Having run a number of companies, all service businesses, I know that it’s a case of getting people to volunteer to try harder than our competitors. You can’t force them to do that – they have to want to. So it’s about creating an environment where that happens.
It starts with recruitment. When we’re recruiting, we get people to spend the first 10 minutes of their interviews drawing pictures of something that motivates or inspires them. That’s what we talk about for the first part of the interview.
Then we use a Gallup tool called Strength Finder, to see whether people are hard wired to do what we need them for. If you have people spend every day doing what they do best, you don’t have to manage them, they find it easy, and everyone enjoys it.
When I’m hiring managers, I like people who have a poor school record – people who’ve been suspended or had lots of detentions because they’re the type of people who fight the status quo. In a high change organisation, you don’t need people who fit in by keeping their head down.
When people start I give them a small black book each. I ask them to make a note of anything they don’t understand, or think is rubbish, or done better by the competitors. Once a month for their first six months with the company, I get together with the new employees and I’ll ask them what’s in the book. Everyone will find something we can do better.
They then own it to fix it, and we provide them with whatever resources they need to make that happen. If something costs less than £100 to fix, we expect people just to fix it, and to put the cost on expenses.
When new staff have been here for a fortnight, I offer them £1000 if they want to leave the company. This is because new employees, two weeks in, know whether they’ve made the right decision or not – whereas I don’t, because I’m still training them.
By offering them this money we get them to recommit to the business. And no one has taken me up on the offer yet. The interview process must be working.