8 November 2015

There is nothing more important than a tightly woven team that’s highly motivated whether you are working in sport or business. The two are absolutely essential if you want to achieve higher levels of success.

But teams need direction, variety and stimulation. They are complex to manage and they are easily distracted if you take your eye off the goal for a second.

The UKFast Team Arriving on Necker

The UKFast Team Arriving on Necker

Team mates also need to know that they are working for people who care and who are part of a similar group of like minded people.

So how do you go about tackling some of the complexities that you face when trying to strengthen your team.

Every now and then we take the directors out of the office to discuss direction and agree on a new set of objectives. If you are going to do this, go somewhere far, far away from the office, where you are relaxed and you are able to switch off from your day-to-day responsibilities. If you try and do this in the office or too close to home someone or something will distract you!

We have done this in a variety of places, from Snowdon, Verbier and even as far as Necker Island.

The idea is to have some fun and create lasting memories and at the same time work on areas together that need care and attention. Anyone who was with me on our director’s trip to our Lake House in the Snowdonia National Park will remember climbing the mountain at 3am in the pitch black with head torches, in rain and dense fog.

The Necker Belle a perfect location to relax and plan the future

The Necker Belle a perfect location to relax and plan the future

Its easy to think they look like holidays, but we do get work done too. This latest one was an important one with UKFast growing so fast, looking at where we need to focus our attention is top of my agenda.

We have also new people on the senior management team and I wanted to ensure everyone gelled and shared in some great experiences and contributed to new ideas that benefit our customers for years to come.

A few days sailing on Branson’s yacht is enough to inspire anyone myself included and I can honestly say now its over I am so excited to be back and start this next stage of our journey off. I feel like a kid again, UKFast feels like a start up and we have a huge journey ahead and the world is our oyster.

It’s easy to get complacent when things go well, however I have a philosophy that nothing is ever good enough. We can always find ways to improve our business.

We have a simple strategy at UKFast, “focus and improve the most broken element of the business.”

With fast growing businesses there are always areas that need the care and attention of an owner, founder. It’s something that you should never outsource or delegate. Helping your senior management team decide where to focus their efforts is one of the most important parts of running a business. It’s also important to show them just how much you care about the smallest details too. You can only do this if you are actively involved. Whilst I am big fan of delegation, this is one area that I take pride being involved in.

Jonathan Bowers reflecting on the Necker Belle

Jonathan Bowers UKFast reflecting on the Necker Belle

Not everyone agrees with my philosophy of taking time out with team mates, but it just feels right and if a formula is working, don’t change it.

You might consider it a failing as I have never learnt where the line stops between work and home-life and so that too also merges between holidays and work. So much so that it’s quite normal these days to have a portion of our holiday invaded by teammates.

Its great fun though, they bring energy and fun and as we never fully switch off from our responsibilities as directors and founders of UKFast there is no better place to discuss the future and reminisce over the past successes and things that we could have done better.

A few people on my trips ask “Why do you work on holiday?”

It’s a great question and they ask it as if they have sympathy for me.

“It is simple, do what you love to do” is my point of view. I consider life so precious and everyday is a blessing whether I am in Wales, Manchester or somewhere remote on my own.

Neil Lathwood IT Director and 1st recruit at UKFast

Neil Lathwood IT Director and 1st recruit at UKFast

I set a goal years ago to never let the sun go down on a day unless I feel I have made a difference. It was the result of an accident I had that makes me look at life a little differently from how I used to growing up.

I’d say that if connecting with the people and clients is something you enjoy, keep doing it! It doesn’t matter where you are, if it’s in your blood, just keep going.

Never do it to the detriment of your family, I get up early and manage to squeeze a few hours in every morning when the girls are still asleep. It is a great time to get everything out of the way, there are no distractions and I love the peace and quiet of the morning.

If I can pass any advice to the next generation it will be about how they manage time. Wherever you are, find time to get out under the stars or in the outdoors and do it whatever the weather. Dancing and splashing in puddles is just as rewarding as enjoying a beautiful summers day.

If you can share that experience with someone, all the better. Don’t feel that your work has to stop at the weekend. Don’t feel that you relationship with your team


works in line with the hours on their contract. Don’t feel that your duties as a director or leader stop with the limitations placed on you by the Employment Laws.

Not everyone will need you to the same degree and each person within your team will need something slightly different. But you can only motivate a group of people once you understand their needs properly and you can’t do this across an office desk or in a square box of a boardroom.

Invest your time in talent and you will all be the winners, together. There is nothing more rewarding.

You can pay someone all the tea in China but nothing will beat a shoulder to cry on, or a timely hug, a pat on the back or a genuine “thank you.”

If you want to inspire others, get inspired yourself first. There is no better way than listening to and hanging out with your troops.

So inspired after my break, I cannot wait for Monday morning. I have the fullest diary I have ever had and the largest team I have ever managed. Yes it’s a challenge but I know I have the greatest team of people by my side and I work for them.

Have an awesome week and make a difference.


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