I am meant to be doing something else, but can’t as I have just had the best day for a very long time! I have to write this down so maybe other people can see the value of trust, and so I can remember it in days, weeks and years to come!
Today I went to interview for some new Area Managers in our London office. We have steadily been growing our force for some time, and have now got to a size where Area Managers were necessary. We advertised in all the usual places for such a job, and if we had gone along the normal interview routine, we would have been finished by lunchtime. However…
Today was different. We needed to make sure we got the best possible people from the very high quality candidates who applied. We did three things. We got them all together in a room, and gave them a ‘Survival Challenge’ – you may have heard of this before, and it is an excellent ice-breaker which also shows a lot about the dynamics of a team. Essentially, a plane has crashed in Canada, it is snowing and cold, and you have twelve things to collect before you get out of the plane. There is a right and wrong answer, but no-one who was evaluating the process cared about it. The fascinating thing was to watch how people put themselves forward in a group where no leader had been designated.
At the end of this, we sent people off with a challenge. To come back after the interviews and lunch with a plan. They had to make a commitment, put timescales and resources behind it, and then they would have five minutes to present it.
Next we did the interviews (well, we have to be slightly conformist!).
Now for the presentations. We decided at last minute to keep the presentations on an individual basis (ie not to the rest of the interviewees), as we really wanted to get to the real person. And the results were amazing. Not one of the presentations were bad, and every single one brought forward fresh new ideas. The best thing, and the thing I will remember for a long time, is that we gave each of these people power. We had set no boundaries at all, allowing them to be as creative as they wanted to be, and they were. It was like turning on a lightbulb – they had energy, enthusiasm and zeal. All of them had costed ideas, had worked out what needed to be done and presented back in ways that we would expect an Area Manager to present. As a result, we will have no problem getting three good Area Managers, we are spoilt for choice.
I have always tried to give as much freedom to my staff as possible, and have seen results over the long term. But today, I saw results in hours.