Keynote - Providing a return on workforce

Jeremy Campbell, Jeremy Campbell Coaching



Drawing on his commercial experience and over 20 years in human resources, Jeremy delivered an inspiring presentation on how to make the most of your workforce through leadership and strategy and engagement with both staff and customers.

“If you listen to your customers and your colleagues, they will tell you how to run your business and...make it profitable.”

Leadership and strategy

After introducing himself to the delegates in attendance, Jeremy explained why he was appearing at the CIMSPA Conference.

“I’m literally just a bloke who worked really hard. I left school at 15 and I’m dyslexic. Being dyslexic meant at school I was considered very bright, to the point where I was put at a desk in the back of the class. I left school with no qualifications but with a huge thirst for learning. After working for 38 years, I decided that my purpose in life is to help people be the best version of themselves they can be. And so I set up Jeremy Campbell Coaching.”

How do you make business impact from building the right culture?

“In my previous company we got the link right between really high engagement, a brilliant culture and high Net Promoter Scores - the highest in our industry - which lead to customer retention, revenue and profitability. It all started off with looking after our people and building a following.”

“If you listen to your customers and your colleagues they will tell you how to run your business”, was a mantra of previous CEOs Jeremy worked for and is something he fully advocates.

“Something our directors did when business was not going well was visit our customers to get their input and in particular be sure to visit customers who were not particularly happy with us. From this process they would find out huge amounts about our business. We called these discussions ‘moments of truth’ and they made a huge difference to the relationship between the company and the customer.”

Jeremy went on to explain his thinking on strategy and leadership, summarising it as

Strategy is quite simple to explain:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • How will you get there?

“Most people focus on the second one, and the actions they need to get there, but these are the tactics of the strategy. I believe leadership is all about clearly describing the end goal so you can build a following among your colleagues as well as your customers.

“If you can’t articulate where you are trying to go, it’s going to be very difficult to get your people to follow you.

“Leadership is building a following, both internally and externally of your business. Leadership is not easy. It is fraught with setbacks and failures but having a clear focus on where you want to be helps negotiate these setbacks. Another thing about leadership people don't consider, is that when you put yourself in that position, your followers are watching you and judging you all the time.”

Engaging the workforce

Jeremy took the audience through his perspective on delivering team engagement: “If people are your greatest asset, what are you doing to nurture, support, train and develop them?

“In 2012, my organisation at the time, was going through a really tough time. I had to make a lot of my colleagues redundant. This process, though it was unavoidable, eroded the trust between the company and our remaining staff, especially with senior management.

“In response, the company set up communication days where senior managers dedicated one day every month to visit each office, to talk to people about what the business was doing, and share both the strategy and key financial data. Forums were set up in the afternoons for people to give their feedback.

“For six months it was really, really tough. We got a lot of flak from people, who just didn’t trust us at that point. But, over time, the more we communicated, the more we rebuilt trust and created a more trusting culture.

“Senior management would also go through every comment on employee surveys and look for hotspots, which they would discuss with employees on communication days.”

“Hiring for character”

When it comes to recruitment, Jeremy is passionate about hiring for character, saying he is more interested in the raw material of a person than skills.

“Skills are important but you can teach skills. What do I mean by character? When it’s really bad, who have you got next to you, who is going to be in trenches with you when a customer is screaming at you or you are putting in a tender at midnight?”

The 12-week plan

The twelve week plan was an idea Jeremy introduced to his sales team which saw an incredible 400% productivity increase year-on-year.

“One of the biggest challenges with behavioural change is getting people to take action. And the only way you get behavioural change is by taking regular action.

“The company broke down the end goals for the individual sales guys over 12 weeks into bite-sized chunks and sent out a weekly survey to get some engagement, asking how they were doing, what they could do to help, what where the best things that had happened to them that week etc.

“It didn’t work with everyone, because some people don’t want to change, but from a management and HR point of view, we’d never had better people data. We got 45 people to do a lot of things on a daily basis, which ended up with massive results. It was all about discipline.”

As well as creating a movement within the organisation, the company created a strong following among customers and its sector. And thanks to the ‘moments of truth programme’, customers who had once been very unhappy with the organisation were willing to act as advocates for it.

Jeremy also recommend the use of Net Promoter Scores. He described it as a brutal test, but well worth it. He said the company became obsessed with the number of people taking part: “You’ve got to get more and more people filling in the form or the numbers don’t mean anything.”

Keynote conclusions

  • Strategy is simple to set, harder to deliver.
  • Do you have a ‘first follower’ and a movement or are you a ‘lone nut’?
  • Can you clearly describe your end goal and can your colleagues?
  • People really are your greatest asset.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Get senior managers to take responsibility for engagement surveys.
  • Hire for character.
  • Make a 12 week plan.
  • Create a customer-partner advocate following.
  • Become obsessed with NPS.

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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