Your People are your Business. You get it right for them, they’ll get it right for your Customers.

I left my previous job because I didn’t feel that I could make a difference for my team or the Customers.

You had to be a cog in the machine and the only way to grow was to become a bigger cog. HomeServe was a company working on borrowed time when I joined. They were a corporate high flyer for years but a mis-selling scandal left the company on the wrong side of Customers, regulators, media, and even the staff.

During my recruitment I was told that they needed my technical experience as a marketing professional but more importantly they thought I could help to build a company culture with a true focus on the Customer. I was assured that we had the time and financial strength to build a truly Customer-focused culture and I knew, from experience, that the best way to do this was to empower the People of the company.

My remit was marketing and product so naturally I started there to build a new culture which at first would be a culture within a culture. I knew things would be difficult but it soon became obvious this was going to take a lot of time. The People in my team were in a daze with an overall Engagement score of 52%. 

Bond of trust had been broken.

They had been let down by the previous senior managers and now the bond of trust with the company management team had been completely broken. HomeServe had done a brilliant job of “admitting guilt” but none of the People in my team seemed to accept any personal responsibility. They had been led so top-down that their lack of previous empowerment enabled them to emotionally distance themselves from what had happened. I decided that if we had any chance we would have to create a much different relationship between the People and the leadership team. I adopted a strategy based on communication with the driving point being that it had to be personal and on a scale that was unprecedented at HomeServe.

Our engagement survey seemed like the obvious place to start.

32% of our People felt that the Senior Management Team took the time to understand their needs and challenges.

I started by asking them exactly what their needs and challenges were. I don’t mean by survey. I mean by sitting down with each person 1-2-1 and finding out their needs and challenges. This meant meeting hundreds of People from across the business, some of whom had been with company over 10 years but had never had a meeting with an executive member of staff. The feedback from our People allowed me to decide what we needed to do next collectively and also make a few individual changes going forward.

47% felt that they could communicate openly to our senior leaders.

I started to do what was known affectionately as the awkward walk about. I believe this is what all managers should do - it just hadn’t been done at the most senior level at HomeServe. With my team being spread out across two buildings, I would just start at one end and say something to every single person. I advised them all to get an elevator pitch ready as free form was stressful for some but as I worked my way through the 1-2-1s the walkabout soon became easier.

So, did it work? Well, the engagement scores from 2 years ago have seen a huge boost; going up to 84% in the first year and then climbing further up to 91% in our most recent survey. And the senior management questions? 94% and 96% respectively. Plus, our CEO is now officially ranked as one of the four best in the UK according to GlassDoor and the People that rate him this highly are the same People who three years ago felt so let down.

We know there is more we can do – more for our People, more for our Customers. But, critically, our People aren’t just back on the bus…they’re helping to drive it. And that feels good.