The key ingredient in an office full of happy, motivated people

How do you create a team that’s highly motivated, delivering excellent work and is absolutely in it for the long run? It’s all about autonomy according to Luke Kyte, Head of Culture and Business Improvement at Reddico. He would know: the digital marketing agency was placed in the top 10 of the UK’s Best Workplaces by The Telegraph. He tells the Mindlab Academy how the company empowers team members every day.

Step 1. Decide to change

“We regularly carry out NPS surveys for our clients and when we tested out this approach with the team, we suddenly realised we could do better. A score of 45 might officially be “good” but it wasn’t the standard we wanted it to be.”

Step 2. Identify the real issues

“We offered all the usual things that suggest a good place to work – free food, beanbags, a table tennis table, socials and so on. But we realised it’s not what you give people for free that matters. It’s how you free people to give more.

“When we looked into what was causing people frustration, it became clear that people were not being treated equally. Some line managers were allowing flexibility, letting people work from home or start later. Others weren’t.

“This micro-management wasn’t what we wanted as we grew the business. To help us succeed and for everyone to be happy, the team needed to become more self-regulated, with individuals acting as if they were business owners.”

Step 3. Take clear action

“The senior team wrote a manifesto outlining how we would become a great place to work by giving people autonomy and freedom. Over six months, we started to roll out changes to enable this.

“We began to offer unlimited leave. People can now work the hours where they are most productive, or that fit best around their family life. They can work from home whenever they want. They have more control over their salary, applying for increases to a salary panel rather than individual line managers. In fact, line managers have been scrapped altogether and people now set their own targets and can choose a coach to mentor and motivate them.

“The one condition to all this freedom? Not having a negative impact on the team or clients. And it really works.”

Step 4. Measure it

“Since we launched this new way of working, our internal NPS has skyrocketed from 45 to 96, but so too has our client NPS, increasing from 57 (excellent) to 81 (world-class). Team retention is up, the number of sickness days has fallen and 2018, when we started the changes, was our most profitable year ever. So far in 2019, every single month year on year is better for both revenue and profit.”

Step 5. Lead strongly while not assuming you have all the answers

“Success for us came from the senior team setting an example about how to behave. It has to start at the top but it then has to be developed by the team. We realised as we went through the process that we didn’t have all the answers and had to get the whole team to develop solutions together. We also spoke to other organisations going through similar changes to learn from each other.”

Step 6. Celebrate

“When you’re in an organisation, it’s easy to forget how good you’ve got it. So we take the time to celebrate our culture and how self-regulation has helped us all to excel in the areas we are passionate about.”

“Ironically, when the manifesto was first rolled out, I was one of the people that didn’t believe that developing this seemingly utopian environment was going to work. How could we regulate it, especially as we grew? But the experience has been incredible and people are now able to work to their potential everyday. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

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