Communication, trust and remote working in times of crisis
Good news stories from the Investors in People community
Each week during the Covid-19 lockdown, Investors in People have chosen to feature an organisation from their community that they deem to ‘be finding a way to thrive’ against all odds. As an Investors in People Platinum Awarded company, Composite Profiles was one of the first to be in the spotlight ……. Read the Investors in People’s article here or continue below:
How has the Covid-19 outbreak impacted them?
Composite Profiles faced the challenge of having to make a rapid shift to home working for their office-based teams. While flexible working had been previously encouraged, this would be the first time everyone would be working from home. In addition to this, Composite Profiles also had to decide the action to take for the teams who work beyond the office, in construction sites throughout the UK.
How did Composite Profiles rise to the challenge?
In Mark Norton’s (Managing Director) statement to stakeholders, the key message was ‘People First – Always’. This truly has been the cornerstone of Composite Profiles’ response to Covid-19.
Remote working preparation at Composite Profiles began in the weeks before the official instruction to lockdown. Arrangements were made so everything was in place for people to work from home if they needed to; each of the team was risk-assessed and those who were most vulnerable were identified. Composite Profiles were ready to respond before the announcement was made. In the following days, many of the construction projects their site teams were working on closed, and the decision was taken to temporarily suspend site operations in order to review working procedures – putting safety of the team first.
‘People First – Always’. This truly has been the cornerstone of Composite Profiles’ response to Covid-19
Communication has also been one of the key areas of focus for Mark during this time. The team have a commitment to being open, honest and transparent in an environment of mutual respect. Leaders admit to not knowing all the answers and are open about finding this time difficult too, as they balance work priorities with the demands of being at home (and home-schooling). This shone through in their ‘Home Working – Hints, Tips and Expectations’ document shared early on with the team, which included advice such as ‘Trust in yourself and others’. Openness to flexibility and appreciation for the potential challenges of those with children at home was also shown, as people were told to discuss alternative hours with their manager if it would help – but ultimately ‘we trust you to make these decisions’.
When asked how the newly remote team was being managed, Mark said ‘trust is key for remote working ……not getting it right all the time is fine’ and highlighted the importance of ‘checking in’ rather than ‘checking up’ – the emphasis should be on that person and whether they need support.
Trust is key for remote working ……not getting it right all the time is fine. It’s important to ‘check in’ rather than ‘check up’
During this period, collaboration and building team spirit (one of the organisation’s values) has continued, encouraged by everyone in the organisation. Existing Slack channels have been adapted to encourage people to share funny content or what they are up to – whether it’s learning to back-flip (staged!) or showcasing a new garden project. As well as the daily team meetings, the whole organisation get together for a virtual coffee break every Wednesday. Increasing the time available for the team to mix, albeit virtually, has meant better mutual understanding of roles across the organisation, and will be something Composite Profiles continue with beyond the current crisis. Shared challenges have also brought the team closer. Beccy Brown, Marketing Manager, commented that the struggle to become familiar with remote working technology had been a big unifier, as whether young, old, site or non-site, they were all learning something new.
How have Composite Profiles looked after the wellbeing of their team?
One of the key actions is for the senior leadership team to meet every day at 8AM to discuss the wellbeing of the team as a priority. Any risks to people in the team are also addressed as a priority, before moving to key updates and the financial position. The internal team of Mental Health First Aiders are available to anyone who needs support or signposting and are referenced in the home working guide. Recognition and feedback have continued despite Covid-19 disruption. Composite Profiles use an ‘Appreciation Tree’ where people put comments thanking team members for their efforts in ‘pockets’ on the tree, an idea put in place by the Recognition and Reward Champion. This has been taken virtual and has been a great way of continuing to recognise the efforts of the team.
The Practitioner’s perspective
Investors in People Practitioners are more than an ‘in and out’ consultant. They are passionate about supporting the organisations they partner with. Here’s what Jonathan Saunders, the Practitioner for Composite Profiles has to say:
“When I came in again to see Composite Profiles earlier this year for their assessment, I could see the leaders in the business had gone the extra mile – and some! – to bring in ideas that respect and value their people.”
One of the things that shines through at Composite Profiles is the belief that new ideas deliver excellence. As Mark states in the Welcome Pack for new joiners, ‘Excellence is not about radical changes but about accruing small improvements over time’. I think this culture of innovation and willingness to try new things has proved useful to Composite Profiles during this time.
When visiting the offices, it was clear that there was a lot of ‘natural’ collaboration across the business, with people coming together in structured ways (e.g. workshops) but also as part of the fabric of day to day. It’s great to hear that this has proved to be a strong foundation which has now been built on with people out of the office.
Trust and Empowerment
There is a clear culture of entrusting and relying on people, and ‘Building Trust’ is one of Composite Profiles’ values. There is no great sense of hierarchy or power. From MD to the newest worker all opinions, views and ideas are valued.
‘Excellence is not about radical changes but about accruing small improvements over time’