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I'll have to get a Tiara

Our Chairman, Andy Jervis, presents a report at our quarterly Group Manager Meetings. The latest meeting was held last week, and we thought you would be interested to read his comments.

This week I had the pleasure of presenting a card and gift to Juliet, marking her 10-year work anniversary. It’s pleasing to note that, whilst Juliet hasn’t changed a bit since the day she started, in developmental terms she’s come on a very long way in that time, from an Administrator role to helping to manage her Team. She’s a great asset to our business.

Juliet commented on how the business had grown over her time, from 16 to the current 63 on our combined staff list. A lot of this growth has come quite recently, with nearly 60% of those staff having been with us for less than 4 years. However, the figures also show that we’ve been pretty good at retaining people for a long time, with 9 staff over 10 years' service (some well over 10 years!) excluding directors, and a further 16 with 5-10 years.

I think that I will soon be feeling like the Queen signing longevity telegrams to an increasing number of people each year. I’ll have to get a tiara.

I’ve also had some informal feedback from clients recently. On three separate occasions, I have been told how much clients have appreciated the service we have given them over very many years, and each time they mentioned what a lovely team we have, and what a delight it has been to work with them, or words to that effect.

There is clearly a correlation between staff longevity and client satisfaction, both of which are in all of our interests to cultivate. The truth is that this is a circular transaction – when we deal with lovely clients, it makes our work a pleasure, and this pleasure then reflects in the work that we do for them, meaning that they appreciate the service even more.

But of course, retaining great people on our Teams isn’t just about having a warm cosy feeling when dealing with our clients. It’s also about career development, support and communication, opportunities for advancement, good working conditions, good pay and excellent benefits. Most of all it’s about our culture, the way we treat each other, and the way we listen and respond to problems.

That’s why it’s vital that all of our managers stay close to their teams, understand their issues and help to work through problems. If I had been treated this way by my former employers many years ago, it’s quite likely that I would never have made the big step into self-employment and Chesterton House may never have existed.

When a business goes through a period of fast growth it’s really hard to keep all of these things functioning well, especially when managers themselves sometimes have personal issues of their own to deal with. Those are the times when great processes and sound delegation skills are invaluable, as well as the ability to share problems and pull together to provide support. We’ve needed to do that sometimes, and I hope that everyone who has been through a difficult time feels as though they have been supported along the way.

There is still much work to do on making our processes more efficient and finding ways to deliver our proposition more effectively. Continuing improvements to technology enable routine tasks to be automated and work to be streamlined, and having a philosophy of ‘continual improvement’ means that this work is just that – continual. However, all of the technology is of limited value in a business like ours if we cannot behave like the helpful, listening, understanding, co-operative and knowledgeable people that we all are.

Keep up the good work.


Chairman of Chesterton House


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