News Article

29 September 2008

Lunn's Create the "best" Defence against the Credit Crunch

The Key Ingredients of a Great Company Culture – Productivity and Employee Motivation

I have spent my working life trying to encourage companies to develop their cultures to maximise productivity. My usual way of doing this is to encourage them to create a culture that engages their employees, as engagement is the key to significant increases in productivity, profit, quality and customer satisfaction.

I have to confess that the culture change process for most companies is often difficult and costly in terms of the effort required. During the highs of an economic cycle, business leaders ask, “Why should we spend time and effort when things are going so well for us?” When times get harder, their riposte is usually something like, “We can’t afford to do anything radical!”

So, imagine my delight when – in the middle of the credit crunch - I was invited into Ireland’s premier jewellers to help develop their management structure and suggest ways of enhancing their culture. What I found was equally surprising - one of the very few truly motivational cultures I have ever encountered [- see here for more.]

Not surprisingly, on measuring motivational levels of all staff in the John H Lunn (Jeweller) Ltd business, who trade as Lunn’s The Jewellers, I discovered they had the most engaged staff I have ever encountered!

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Of course, company cultures such as this do not happen by accident but are usually the result of
(a) a combination of a dedicated business leader / entrepreneur at the helm of the business, and
(b) a lot of hard work by, typically, a few committed key players throughout the business who have grasped the vision of the leader.

Lunn’s fit this model in that Peter Lunn, Chairman, has over many years of hard work grown a very successful business and a culture that is based on maximising the contribution of employees by engaging them. Also, he has a dedicated group of key senior managers around him who have grasped his vision for developing the business.

Some Results Of Our Survey of the The Lunn’s Culture

Let me share with you just a couple of the specific results of our motivational surveys and other organisational assessment findings.

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● No wonder commercial records are being broken at Lunn’s new, prestigious Victoria Square, Belfast branch, where the whole team fall into the Value the Person’s “great” team category. The team scored at 60% proactive engagement, compared with a typical UK score of 17% engagement. The branch management team had taken the existing Lunn’s culture model to build a new team, the majority of whom were new recruits to the business.

● Some cynics may say that it is easy to create a great culture in a new venture, such as Victoria Square, with a new group of people and with some ‘switched on’ managers. And, of course, they are right to a certain extent, at least.

But the cynics will find it difficult to explain how Lunn’s can produce very similar results at a well-established neighbouring branch in Belfast – affectionately called “Lunn’s 2” in the company. Here the engagement levels amongst long service employees and managers were very similar to Victoria Square. Not surprisingly, commercial results for this branch are correspondingly above average for the sector.

What’s Lunn’s Secret in Creating A Commercially Successful Culture?

I have had the pleasure of talking to Peter Lunn [- the Chairman of this family run, Belfast based business] over the last few months and I have learned that there are really no ‘secrets’ to his success over many years. Often without being fully aware of using a particular management approach, he has done what successful organisations throughout the world are adept at:-
  • SELECTION
  • MANAGING
  • MOTIVATING, and
  • DEVELOPING

their employees for the commercial good of the business and, at the same time, creating a great place to work.

In fact, Peter would say that he has grown the business in ways which have come naturally to him, namely:
- selecting good people [- time spent on this is well worth it - get it wrong and you pay for and live with the problems for years to come; everyone is different and you have to become adept at fitting people to specific roles]
- managing people well [- treat people as unique, with respect and as potential leaders; managing their performance so they are focused on doing what is fundamentally important to the commercial success of the business]
- motivating people [- aimed at maximising their contribution to the company by engaging them in all aspects of the company’s work]
- developing people [- so they are continually learning how to do their jobs better and are growing as individuals by developing their unique talents]

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Above all else, Peter Lunn is a man of integrity in whom Lunn’s employees believe. They are committed to growing the business, not because they appreciated the merits of Peter’s vision for the company BUT because they believe in the leader who sold them the vision.

It just so happens that this is what I have tried to teach business leaders to do for most of my life. Here’s a summary of how Lunn’s approach matches the Value the Person Principles…

The Value the Person principles are

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Who Are Lunn’s?

With their head office in Belfast, this is a professional, family-owned business. In recent years they have experienced significant growth and commercial success based on the application of the age-old management principles of focusing on both their people and clients.

Like Value the Person, Lunn’s believe that work is a fundamental part of people’s lives and, as such, their belief is that the ultimate success of life is found in relationships (- in every sphere of life) and that money is nothing more than a neutral tool to facilitate the development of those relationships.

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Because companies like Lunn’s and The Financial Consulate (- see other website articles) are unique in the type of cultures they have created and from whom we all have so much to learn, Value the Person hope to keep you in touch with their progress in the months and years ahead.

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