The best piece of advice I ever received in business was from a lady called Jayne Anne Gadhia who was my boss when I worked at the Virgin One Account.
It was her fundamental business belief that, if you managed your team so that you constantly developed them and promoted those team members who rose to the top, giving them more and more responsibility so they effectively did your job for you, then there would always be a bigger and better job waiting for you.
This was new to me, coming from a bank where to stick your head above the parapet was to have it neatly taken off. Here was Jayne Anne suggesting that I let someone else stick my head over the top. I didn’t think so!
A couple of months later I was called into Jayne Anne’s office. She started the conversation in typically direct manner. “You haven’t made any mistakes since you joined us”. I glowed, praise indeed from the CEO. Of course, I agreed wholeheartedly with her. “Well, will you clear off and make some so I know you’re developing yourself and your team!” End of meeting.
I was running a call centre at the time and have never been into training and certainly never considered it as a career, but now I began to pay attention. There were two very talented team managers in the call centre and I began to work with them in earnest. We spent time together understanding development needs, put training plans in place and coaching each other and our teams continuously.
It was when I went on holiday that I saw the wisdom of what Jayne Anne had said to me. I left the call centre in the capable hands of these two people and set them a series of challenges for the time I was away. When I got back every challenge had been met and exceeded…
And I was out of a job!
Jayne Anne was true to her word, though, and I discovered that Training and Development was what I wanted to do. I became the Head of Training.
I was thinking about this period of my life the other day and I realised what the development of my team allowed me and them to do. It’s nice to talk about ‘potential’ and ‘fulfillment’ and there was that. But there were real business benefits, too.
Having such a well developed team allowed me to concentrate on some of the bigger development issues faced by the call centre, knowing that the call centre was always well run by capable people. It also meant that staff turnover was lower and that recruitment was easier.
It kept me on my toes, too!