28 August, 2013

10 years of dating: Our team are born and not created

Every so often, something happens that makes you think really hard about the decisions that you’ve made and the knock-on effects that they have on your life. This week, I had one of those moments.

As usual, I made my way through the inevitable Windsor road works to arrive at the office, which was already starting to fill up, around 8am. That’s when it suddenly struck me what it is we have at Global Personals.

It wasn’t the fact that we have a very successful, homegrown business, nor was it the fact that we have weathered a lot of storms over the years. It wasn’t even anything to do with me nearly getting killed in the stampede for free breakfast. It’s that we have surrounded ourselves with a group of passionate people who really care about what they do; a group of people who desire a challenge and want to be pushed - those people are rare and hard to find.

That culture started early on in the businesses development and over the years has filtered through from manager to manager, from team to team, to the point that you could almost say Global Personals staff are born and not created.

I still have the pleasure of attending the odd interview for new staff (if the hiring manager trusts me enough not to scare them off) and I am forever astounded by how many candidates just don’t come up to scratch. They are all nice, credible candidates but they lack just that little something. Yes, I could probably run 100 metres (just) but would I do it as well as an Olympian? The same goes for the candidates. Yes, they could do the job, but could they smash it? To quote one of our most successful (and outspoken) partners, are they the ‘Crème brulee’?

For that reason, it’s always viewed as a pretty big deal when someone new starts at Global Personals. They become part of the family; part of what makes us what we are. Only when you have that culture can you go on to achieve true success in what you do. Looking back, our heavy focus on recruiting the right people in the early days gave us a great springboard to transition from debt ridden start-up to not so debt ridden start-up.

Of course, in order to continue to be successful, things need to change and the people need to change with them - gone are the days of the laid back interview in the café down the road and letting the whole company finish early because we smashed the £1000 in one day cash target! Now we have 24 hour a day, 365 days a year support and monitoring services, alongside a clearly structured HR process to dot the I’s and cross the T’s - all changes we have embraced to allow us to continue to grow and get even better at what we do.

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Ten years ago, we had an idea and, confidence and the will to succeed aside, not a lot more than that. Now, we still have a lot of ideas but we also have a lot more than we started out with; we have people to help us execute them and share the success they bring.

When it came to writing this blog post, I thought I would conduct a small experiment. I took a handful of post-it notes (you can see my technical background coming into play here) and gave them to someone we’ll call my ‘Fixer’. I asked my Fixer to distribute these to random people at all levels across the business, giving them thirty seconds to write one word that summed up Global Personals. Oddly enough, some of the post-its I got back were a different colour to those I gave out - things do change quickly here (so do spelling mistakes!). I must say that I was a little worried about what I’d get back, but it seems we fared pretty well.

According to the people who make this business what it is, we are:

Ambitious (x2), intense, stimulating, driven, dynamic, innovative, bizarre and dominating (take that last one as you will!).

A great group of words from a not so scientific test! I hope that gives a good flavour of the way people view this wonderful place.

We pride ourselves with a culture of transparency, openness and fairness and always work hard to ensure that our teams have a voice to feel included in the decisions we make. Recruitment and retention have become as important to us as profit and loss and we have come to realise that without one, you can’t have the other.

The last ten years have taught me a lot and I am sure the next ten will teach me even more. But what will never change for me is that people are led by people - led well through like and respect. Being a senior member of staff at Global Personals is not an excuse for making other people do your work for you (unless its handing out post-it notes!). It’s about motivating the less experienced, and sometimes less confident than you, to do their job well and encouraging them to succeed. They are, after all, tomorrow’s managers and directors.

So ten years on, this is where we are. You’re probably wondering why I haven’t gone into detail about our revenue figures and aggressive growth into new territories but frankly, without our team, there would be no revenue and no expansion - I’ll leave all of that for another day.

On a final note, I’d like to finish off with ten years worth of thank you’s to each and every single person who has helped us get this far... now stop reading blogs and get back to work.

Steve Pammenter, COO & Co-founder, WhiteLabelDating.com

Tags:  Industry

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