In earlier posts I have talked about how, with purpose set, our values guide our behaviours and consequently the experience people have when we are partnering with them. Once people understand the positioning of each of our brands, it is our underlying motivation (why / purpose) coupled with our behaviours (culture guided by values) that truly creates a USP.
Having unpacked our purpose and why our values are important to us, this series will take each of our values in turn and outline how we aspire for them to influence and shape the experience and outcomes for each of our key stake holder groups: our Clients, Candidates, Colleagues and Community.
Next up: Be famous for excellence
When we were defining this value, key words and phrases associated included; exceptional delivery, referential, expert, transformational, aspirational, market leading, pioneering, innovative and… well… being great at living out all our other values!
In discussion it was also very clear that you don’t tell people you are famous for excellence… they tell you (or not!), as such this has to be an aspiration, a journey, and like many of the other values requires seeking feedback and a commitment to continually getting better and better at what we do.
The belief that one ‘is’ famous for excellence probably signals the start of the end of that fame! The aspiration ‘to become’ famous for excellence is what drives us. We know it is a journey and, with the help of the feedback from our key stakeholders, we will remain on it.
As ever, our purpose sets the ‘true north’ for everything we do: We are here to advise and support people and organisations to realise their potential, so that together we can impact lives and communities for the better. Our values then inform ‘how we do what we do’ on a human level.
To bring this to life let’s look at how this value impacts each of our stakeholder groups:
Be famous for excellence for our Clients
We aim to deliver exceptional results for our clients through commitment to excellence on every step of the journey.
When you engage us to run a search on your behalf we become an extension of you and your brand in the market. We are meticulous in building our understanding of how you want us to position you and we are highly innovative in how we then take your story (with your consent) to market. Being excellent at telling your story and in all our processes and interactions with others becomes a reflection on you and your organisation. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and this includes how we interact with people who are unsuccessful in a process, and those who help us along the way with referrals and advice.
This focus often leads us to advising clients on their Employee Value Proposition and helping them build enhanced assessment and onboarding processes. We want to help our clients to thrive by attracting and retaining the very best talent. The core recruitment element of this is just one part of a suite of services that we offer. Whilst the end result is important, so is how we get there.
We only know what we are getting right and wrong by asking for feedback. High levels of repeat business and referrals are strong anecdotal evidence that clients like what we are doing; it is direct and specific feedback on what you valued and what we could do better that gives us the truest indication of where we are and how to improve.
As already alluded to, we see being excellent as a journey, not a destination.
Be famous for excellence for our Candidates
We know our markets inside out, we know our clients inside out, and for us to help our candidates to the best of our ability we need to get to know you inside out too. Consequently being great at advising our candidates must start with great assessment of where you are now and an in depth understanding of your long term aspirations. From here we can help advise on the best route towards your goals.
Focusing on our purpose brings clarity and direction to how our values apply and as such, striving to help candidates to realise their potential is what we are seeking to be famous for. This might be specifically finding you the role that will help you further develop, but it might also be advising you on who to connect with, how to write your CV, facilitating peer to peer networking, inviting you to one of our career development events or any of the many other ways we seek to help you understand and realise your goals.
In each and every one of these interactions we are striving to be ‘excellent’ as judged by you, and consequently your feedback if of huge importance. If you think we could have done better, please tell us – it’s the only way we will grow.
It is important to note that whilst we are reviewing the potential of developing a suit of ‘private client services’, our current services are paid for by our client organisations, and it is normally only one candidate per client process that will secure their next role through that process. However, whether successful in a process we are running or not, we always do our level best to help people on their career journey and prioritise building relationships with candidates who are currently or aspire to be in the markets our brands serve.
Be famous for excellence for our Colleagues
Delivering an excellent service for clients and candidates often leads to the introduction of new business that is best delivered by another colleague – the internal referral in turn helping the receiving colleague by opening up a new relationship for them to do great work. This is one of the many perks of having excellent colleagues!
Equally important is the aspirational culture this value creates. As already mentioned, excellence is not a destination, it is an aspiration – something we are always striving for. It sparks a restless curiosity as to how we can get better. It manifests itself in practical ways with pre-pitch role plays, challenge of proposals before they are sent, lunch and learns, on the job coaching and challenge and support from a group of colleagues who have a wealth of experience from which we can all draw on to get better.
Just as we aren’t ‘the finished article’ as individuals, as an organisation we haven’t arrived at excellent yet either! We recognise that we can get better, and will be seeking colleague feedback more regularly, building more individualised CPD programmes and committing to continually advancing in helping our colleagues realise their potential.
Whilst we are always striving to get better, complimenting this drive that underpins our culture is a desire to celebrate success as it happens and we regularly recognise the great contributions our colleagues make. Celebration takes many forms, from coffee and cake to quarterly lunches and annual incentives – good humour and good company are key components to any celebration.
We do stop to smell the roses – just not for too long.
Be famous for excellence for our Community
We define ‘community’ as the social and environmental causes that are important to us.
We want to make our difference to the causes that are important to us, and we believe that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Some of what we do we share with the outside world, some is of a more personal nature – in any case we are committed to maximising our contribution of time, expertise and funds.
Over the years we have been fortunate enough to be involved in running some fantastic charity events for The Wooden Spoon, The Brain Tumour Charity, Marie Curie, CHAS, Good Morning Service, Social Bite and The Samaritans to name just a few. On each occasion we look at how we can get better next time and how to maximise the benefit to the cause we are supporting.
An example of this in action can be seen in us getting feedback from a charity we supported at the end of 2019 that the social media noise we made on their behalf during an offsite team building day was a huge help. This made us far more intentional about our awareness raising in our ‘Virtual North Coast 500’ completed during the ‘lock down’ phase of the COVID 19 pandemic. We might not have been able to organise a physical event in the same way as in the past, and funds may have been a little harder to raise, but we made sure we kept these causes in the spotlight to maximise the exposure they got from our actions.
We see all our stakeholders as an ecosystem. Being a great place to work helps us attract and retain great colleagues who in turn enable us to deliver great solutions for our clients and candidates. In doing this, we generate relationships and resources that allow us to support great community causes. Some clients and candidates choose to engage with us because they like our community impact and many colleagues join us for the same reason. When we get it right, it becomes a loop on positive repeat, with each element supporting and reinforcing the others.
If working with a purpose and values-led search provider is of interest to you please get in touch and we will connect you to the right colleague. Our shared purpose and values provide consistency of approach across our group, our bespoke brands and business models ensure that solutions are tailored to your specific needs.
Jamie Livingston is Group Chairman and CEO.