Peter Russian, the Chief Executive of Re:markable, a leading management consultancy, speaks to H&E North about team building and boosting employee productivity.
Hi Peter, tell us about yourself and your career so far.
I have been Chief Executive at Re:markable, formerly known as Investors in People Scotland, since 2003. I’ve worked in this area for nearly 20 years, so it’s in the blood now, and the challenge feels as fresh as it did back in 1997 when I started at Investors in People UK. It feels a long way from Sheffield Polytechnic, where I studied Public Administration and the struggle of finding a job in the early 1990s recession.
What’s made me stay is the belief that we can make a big difference. We help businesses become more effective and successful. We create workplaces where people can thrive and flourish and in the bigger picture we’re helping to support economic growth.
What services does Re:markable offer?
Our core belief is that businesses are more successful when they develop their people, and give staff more control over their work. The old rules that you can order people to do something – however nicely you do it – are redundant and our job is to help companies respond and create the environment in which the customer has a great experience, because employees have a great experience. Essentially most challenges which companies face come down to a question about people and that’s where we come in.
We work with a range of organisations in the events and hospitality industry – from independent suppliers and creative centres to global hotel chains. No two organisations are the same so we provide tailored consultancy, support and accreditations and work to understand specific needs.
Tell us about the recent re-brand.
We got to the point where our organisation name no longer reflected the services we offer. We’re deeply committed to Investors in People because we know the difference it makes, and it will continue to be a key part of what we do, but our new brand gives us a new home for the increasingly diverse service offering.
We wanted a new name that would stand out and say something about our ambition, and the contribution we want to make. In some ways it’s a rallying call – who doesn’t want to be remarkable? Remarkable also reflects what we do. We know from research by the University of Glasgow that we make a marked difference to businesses.
What advice would you give to employers in regards to improving productivity and performance?
First, make your people your number one priority, full stop. The most important relationship in your business is the one between your people and your customers and so you should be relentless in making sure it’s a great one. Whether it’s the chef preparing food in the restaurant, the receptionist as the face of your business, or the cleaner whose attention to detail makes the difference between satisfaction and complaint, it’s your responsibility to create the environment which enables them to be the best they can be.
What tips do you have for boosting health and wellbeing in offices?
Healthy businesses are more likely to be successful than unhealthy businesses. There are lots of factors which impact on someone’s health and wellbeing, and what happens at work can be surprisingly important.
A lot of stress comes from difficult working relationships caused by managers who prefer to shout and dictate rather than take the time to support and encourage, and from being asked to achieve unrealistic tasks when they know there’s a better way to do it.
You can do lots of things which help individuals become healthier themselves. It might be providing fresh fruit, helping people quit smoking, or encouraging people to walk or take a bike to work.
Why should employers invest in team building?
Team building doesn’t need to involve expensive days out. We recently volunteered at a local farm, painting the sheep shed, weeding and tidying up the paths. The away day tested our skills as a team, our resilience and how we worked together and, most importantly, it was about spending time together. It even tested our innovation skills – what is the best way for eight people to paint a sheep shed in an organised fashion? We also learned to be inclusive – who dislikes heights and doesn’t want to climb the ladder to paint? Who has a bad back and can’t bend to weed? A team is not a group of people who work together – it’s a group of people who trust each other.
Peter Russian reveals what to think about when looking after a team…
How much time am I spending looking after my people? Do I know what makes them happy at work and what’s making them frustrated? If you don’t think that’s your job don’t be too surprised if they’re not doing what you want them to do.
Do people feel valued for their contribution?
We know that many hospitality businesses want to pay people more but find it hard to do so. What makes a difference on a day-to-day basis is whether people feel that their contribution is recognised. As Sir Alex Ferguson said, the most important two words that a leader uses are “well done”.
Do you give people responsibility and control?
With customers able to take to social media to tell the world about their experience in your business, you need to trust people to make the right decisions for the customer. The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.
For more information, visit Thisisremarkable.com.