When Alan’s Father’s manufacturing business went into liquidation in the late 70’s, he demonstrated how much he cared for people, even though what he did was against the law. Knowing that the larger creditors would take the lion’s share of any funds, he withdrew the remaining cash in the bank and distributed it to the factory staff, according to their years of service. It was an act that would have a personal cost, as the revenue authorities pursued him for the money for many years, but a caring gesture that he never regretted. Like many of Alan’s stories, he’s told it more than once, but it’s a bit of a favourite.
People often say of their business, ‘working here is like being part of a family’… it’s a problematical statement, because if your family is anything like some of ours, then you wouldn’t necessarily want to work with them every day 🙂 But we know what they mean. We love our colleagues like they are family. Just like every family, there are times when we fall out, times when we disagree, and times when the only solution is for one of you to walk away; but underpinning it all is the knowledge that we care. We’ve also had to learn that to truly develop, both as individuals and as a company, caring can also include hard conversations, again just like a family.
We care for and have been taken care of by our clients too, often being made to feel welcome and at home in their business families. When we sign a contract or make a commitment to work with someone, we go well beyond the transactional arrangement. We care about our clients as individuals and we love nothing better than to join a team and go all out to make it a winning one. In return, we have had clients step up and take care of our company in so many ways. One particularly memorable moment was when Alan had a nasty fall at a conference in France and our client ensured he received first class medical attention, despite the fact that he was the facilitator for the safety workshop!
In terms of the environment we don’t just mean the planet. We mean the environment in which we’re working and the tone and atmosphere we create. We make it clear through our actions that we are there to take care of everyone, whether you are the CEO or the hotel porter.
We look out for the whole team; clients, suppliers, partners, everyone. In one scenario, we saw this play out in a very unusual way when a gentleman joined a conference dinner uninvited. Having established there was no danger and that the interloper concerned was living on poor means, he turned from unexpected problem to special guest and enjoyed the whole evening. We do care about the planet and we do our very best to be as environmentally thoughtful as we can. Like the rest of the world we are learning about that more and more and we began the year considering the many ways in which we could design and execute conferences in a more sustainable way. When live events finally pick up again next year, we will redouble our efforts to do that again, as well as continue to deliver online.
We care about the people and their potential
Last week you heard the story of Alana starting her job as office manager and developing her passion to become our chief artist and illustrator and that’s certainly one example of the company caring about people and their potential. It also works with our clients and partners too and we have been privileged to play a part in so many development journeys, alongside our own. Large corporations often use conferences and events as an opportunity for leaders to step up and some of the most successful moments have come from taking creative risks with those leaders and taking care of each other along the way.
We are kind and always include others
We are sure that the following quote will be one of Robin’s Mum’s sayings:
“If you can’t be kind … be quiet”
We interpret kindness as warmth, generosity and friendliness and when dealing with audiences, we have a golden rule to take care of and be kind to any volunteer, especially when we’ve ‘volunteered’ them! We always look to include people… we value their opinion and prefer their voices in the room. We ran a series of workshops a few years ago, as we have quite a few times, with attendees who didn’t really want to be there. These were tough audiences… grizzled, hard-working, weather-beaten industrial workers with calloused hands and years of experience.
It was a thankless task, walking through a lengthy power point deck, explaining how much simpler and more efficient work was going to be (according to management, the consulting firm and system providers) now it was all to be reported and recorded on a super sleek hand-held electronic device. It even had an industrial rubber cover to prevent breakage.
What it didn’t allow for was how you used it when it was pouring down and you were digging a trench. There was one school of thought that said we should just deliver the material and get out quickly. Then there was our school of thought, which meant being generous with the time and making sure that opinions were heard and reported. To be honest, being kind and including everyone threw the attendees off guard a little and the workshops though tough, had lots of humour and good-natured banter – after a while. They also had quite a bit of swearing. Mind you, it still doesn’t mean that the handheld device works in the rain, nor did the rubber cover prevent breakage – strange that.
We want the people we work with to become lasting friends
We’re very lucky that when we look back over the last 25 years we can count hundreds of people who have become our friends over that time. We know that it’s not always been a smooth ride but that is all part of being a human in human relationships. Obviously we always want to do a great job but perhaps the most important legacy that we would like to leave with any organisation is that we have been thoughtful, we have been caring and we have built up friendships that are worth treasuring.
We also hope, that unlike Alan’s father, we don’t face liquidation any time soon. To make sure of that, we need to develop more caring monsters and continue to build great relationships with clients who care for the monsters. Do feel free to get in touch if you think this might apply to you.
You can find more of our values here.