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5. Engaging our People - Shane's Story

Sept 11 2001

We arrived in London on the morning Sept 11, having flown from New York the previous night. It was a beautiful autumn day as we hit the streets and started the shops. Around midday, cell phones starting ringing. Josie’s daughter called from her home in London and told us the news. It shook us. The previous day I’d debated taking Josie up to the viewing platform on the 110th floor of Tower 2. It had been her first time in the city but we’d run out of time. I rang Lou at home and told her to turn on TV. She’d planned to fly up that day and join us in Italy. After little debate we cancelled her trip. The world had changed.

A Calling

9/11 sobered me, seemed to give me more empathy. How could people be so disillusioned they resorted to this? It got me looking for ways to put more positivity into the world… and create more joy and happiness at work. How could we better engage our people and those we touched?

What’s a Health Check on your Business?

Two years later I was at a conference for business owners and a Human Resources guy was speaking. I’d always been dismissive of the need for HR in an organization but what he said intrigued me. “The best thing you can do is take a health check from your people, get some 360 degree feedback on what it’s like to work in your company?’ A month later I gave the guy a project to do just that.

The Painful Truth

We asked everyone in the stores and support office to fill out an anonymous survey with 10 simple questions. What came back concerned me. While there was some good stuff… we were very goal orientated and people knew what they had to achieve, there wasn’t a lot of joy or recognition for a job well done. Something had to be done…

Launching our Values

Michele joined us in early 2004 as People and Development Manager and the first thing she did was ask everyone in the organization what our Values should be. She explained “Values guide us in every day action and how we should treat each other” We started with a list of around 50 words and netted them down to the 6 values we live and breathe today.

New Pride

Unlike other companies we discuss and celebrate our values constantly. Each week we receive over 100 values nominations from all corners of our company and publish and distribute them for all to see. I believe this focus on values has built our culture of engagement. We use them in our every-day language. I take great pride that we’ve been a finalist in the annual New Zealand Best Work Place Awards ever since, and have won this prestigious award several times.

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