DO we actually know our staff?

Recently, I held a series of staff forums titled Customer First. These meetings were held off site at the Hotel Du Vin in Poole, who accommodated us very well. The staff gave up their own time to attend.

The theme was to get some ideas as to how the staff see customer expectations and demands for the future growth of the JLR group and how the Westover name can maintain and deliver the high standards we try to reach.

The staff were given the freedom to let us know of any concerns and dislikes about their working environment and talk about one another’s strong and weak points.

Not such a good idea, I hear you thinking. Well actually I was taken aback by the professionalism shown by everyone, from the car cleaners to the technicians to the back room staff.

The suggestions made for our future business demonstrated to me the loyalty shown to the company and to the brand.

The most important lesson I have learnt from these sessions is that you can’t know everything and you can’t control everything.

What works is having a team of like-minded people, with a range of expertise and knowledge and who all share the same values in life. For me it’s the traditional values that matter most.

In the top four would be flexibility, the ability to adapt to changing priorities, particularly when you are working in a customer-facing role. Next would be accountability – always striving to do the right thing and fulfilling promises.

This is closely followed by integrity, being open and honest and true to yourself, as well as always striving to treat people the way you would like to be treated. Then there’s humour. Even in the most challenging times, sometimes you just need to be able to see the lighter side.

Having a strong team ethos is also very important, and is paramount when delivering front line services. Having people working with you who are enthusiastic, committed and demonstrate a can-do attitude helps build lasting customer partnerships.

Businesses need to value experience and loyalty in their people and where appropriate maintain a flexible attitude to all employees.

I am a great believer in making every effort to develop home grown talent. Nurturing and promoting existing staff that have the ability and aptitude to succeed is rewarding and helps to maintain a high staff retention rate.

This in turn leads to greater business stability and higher levels of customer satisfaction.