before conclusions are drawn, poor performance is explored and issues are addressed and resolved early, so they don’t have the opportunity to grow into more significant problems.

How Are Mistakes Dealt With?

In a healthy culture, people aren’t afraid to ask for advice for fear of being criticised or looked down on. Rather, they know that in raising an issue, an employer will recognise there’s a capability gap in the business – not necessarily in an individual.

In this kind of supportive culture, employees won’t be reticent to come forward if they identify a gap, will be more likely to propose a solution, and individual personalities will not be part of discussions.

Consider your organisation’s approach to dealing with a customer complaint. Is your initial reaction to look for shortcomings in your team – rather than in their skills, in your processes or systems? If so, it may be that you need to work on adjusting your culture.

A healthy culture is one where mistakes are accepted and learnt from. People will have clear ownership and responsibility, and if something goes wrong, processes and systems will be reviewed first, and blame will not automatically be assigned to an individual.

 Are People Forthcoming About Difficult Issues?

Many of the issues I’m asked to advise on began as minor problems. However, because they arose in a closed culture, they were allowed to fester and grow, rather than (back to our gardening theme) being nipped in the bud.

A healthy, open culture leaves no space for rumour, gossip or suspicion. When all team members are fully informed all the time, changes don’t come as a surprise. Because they are anticipated and understood, even difficult decisions are supported.

How did you do? Are all the signs pointing to your culture being perfectly in balance, or do they indicate that you have areas to work on? Whether you need a cultural revolution or just a little evolution, Organic P&O Solutions can help!

 

We Can Help You Develop a Culture that Improves Team Engagement & Productivity!

Your cultural health needs to be a focus whatever the size of your business. The bigger an organisation becomes, the more complex its cultural dynamics, so the earlier you get the right foundations in place, the better:

We can help you to develop a culture where people intuitively behave as they should, recognition occurs naturally, performance is based on results and mistakes lead to change, not blame. A culture where there are fewer misunderstandings and disputes because all team members feel included and valued, confident in raising difficult issues and trust each other enough to have open and honest conversations

If this sounds interesting, get in touch and let’s arrange to have an initial discussion about your organisational culture!

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