Last week, TomorrowToday did a presentation at Investec in London. In the 2 hours I was there, I could clearly see that they take their people seriously. As an Investec customer, I was impressed and if they look after their people so well, I have confidence that they will look after my money too.
I have facilitated many training courses and I have noticed that free food for attendees is always a big incentive and thrill. I raised my eyebrows when I heard a Big 4 accounting firm in London has recently cancelled all food on training courses in order to save cash. Big mistake! I guarantee their staff will be fed up and bitter about that. And bitter, unhappy people are not very productive people …
The ambience that Investec created on Friday was a cut above any company I have ever been to. There were fancy breakfast hordevores, quality Starbucks filter coffee, salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, mini mueslis and smoothies. Everything was arranged in a very artistic and fancy way.
Based on the food Investec served their staff, I suspect they know how to manage talent. The environment they created proves to their staff that management takes them seriously.
All the employees I spoke to passionately agreed that Investec is one of the best places to work and the food at training courses is an indication of that. They know Investec values their contribution. Their people are worth investing in so they still serve really good food, despite the tough economic climate. It is the small things that count.
If you create the right environment, the right people will be drawn to you. You don’t need to force them stay because they will want to stay. I think recruiting talent is like trying to catch a butterfly. Apparently the more you chase a butterfly, the more it will elude you. But, if you do something else and turn your attention to other things, then it may come and sit close to you. You have to draw it to you indirectly.
‘People are your competitive advantage’ is becoming a cliché. The environment you create for your people can be a source of competitive advantage. That is what can bring out the best in them and draw them to you. As the authors of the great book ‘The Individualized Corporation’ say,
In companies that pay a fair wage commensurate with the individual competencies of their employees, the real source of competitive advantage lies in their context – in the internal environment that allows people to individually and collectively create far more value than they could if they were employed elsewhere. If, as it is often asserted, the key function of management is to help ordinary people produce extraordinary results and, the behaviours of people in a company can be so radically changed by changing the internal behavioural context, then shaping that context is undeniably the principal task of managers and the best measure of a firm’s quality of management.”
Julie, I am always amazed that in many companies it is the little things that are obviously the big things in keeping the staff. It can be as simple as what food is served. And companies that try and skimp and save in petty ways (while maybe paying big bonuses to directors, or keeping the company jet, for example) will just iritate their people.