Why I Started the People Team
This year M5 Networks is launching an initiative to extend the competitive advantage we gain from M5’s unique culture. We’ve dedicated a team, reporting to the CEO, to further deepen our commitment to our core values. The M5 People team is a group dedicated to creating an environment of open, honest and direct communication for staff at every level. Focused on employee engagement, the M5 People Team, led by Chief Learning Officer, Heather Bennett, will use fun and creative ways to foster a work culture that supports our staff to help everyone meet their personal and professional goals
Putting employees first is a secret well known to many of the world’s best service brands. It is a surprisingly controversial notion. I’m often asked, “ Shouldn’t the customer come first?” No. Not if you want to provide the best possible customer experience. I’ll explain.
Just before takeoff on every flight passengers are given safety instructions. One of these instructions goes something like this, “If there is a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend. Secure your own mask before helping others.” If you think about it, that’s a hard instruction to follow, especially if you are sitting next to the world’s most precious four year old (yours). Isn’t it selfish to take care of me first? Do the airlines value able bodied people more than the young, disabled or elderly? Of course not. The logic is simple; you can’t effectively help anyone if your own urgent need for oxygen isn’t met. Likewise, employees who are unhappy, over-stressed or even board will not have the energy and creativity necessary to assist and delight our customers.
Here are a few examples of how the M5 People team will ensure that the needs of our employees are well met, and how they tie to our core values
- Learn – We believe that learning is a team sport and that every hour invested in a good learning program pays for itself in productivity. We also believe that learning shouldn’t be limited to ideas directly related to one’s job. Learning anything new, like an instrument or a sport, reminds us of our capacity to achieve something unexpected. Getting learning right is the CEO’s wish for more wishes. It is the secret to scaling. We grew 53% last year. That means we need to ramp ourselves, and our business partners. “Ramp,” is management jargon for “learn.”
- Be Honest – Ideas – For most of us, being heard is an urgent need. That’s why we’ve launched the M5 Ideas portal. A place where the entire staff can submit thoughts on how to improve our products, processes and workplace. This isn’t a black hole suggestion box, but an active space where ideas are sorted, promoted and enacted.
- Take Responsibility – Management Training – Too often people become are promoted to management because they are really good at their job, but they aren’t offered the opportunity to learn how to be an outstanding manager. Every person at M5 who manages people, starting with me, will receive structured training and will attend a monthly gathering to discuss issues and share ideas with other managers. As David Sirota said, “The key question is not how to motivate employees, but how to sustain – and prevent management from destroying – the motivation that employees naturally bring to their jobs.”
- Active Help. – We value providing help beyond just our clients or our company. M5 has always encouraged community service. Future programs will make it possible for every employee in the company to participate in company sponsored community service programs. Giving back is part of the M5 Experience.
M5 is committed to providing an experience that businesses love. In order to deliver on that promise, we must have a work place that employees love. This doesn’t happen by accident. That’s why we are putting in place our People organization and backing it up with the executive support, budget and enthusiasm it deserves.