In February we held one of our periodic Group Managers' Days, at which our management team comes together (virtually on this occasion) to update each other on departmental progress and share ideas.
A key part of our business success has been in evolving a shared vision across our Group, and we've invested in training and resources over the years to achieve that. We're delighted to have engaged Rachael Hurdman of Arch Inspire Ltd to lead us in the next stage of this process, and Rachael took us through a series of exercises during the day that were really helpful in fleshing out and embracing our vision for the future of our businesses.
Andy Jervis, our Chairman, produced his report in advance of the meeting to set the scene for the day, and below is an edited version of it. We hope you enjoy reading it.
I remember Paul Etheridge, founder of the Institute of Financial Planning, telling me that ‘relationships are never static, they are always either improving or deteriorating’. This is true whether the relationship is with a client, a colleague or a family member, all of which need to be regularly nurtured if they are to thrive.
But what is a relationship anyway? How would you define what constitutes a relationship between two sentient beings?
I would suggest that all relationships are based on feelings. A relationship exists because you feel that it does, and you feel a connection to another person as a result of some shared experience or commonality. Sometimes you don’t even need to have met the person concerned, simply knowing their story and feeling that they have some understanding of what you have gone through is enough to create a bond.
Adversity can be a crucible for forming strong bonds that can last a lifetime. People who have gone through life-threatening situations together, such as in wartime, often have unshakeable relationships as a result.
In our personal lives, sharing the highs and lows of marriage, childbirth, career changes, moving home and other significant events can deepen and solidify the bonds of relationship between partners.
At other times, relationships build slowly, piece by piece, based on joint endeavour or common purpose. Regular interactions lead to familiarity, and over time that familiarity results in trust being given and received, and the relationship continues to grow.
The events of the last 12 months have provided huge opportunity to reach out to others, let them know that they are not forgotten, and improve our relationships yet further. It is clear from my discussions with our teams that we have been able to do this both internally and externally, and the spirit and enthusiasm displayed by team members as well as our clients is a great testament to all of the work that has been done by each of you over the last year in this respect.
It is often said that trust takes time to build, and that people will only learn to trust each other over a period of time and in the light of their experience, especially in a business context. This is a false assumption.
In the work that we do with our clients in each of our areas of expertise, we have the opportunity to engage with people at a deep and meaningful level, often at a time of change in their lives. By demonstrating that we have taken time to understand their situation and their emotions, put their needs before our own, and be a guide through difficult times, people will offer us their trust rapidly and enter into long-term relationships with us based on the feelings that are generated as a result of our interactions with them.
Once we have gained an individual’s trust, our focus should be on continuing to improve the relationship and avoid creating circumstances where it can be allowed to deteriorate. This is a tall order for any business, never mind an individual, and it requires continual work. The good news is that, through a combination of personal skills and effective systems, it is possible to achieve and to maintain relationships that last for lifetimes.
Understanding how to do this, and how to continue to build a business that delivers these outcomes, has been an object of focus, either directly or indirectly, for a long time now. It’s a never ending journey, and one that every single member of our teams needs to be engaged with. It's about a relentless pursuit of excellence, high standards of integrity and knowledge, and regular touchpoints with the people we serve that acknowledge their individual concerns and worries and share in their successes and triumphs.
That’s why I’m delighted that at this Group Managers Day Rachael will be taking us through a process designed to focus on our vision and beliefs as part of a broader training programme for all of our managers. The feelings of trust, shared experience and mutual understanding apply just as much to each member of our team in their day-to-day work as they do to our interactions with our clients. The work that Rachael will be doing with everyone is a valuable step in continuing to develop our vision, and will directly and indirectly impact on all of our relationships.
I know that all of our managers have enthusiastically embraced the value of this training and are looking forward to getting started. Our desire as a business to grow and progress whilst maintaining the quality of our relationships is high. Let's get stuck in!
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