Friday, January 26, 2024
If writing a mission statement is step one, delivering it is step two, says Steve Hutin, the managing director of Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd.
As trade media has extensively covered, we held our latest managers’ meeting earlier this month (January). We brought together over 25 branch managers, directors, and staff from head office to the in-person event at the Village Hotel Swansea.
The hospitality company markets itself with the slogan, ‘…the hotel with everything under one roof.’ Of its Swansea establishment, specifically, it says, ‘A stylish stay on the waterfront.’
It’s a good idea to have a tagline or mission statement that underscores your work or purpose; it’s especially useful to refer back to in the throes of battle or when the pathway becomes unclear. We were recently invited to include our mission statement on a tender document:
‘Positioning specialised lifting products, engineering and inspection services nationally at the point of use.’
Much less than ‘everything’, it focusses on our core services as the business prepares for another 10-year period of growth and expansion. Like the Village Hotel organisation, we explain what we’re trying to do, and who should care.
Turning a statement into a mission possible requires a number of things to happen, the main ones probably being leadership cohesion and pulling in the same direction. It’s why Village Hotel staff all believe they’ve got everything their guests need.
Alongside the hotel, you’ll find health and wellness clubs, with swimming pools and award-winning exercise classes; pubs and restaurants; plus, meeting rooms and conference facilities. Co-working spaces and branded coffee shops are aplenty too. In the context of the hospitality industry, they really are, ‘…the hotel with everything under one roof’.
As soon as someone at reception utters, ‘Nah, not here, weary traveller,’ or, ‘You want Holiday Inn for that, mate,’ or, ‘Why have you packed swimming shorts? This isn’t the Bahamas,’ the concept loses its way. It’s why, at the centre of everything we do, we refer back to availability and proximity to the point of use, nationally.
A good way to keep everyone singing off the same hymn sheet, is to regularly bring management together, as we did at Village Hotel Swansea. I’ll suggest doing this in-person versus remotely as a given, but here are five additional ways to make such activity productive:
- Keep it short
It’s not a competition to stage the longest meeting. A company that needs a week to discuss leadership strategy doesn’t strategise very well.
We outlined how the business is prepared for rising short-term costs and made a long-term commitment to attracting and retaining talent. We explained how a new fiscal year that runs January to December will facilitate projected budget planning. We looked at depots, products, people, and more. But we kept it short and simple.
We tackled everything, under one roof, in four hours.
- Social element
There are corporate companies that pride themselves on not allowing their staff to enjoy themselves; they work late, avoid networking events, and don’t have Christmas parties.
Not presenting different environments for people to interact means a business isn’t giving opportunities for everyone to find their platform. Some individuals thrive in a formal setting, while others prefer a more laid-back, social scene to express themselves. It’s also a good idea if individuals get to know each other personally, rather than by job title, especially if they work in different locations.
After four hours of meetings and presentations, we were heading for refreshments. Of course, Village Hotel had a well-stocked bar.
- Multiple presenters
Many CEOs like the sound of their own voice. Some even assemble staff just to listen to them talk about how successful they are. Not only does that detract from clarity of message, but people turn off if they only hear from one person. Do you remember what your history teacher at school said in the last five minutes of the lesson? Probably not.
We gave various leaders a chance to talk: Alan Varney, engineering services director; Angela Holmes, financial director; Kevin Moyes, group manager; Erin Thomas, HSE manager; and Steve Simpson, engineering services business development, at Gemmak Engineering Ltd., our fabrication site. They all got a chance.
Think of a graph tracking the average person’s interest in a presentation; it will peak quickly and then fall away. If you keep passing the microphone to different people, to discuss different subjects, the audience’s interest is refreshed over and over again.
- Ownership of content
There’s no point having leaders in place if they’re told how to lead and what to say. Alan, Angela, Kevin, Erin, and Steve, all took ownership of their own papers and walked the delegation through what they felt was of most importance.
If a business has recruited and trained to a good standard, engineering services directors, financial directors, group managers, HSE managers, engineering services business development staff, etc., will all be able to commentate on their areas of expertise far better than the people that they report to.
At Village Hotel Swansea, I’m sure the boss doesn’t tell the gym manager to present to a leadership group, only to tell them how to explain the membership programme that their employee designed.
I will add to this point, however, that it is necessary for someone to look at presentations or session content in advance, to avoid duplication. Where repetition does occur on the day, speakers should have the sense to simply say, ‘As covered by…’ and move on.
- Disseminate findings
I’ve been in and around companies where the owner and senior staff are aloof and separated from middle management and other employees.
Managers’ meetings, at any business, whether it be a hotel or rigging shop, should never be about creating a C-suite culture where the doors are closed to other members of staff. Once a business reaches a certain size and scale, it’s impractical to involve everyone in every conversation. However, that doesn’t mean that consistency of message and service are no longer important.
If writing a mission statement is step one, delivering it is step two, and that only happens when the findings of management sessions are filtered down to all staff. It’s not about burdening them with information they don’t need, but it’s damaging to morale if people feel like they are being asked to work in the dark, or a plan isn’t shared.
Communication is everything
As I’ve blogged about before, once a company starts recruiting to senior, strategic positions, a healthy brand image is a prerequisite, and that is upheld by delivering a mission statement and communicating it effectively—in-house and externally.
Kevin Moyes was a great addition to our operation because not only is he responsible for attracting the right personnel we need to execute future expansion plans, but he’s an expert in making sure that messages are communicated clearly and thoroughly.
In the spirit of continued improvement of best practices, I should acknowledge that such communication wasn’t always a strong point of ours, particularly during the fastest periods of gazelle growth.
It’s interesting that the main focus of our latest media announcement was the fact that we had brought our management team together, but the press homed in on our plans to invest over £1 million over the next two years in opening three new locations in Glasgow, Bristol, and the West Midlands this year; and two more, likely in the north and south east respectively, in 2025. I understand why it piqued their interest and we’ve welcomed—and answered—all follow-up questions.
As media will also be informed in the coming weeks, we will be relocating our Gemmak engineering division to a new site in Swansea, hopefully opening in March.
The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) has recently confirmed plans to stage the fifth Global Lifting Awareness Day—#GLAD2024—on Thursday 18 July.
#GLAD2024 is now a widely celebrated day where manufacturers, suppliers, and end users are among those that share material that promotes safe and high quality load lifting. Social media posts, videos, articles, and in-person activity will again be bound together by the hashtag. Lifting industry stakeholders will once more be responsible for promoting one of the world’s most important industries. Join us.
Our next managers’ meeting will be in July too. When’s yours?
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd