Steve Plummer, Managing Director of Scope Strata Management shares his experience of growing his workforce along with his business.
Steve was the CEO of a large body corporate management company based on the North Shore when he decided to leave and start his own business in 2016. Scope Strata is now a rapidly growing property management business with a team of seven.
Steve’s philosophy for successful growth centres around being true to your vision and having clear goals. Steve considers his relationship with his team as important as those with his clients and business partners. Steve understands that many mutually beneficial opportunities come through having a simple, genuine interest in how other people are getting along in their professional and personal worlds. In the same way, he sees the benefits of valuing his team as individuals.
“I don’t consider myself as being in purely transactional relationships”.
If for example you treat employees as commodities, you won’t get people who feel a sense of loyalty to the company and what they’re doing,” pull out quote he says. Finding out what interests and motivates someone in your team can lead to the discovery of a wider set of skills and uncover latent talents – which benefits the individual and the company.
Being part a small or start-up company gives staff wider opportunities to explore their capabilities. They get opportunities to step into unfamiliar areas because that’s the nature of a growing business. As the Managing Director of Scope Strata, Steve is inevitably working company-wide – which he takes as an opportunity to lead by example. He encourages his staff to move out of their comfort zones and get involved in different aspects to broaden their skill-sets. This has the effect of motivating individuals and creating unexpected opportunities, plus the very practical advantage of providing cover for staff absences and times when priority projects need extra resources.
There are many ways to demonstrate how a company values and supports staff members. Steve used to shout the occasional staff breakfast at his previous company. Arranging friendly competitions between teams with token rewards is a simple way to show appreciation and build a friendly, supportive culture. “Only ever do this for fun,” says Steve. “Never for leverage, or to extract commitment or meet targets.” He believes that if a reward is expected or contingent on results, it loses its purpose immediately.
Another way is to notice genuine commitment and show appreciation. Steve has a staff member who recently stepped up, unasked, to complete a project in their own time. Knowing the person was a keen hunter, Steve gave them two paid days off for that express purpose “I didn’t want to take them for granted,” says Steve. For another staff member, suitable recognition could be a contribution to the cost of a study course or a gym membership. Finding out what satisfies a particular person and what motivates them means you can come alongside their interests, and get the best for them and your company.
There are other practical ways to make sure you have the level of employee support and input to maintain the vision and goals of your company. Make sure you continue to maintain relevant training and support. Make sure your staff are fluent in the legislative requirements particular to your business or industry (such as Unit Titles, H&S, fire safety, lease agreements). Scheduled weekly team meetings are the perfect opportunity to revisit and reassess company values, alert everyone to challenges, and craft ways to manage them. Meetings need to be clearly and positively open to staff input.
You can also put systems in place that reduce manual tasks and free staff up to be proactive in growth areas. Of course, most businesses go through ‘sufficing’ – i.e. being efficient, but making sacrifices along the way.
“You might want a state-of-the-art phone system with all the benefits that brings, but you have to settle for a comprehensive one so you can also have furniture and a sound IT system,” says Steve.
The same applies to balancing the risk of taking on new staff as you grow your business. Yes, there are costs involved, and there will be periods of time when you pay staff with no direct financial benefit. “But you need to build capacity into your business to cover sick days and holidays, and you can’t expect everyone to be running at 110% all the time,” says Steve. It’s vitally important to manage the company’s workload without compromising people’s ability to get the job done. New staff need to be front and centre of business forward planning and growth targets. Clients have an expectation on service delivery which can’t be compromised. “There’s always value in having long term capacity, because this is where your reputation will grow and that’s when your return will be fully realised.”