I founded Fleximize with my business partner in 2014. Three years later, we have grown from four employees to a team of more than 40, with eight members of our core staff having followed me from my last company. The miracles that these employees performed meant I had no hesitation in bringing them to Fleximize. Not only are they a group that I trust with my life, but that trust is repaid with their commitment to the company and, by extension, to me.
My experience has taught me that loyalty is key to building a healthy business. When staff turnover costs British businesses a whopping £4.13 billion every year, and with new employees taking up to eight months to reach optimum productivity levels, it’s crucial to keep your best people for longer.
Fleximize is still relatively small, which means people generally have a good idea of what’s going on most of the time. However, where possible, I prefer to inform everyone of any major developments, instead of them hearing it from someone else. Keeping employees in the dark is likely to have a detrimental effect on morale. To promote and maintain an open company culture I have regular catch-ups with all departments, and encourage everyone to give me their input on new product ideas or a significant change to company processes.
While I appreciate it’s important to have clear lines of authority and responsibility in a business, I would never want my employees to see that as a reason not to approach me with an idea or concern. So, unless I have something confidential to discuss, my door is literally always open. I also like to get involved with office ‘banter’, which is invaluable when building a rapport. It shows that I’m still human, and not someone to fear at the office.
Learning to delegate is another important part of leadership. It can often be difficult for a business owner to let go, especially when they’ve invested a lot of time and money. But there will come a point when you have no option but to hand over some responsibilities.
I’m no expert in marketing, technology or accounting. That’s why I took the time to find the best people possible to take care of these, and other, critical business functions. It allows me to focus on strategy, operations and product development, comfortable in the knowledge that other parts of the business are in safe hands.
While there are some functions that can’t be fulfilled outside of the office, I’m also happy for my team to work from home. Allowing a certain degree of flexibility in employees’ working patterns is less about boosting productivity and more about improving or maintaining staff morale. Of course this can make employees more productive, but displaying empathy to an employee’s personal circumstances will more than likely see them give something back, namely their loyalty and dedication to the cause.
Ultimately, a happy workforce tends to translate into a successful business, and employees are more likely to be happy and loyal if they feel like they’re being looked after by the people ‘at the top’.
I won’t ever claim to be the perfect leader. For one thing, I still spend too much time talking and too little time listening. However, the very beauty of leadership is that you’re constantly learning new things about yourself.
Peter Tuvey is co-founder and managing partner of Fleximize