Our beloved talent manager Ruby Thompson shares her thoughts on cultivating a positive company culture...
It was July 2017, I had been in my job 3 months, and it felt like everything was going wrong. People had left, we hadn’t hit target, and working in a small company where you know everyone’s behaviours and moods, something just felt a bit off.
I was airing my woes to a friend, unsure of what to do and how to make things better. He was in the process of rolling out Officevibe at his company and recommended it as a potential solution to my problem.
I had no clue whether Officevibe would provide the change that we needed, but it did. I launched the platform - which facilitates ongoing anonymous and open feedback by sending out surveys and polls to your team - and the response was incredible.
Truthfully, the feedback was very mixed, the incredible thing was finding out what had been bothering everyone, and how amazingly the team responded to having a platform where they could use their voice.
It gave us real-time insights into how the team was feeling and quantified that feeling by giving us a score on 10 metrics such as happiness, satisfaction, wellness and alignment. We could then track these scores to see how we’re doing and allowed us to create strategies and initiatives targeted towards our struggling areas.
Reading the feedback was a tough exercise that forced us to really reflect on a lot of our internal processes. Here are some of the things we found out…
People weren’t engaged with our company values; they were generic, didn’t suit our brand, culture and environment, and were created before most of our employees had joined RMP.
There was a divide between longer-serving RMP-ers and newer RMP-ers, which came as a result of having a period of high turnover across the business.
The team felt that big decisions that directly impacted their work were made by leadership without consulting the right people - there was a breakdown in communication from the top-down, and vice versa.
RMP's company culture had taken a turn and we needed to make some changes. This is what we did...
Pioneered by one of our Co-founders Ollie, we asked for a volunteer from each team to come together and, to quote Ollie’s first email: “reinvigorate the wonderful RMP culture we know we have within each team and across the business.”
This has been an instrumental factor in getting to where we are now. One of the first projects the team took on was reworking the company values. This exercise involved everyone in the business and ensured everyone was reinvested in what we believe in and how we want to work. It also helped bridge the divide we had, as it brought everyone together and gave us all an area of common ground.
Since then, we’ve organised eight company socials, established a corporate charity partner, run different fundraising events such as Wear It Wild and Sleep Out, improved a number of our internal processes, for example performance reviews and our quarterly presentations, and put celebrating our successes firmly on the agenda.
In 2018 I conducted stay interviews with every employee at RMP. I took each and every team member out for a trip to one of Brixton’s many charming, independent coffee joints, (or Pret), and spent an hour discussing...
Why they stay at RMP?
What would tempt them leave?
If they could change anything about their job, what would they change?
I’d been reading about stay interviews for a while. In that time, we lost a few key members of the team. Before each person left, we would have an exit interview. They were semi-useful, but I would always leave the room humming Carole King’s ‘It’s Too Late’. There were three reasons why I would do this…
And so, I began holding stay interviews.
The content of those conversations was a goldmine for managers, and for us as employers. The feedback has armed managers with wonderful insights into their teams, it’s allowed us to pick up trends across the business of areas where we need to improve, and opened our eyes to things we couldn’t see ourselves.
For example, we discovered that the number one thing that keeps employees at RMP is the team and how flexibly and autonomously we allow people to work.
Our retention rate has steadily been improving; in January 2017 it was 70%, January 2018 76%, and January 2019 81%. This is still a work in progress, however the overall improvement is really pleasing to see.
We had some company-wide training last summer from Penny Blake (if you need a training provider look no further, she is amazing) all about emotional intelligence and giving feedback.
One of Penny’s mantras is “feedback is a gift” and she repeated it again and again throughout the training. Once you get into this way of thinking, you find yourself wanting feedback all the time.
How could you not? It’s literally the information you need to make better decisions, ensure your employees are happier and ultimately make them want to stay at your company. There may be difficult conversations, however these often have the biggest and most positive impact.
* * *
Back In July ‘17, the RMP culture was like a three legged deer. Something was missing. People leaving meant teams were in flux, we hadn’t hit revenue target, and the mood was just a bit blah.
Fast-forward 18 months, everything has changed. We’re in a gorgeous new office, we’ve hired 16 new (and incredible) people, and the atmosphere is at an all-time high. Our working environment has improved, and it’s enabled us to keep our best people, and achieve another year of double-digit growth which is amazing for any business entering it’s 12th year.
I’ve learned that company culture, like a newborn fawn is something that needs constant energy, love and nurturing. If you leave it alone, or treat it as someone else's responsibility, it will suffer. If you make it something that people can be inspired by and held accountable for, in the same way that revenue is, you will make a great company culture.
Topics: RMP News
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