A couple of weeks back I went along to an Inspired Leaders Network meetup in London. There I listened to John Pearson from Virgin Radio and the Shazam app company describe what made a successful brand prosper. One of the key elements said John was `having a common aim or cause – people only start moaning about money when they no longer feel happy to turn up for work, their morale hits rock bottom without a belief in the cause.’
It made me think back to some of the magazine jobs I’ve had in the past, where being editor was about striving for a vision of how the title could look, feel and develop – not the wages!
More importantly, as John was speaking, you could see the smiles and nods of agreement from delegates around the room at London BPP Business School.
Instead of the brutal, back-stabbing antics of The Apprentice, or the stagey, soap-opera fakery of Dragon’s Den, real business people were listening about sharing ideas, learning new skills and breaking down barriers within companies. Opportunity, new projects, making a difference – that’s what drives people onwards, not just next month’s salary.
I got on the train back to Manchester and pondered for two hours on the various management structures I’ve encountered in the last ten years or so. I’ve known some great, inspirational people like motorcycle insurance broker Carole Nash – she started a company on her dining room table and sold it for £80m to Groupama in 2007.
Carole had some assistance from a guy called Damien Keeling, one of the most forward-thinking MDs I’ve ever met, who was willing to listen to any ideas which could add value to the CN brand. Compared to some of the endlessly petty, `them & us’ squabbles which hamper many publishing outfits, Carole Nash was a breath of fresh air.
But times, and companies change. Since the recession kicked off in 2008, the UK business environment has got more competitive. Strong High Street retailers have closed forever. Banking, media, telecomms, manufacturing, the legal sector – nobody is immune from this ongoing shake-out. There’s a ruthlessness now which is leading to more social division, more fear in the business world. However, instead of getting all `dog-eat-dog’ maybe it’s better for managers and directors to work in a different way – if we all have to work longer, for less pay, what else is there but the cause?
PUT A CVO PROJECT ON YOUR CV
Back at my desk the next morning, I searched out business link projects in Cheshire and found a brand new initiative that Cheshire Council are promoting with CVO – the Council for Voluntary Organisations.
In a nutshell, Cheshire West & East Councils are setting up a service called SkillShare, where local companies can offer practical help, business advice, PR support, marketing services or just some bricks and mortar for a new community building project. It isn’t about cash donations, it’s about sharing experience, taking a meaningful stake in a charity’s local vision.
Fact is, there are very dedicated people working in the third sector, often for free, but they are struggling right now. Grants have been cut and donations from the public have also dropped off. The future for many smaller charities depends on local people with business acumen helping them succeed in….yes, you guessed it, a common cause.
So myself and the team at Source PR are getting involved in SkillShare. Listening. Learning.
Maybe your business should do the same? If you do I reckon your staff morale and managerial effectiveness would all benefit from the experience.
I’m Twittering on @Npointsocial by the way