Recently an article appeared in my LinkedIn feed titled “11 habits of amazing bosses”. I was really interested to see how my management style compares to these 11 habits, not just because I’m a “boss” ( I never use that term anyway) but having always held certain values with regard to how I manage people. As it turns out I was reading through the list with a general feeling that they were all things I genuinely try and do with the team at PurpleFire.
True to our brand values (of being open and transparent) along with our continuous recruitment drive due to the business growing considerably, I thought I would produce this post explaining what my values and approaches are to managing and building a great team.
If you are considering applying for one of our Conversion Optimisation Strategist roles I hope the following 11 points provide you with a really good understanding of the management style you could experience if you joined PurpleFire.
Table of contents:
11 Values That Are Helping Me Build A Great Team
1) Everyone should be given the platform & opportunity to reach their full potential
When I look back to when I was last employed back in 2006, the last 5 years of being managed represented the complete opposite of this. In fact, this was probably the biggest motivating factor for me to spread my wings and work for myself full-time.
If you’d like to find out a bit more on this then story 2 from my “9 years, 9 stories, 9 business lessons” presentation will do just that.
2) Find opportunities for team members to be stretched and given greater responsibility
This is in many ways related to point one. I can’t describe the satisfaction I get from seeing one of my colleagues deliver something or do something which they have never experienced before. One example from years ago was with a brilliant developer I employed, who as per the stereotype wasn’t the most extrovert of people. He certainly wouldn’t be seen standing up in front of a group of strangers presenting. Within 12 months of working with me, and with him having seen how I go about both planning to present and actually presenting, he took up his first speaking gig. As it turned out the keynote speaker traveling up from London had to cancel at the last minute so he ended up filling in this slot (and very confidently too) – that for me was just the icing on the cake.
3) Have complete trust in new team members straight away
At PurpleFire we have a thorough recruitment process, which allows candidates a range of opportunities to demonstrate their passion, expertise, personality, qualities, and own values.
By going through this process, when new people join I’m the first one to look for opportunities for them to get thrown in at the deep end, knowing how much confidence I have gained in their abilities during the recruitment process.
One example of this is when Sophia joined, her first project was probably one of the most in-depth user research projects we’d ever delivered. Think cross-device, multi-channel, online & offline customer experience user testing for one of the world’s biggest financial institutions. This project was one of the most valuable and business-changing projects we have delivered and one on which I had the pleasure of working with Sophia as project support.
4) Be a mentor to team members, allowing them to fast-track their careers
At the time of writing, I have been working in the industry for 16 years, during which time my on-the-job training has provided me with a wealth of experience which is invaluable to my role in leading PurpleFire. This experience has also given me a wide range of opportunities to speak at conferences, train a huge number of people from major brands and be a key contributor to the well-respected Econsultancy blog.
When new people come into the business, one of my primary aims is to mentor and support them in effectively fast-tracking their careers. One example of this is that it took me about 10 years to be invited to speak at my first conference. Matt our Head of Optimisation has been in the industry for around 4 years and he is already speaking at events, including our 2 invite-only events in 2014 alongside speakers including Chris Goward, one of the most respected optimization specialists in the world and someone who has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide.
5) Have complete trust in all team members to deliver to the highest standards
We set and strive for extremely high standards at PurpleFire and this has to start with me as both a manager and a practitioner. One of the first things I look for when we meet potential new colleagues is will they give me complete confidence that I can trust them to deliver work to an extremely high standard. As PurpleFire has grown significantly since 2012, it led me to the realisation that I can no longer do as much of the fun stuff as I used to but by having complete trust in my team to deliver work to the same high standards that I have, is of great benefit to both me and the team. As an aside, one of my primary aims as the business grows further is that I do still allocate time for me to do what I love best, being a practitioner.
6) Have an openness as to my vision for the business and how team members can support the growth
Working openly and transparently applies to a number of areas in the business, in particular how we work with our clients (“black box” certainly isn’t a term you’d associate with our approach), as well as how I run the business. I genuinely value the ideas the team has for how they can progress their careers and how the business can evolve and improve to provide an even better service for our clients.
This openness around my vision for the business and how the business is progressing is demonstrated in the monthly team breakfast sessions where I share everything from top-level commercial performance to new business opportunities, operational improvements, and marketing strategy developments with the whole team. It’s a great way to get buy-in from the whole team and we all work together to constantly improve the business.
7) Be a great listener and always be open to people’s suggestions
Over the years I have been working in this industry I have spent many hours listening to people. From users talking me through their experience browsing a website to clients explaining their pain points and how best PurpleFire can add value to their business. This genuine desire I have to be a great listener applies just as much to my approach within the business. Looking back over the last few years, some of the business’s most important and influential decisions have been influenced by one of the team and in some cases they came up with the suggestions entirely. Great ideas can come from anywhere and it’s important to listen to your team to ensure you don’t miss out.
8) Take responsibility when things don’t go to plan
Having spent many of the initial years running PurpleFire as a one-man band, I know only too well the consequences of my actions, both positive and negative. These experiences have meant that as I began bringing people into the business, I have always been completely comfortable in taking responsibility for when things perhaps don’t go to plan. The very thought of running a business that has a blame culture is simply not in my nature nor that of the team.
9) Provide constructive criticism when necessary
There are of course times (very few thankfully!) when I feel there are opportunities to improve an element of the team’s work, either collectively or individually. When these times do come around I always focus on providing constructive criticism so as not to make team members develop any negative feelings towards their roles and how they go about their day-to-day job.
When I think back to what has influenced the way I provide feedback, it probably has a lot to do with the many presentation sessions I have delivered to some of the world’s biggest brands where I’m sharing their recommendations for improving their online experience. Not being constructive in these situations would probably have seen me being frog-marched out of a client’s building – OK maybe that is going a bit too far, but you get the idea!
10) Encourage the 37-hour working week
Standard working hours at PurpleFire are 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Thursday, and 9 am – 4 pm on a Friday (a quick shout out to my previous employer Shop Direct who always had this policy which I loved and introduced at PurpleFire from day 1). I encourage my team to only work these standard hours and probably 98% of the time this is exactly what they do. I want my team to have a very healthy work/life balance and not feel like their job is consuming them. I get the feeling that they appreciate this as well as it resulting in high productivity time during our standard working hours.
11) Keep the team on their toes with a surprise or two
Another one of our four brand values is to “enjoy working together”. One of the ways is through team building activities and typically I like to surprise the team, it’s a great way to bring the team together. This perhaps went too far recently when Katie was desperate to find out what we would be doing and I responded to her with “I can give you this much. It will involve one of either snorkels or speedos”. The relief on her face when she realised it involved go-karting and then 10-pin bowling was a picture. She even did a little celebratory dance.
So there it is my list of 11 values and beliefs I genuinely live by as Founder & Director of Optimisation at PurpleFire.
We are continually looking for the brightest and most ambitious people to join our team. If PurpleFiresounds like the type of business you would like to develop a career at, please take a look at our current job openings. We’d love to hear from you.