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The relationship between humanity and technology has been accentuated in these recent times but, perhaps, it has shown us just what the future will look like.
We all love watching a specialist at work. Look at Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast at just 23 years old, making history yet again as she nails two more signature moves at the World Championships. Consistently aiming for perfection and blurring the boundaries of what is possible.
Or Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen. He can debone a chicken like a surgeon. As he’s proved on a few occasions, he can do it blindfolded, the results of years slaving away in Paris kitchens long before he saw a TV camera.
The secret to their success? Tough training camps, hard work, consistency, only they can tell you, but here are a few tips for success in business:
Aptitude versus attitude
In surrounding ourselves with talented people, it is easy to pick the most qualified, the most educated, but that won’t work if they don’t fit with your values. The wrong person can have a really negative impact on your business. As an entrepreneur, you can create the most inspiring company in the world, but if your team doesn’t share those same values, this ethos will soon disappear.
So instead of focusing on aptitude, turn your attention to attitude. We learned this lesson early on, fortunately, and soon saw an office filled with clever, glass-half-full kind of people. What attributes are most important to you? Your culture? Answer these questions and you can shape your company culture.
Invest in your people
Great people do great things, but they need the right culture and environment in order to do this. Give them the freedom to pursue projects outside of their main remit, provide some fun, make work a place they actually want to be, encourage light bulb moments and don’t punish water-cooler moments. Lead with authenticity and passion; making your staff feel like they have a stake in your company and contribute to its success.
Invest in technology
Technology has been our savior in these unprecedented times, it has allowed people to stay connected, productive and remain engaged with our company goals.
We already used a range of digital tools and tech to deliver our services, but as we and our clients switched to remote working, embracing technology has really kept us at the top of our game.
Behind each one of our PAs lies an arsenal of technology. They are human but assisted by machines.
Take the simple act of answering a call. Before our PAs even say hello, a chain reaction of technology is fired into action. We run a Customer Relationship Manager system that recognizes incoming telephone numbers. The CRM system then automatically presents all relevant caller information to the PA. If the caller asks about their bill, changing an appointment or anything else that’s logged on the system, our PA will know about it in a split-second.
All of this is what makes our PAs seem superpowered, telepathic even. Calls routed via our intelligent switchboard are matched with the PA most able to answer the question, either as the dedicated PA or the one most experienced in looking after sector calls. VIP callers (as specified by our clients) are fast-tracked direct to the right person at the customer-end: no more letting that important new business inquiry wait on hold for five minutes. Some customers choose to use our Interactive Voice Response system to find the right person, usually when they are experiencing a huge volume of calls. This voice recognition service is incredibly accurate. The whole system means callers are connected to the right people in the shortest possible time.
This is just one example from our business. There are many more out there for different industries, as technology really can superpower your people, and this relationship will only become more apparent as we move forwards.
The hallmark of a specialist is to make something look easy. As with Gordon whipping up his classic British Beef Wellington to the world or Simone Biles doing her floor routine. You don’t see all of the work that goes into making it possible, but you appreciate the results.
Same goes for business. In providing a service to your clients, you are experts who are efficient and respected. How you make that happen is the secret to your success. Our formula is superpowered people.
People should be at the heart of everything you do. That’s easy to say in the plain sailing pre-pandemic era, but it can be a tricky one to master when your business is in the balance.
From the very start of our business, our founders strived to create a culture of compassionate leadership, to maintain open and honest two-way communication and to inspire understanding and knowledge in team members.
When people aren’t afraid to have a voice or an idea and share it, a business can be more agile and creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and long-term success. What’s more, when leaders ask for their opinions, look after their wellbeing and communicate openly, it instills the trust of our people, powering them to do what they do best.
Being successful at this comes down to respect, ensuring that each team member understands everyone’s value and knows how to communicate with others who might have a different mindset.
My mantra: Surround yourself with fantastic people who are full of ideas and fill the gaps in your armory. No one’s perfect. Not even Simone Biles.