Insights is a company that’s growing fast. In the last few years we’ve recruited around 130 people. We’re already too big to fit into the office space we built just five years ago, thinking it would last us many, many years.
We’re all busy, almost all of the time. It can all feel somewhat overwhelming – and interestingly, the concept of ‘overwhelm’ is a hot topic amongst HR professionals; the pace of change, the sheer pace of our daily lives. The meetings, the decisions, the ever-growing inbox.
The question is whether we are focusing our energies on the right things in the right way or are we simply being busy fools? The success or failure of a company is directly linked to how we manage and lead our people and yet many mangers and leaders struggle to give the right amount of time to their people. According to a survey by research firm Leadership IQ, the optimum time for a manager to spend with those she leads is six hours per week. Employees who get six hours of their manager’s time are 29% more inspired, 30% more engaged and 16% more innovative than those who only spend one hour with their manager in a working week.
I think those are some pretty amazing stats; who doesn’t want inspired, engaged, innovative people? And as a leader, they’re also quite frightening, for how can I possibly give each of my team members six hours of my time each week? I would never have time to sleep, never mind get through some emails!
Well thankfully, the time you spend with your team doesn’t have to be one on one. You simply have to be ‘interacting’. And that comforts me, because I know that, at Insights, if we don’t yet manage to provide that level of attention for everyone, we are at least holding it as a goal and an ideal. (Interestingly, according to Leadership IQ, if you spend more than six hours with your team they don’t get any more benefit – they may even start to feel micromanaged and therefore less motivated)
So in this period of intense growth, how do our leaders give their teams the attention they deserve? Well, in a number of ways.
Recently Insights’ CEO Andy and I held a meeting for all of our newest staff members. It wasn’t formal, there was no agenda. It was a cup of tea, some pastries and a chance for us all just to chat, ask questions and get to know each other a little better. It was really well received, and we’re going to make sure we do it more.
Leaders need as much attention as those they lead, and we don’t take them for granted. This year has seen the launch of our Leadership Intensives, where leaders go on retreat for a week, and take the time to really focus on themselves and their development. Investing in our leaders is not a nice to have, it’s key to the future of our business. And to those leaders who rarely focus on themselves because they are so focused on supporting their teams, I say a heartfelt thank you. I hope the experience recharged you and enriched you.
Insights has a really robust performance review programme. What it absolutely is not is a tick box exercise or a mechanism for performance managing people in the traditional HR sense. It’s called My Journey, and a journey is exactly what it is.
My Journey is a framework to encourage our people to engage with their managers regularly to discuss their personal journeys with Insights, reflecting on how they are learning and contributing to the business. It is also used to encourage a sense of belonging and to make sure they are enjoying the experience with us and having some fun. The formal part of the framework requires a check in at least once a quarter, and the strength of My Journey is that our people are being nurtured and developed to realise their potential through having authentic conversations. It is our commitment to ensuring we spend time with our people.
Yes, these things are sometimes difficult to find the time for, hard to prioritise and even costly. But what other priority could we possibly have, if not our people? They have built our business from its very beginnings, they are working phenomenally hard for the business of today, and they will be integral to the business of tomorrow. They’re worth it.