24/02/2012

By Lara Morgan, Founder Of Pacific Direct

My approach to work has always been that all players work hard for each other. We were a very small unit, and our open-plan office helped enormously with this approach of role sharing.

It is crucial that no one is an island in their role in a small company; you cannot have a closed approach and gain maximum momentum. It seemed to me that I should work the hardest as this was my plan we were living, and in leading by example through hard work I found others gave me far more of their time than I deserved. The early team at Pacific Direct worked extremely hard, were flexible to an unbelievable degree in all sorts of areas and set the foundation for the level of care we engendered throughout our global organisation as the business grew. Indeed, they worked additionally hard to maintain and cherish all that positive energy, the celebration, the laughter and expectation of value added through continued learning.

Work was basically fun. We shared the roles, we shared sample packaging, we shared different skills and backgrounds, we looked out for each other. From the outset office politics was decidedly not part of our game plan. Pacific Direct set out to stretch and develop all the team members from all the parts of the company – suppliers included. The enjoyment gained out of seeing others achieve things they never dreamed of is one of my proudest memories from running Pacific. One thing I never did was ask anybody to do anything I was not willing to do myself.

Irrespective of this, we also always made it clear that we wanted more than the best from individuals – but any time they needed extra support, Pacific’s policy was that family came first. How can someone work to the best of their ability if things are not working at home? Flexibility is vital. You should always employ great people and they are undoubtedly worth being flexible for – you will always get back much more than you give.

In the old days, when there were only a few of us, if I went on holiday and a decision had to be made, the others went out of their way not to disturb me while I was away. There was an understanding that they were trusted to make a decision; that it did not matter whether they were right or wrong but that they simply progressed, though obviously with the intention of success. When I returned I was often told, when necessary, the thinking that had been put into the decisions made in my absence.

They would ask themselves what I would do, and that was the beginning and end of the conversation. It took thirty seconds because they knew me so well. If the decision felt uncomfortable but they also felt it was one I would have made, they knew it was probably the right thing to do. They would also raise any concerns about culture, and it is people like these you need to hire for your organisation. Once you have them, find ways to cherish them.


Extracted from More Balls Than Most by Lara Morgan, published by Infinite Ideas.

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