13 June 2016

Well, it’s been a long wait but Summer’s finally arrived.

You might be quick to remind me that it’s raining again, however I am talking about my newborn daughter, Summer Lilly, and no amount of inclement weather could damage my enthusiasm.

Our new recruit settling in well!

Our new recruit settling in well!

I am well known for my obsessive character and love for business, however there is nothing like a great distraction to take you away from work. And there is no distraction quite like a baby!

Summer is our fourth child, our fourth daughter to be precise, so I am well and truly outnumbered at home. Mind you, at UKFast, we have a board of directors split 50:50 between men and women. And I’d argue the ladies are more vocal, so I am probably just as outnumbered in the office too!

There are few things in life like a baby to keep you on your toes. I don’t care how many children you have, they are all unique and require slightly different attention. It’s absolutely the best management training you can have.

There have been many times when I have found myself out of my depth in business, in sink or swim moments, and I am sure there will be many to come. Being a parent has some similarities. There is no rulebook. You have to find out what works for you and learn as you go along.

You learn to multitask, to focus wholeheartedly on someone else’s needs and how to work under pressure. You also learn to grow responsive to a complete shift in your routine or schedule – hence the later than usual ‘Sunday’ blog post!

On top of this, the more I grow as a businessman the more I realise the parallels between a happy family and a successful team at work. It is becoming more and more obvious, day by day, the more I venture, explore and experiment with the way we work and the environment we are building at UKFast.

My eldest and my youngest daughters getting to know one another.

My eldest and my youngest daughters getting to know one another.

At the heart of everything we do is a simple philosophy, but it’s difficult to put it into words. In the same way as if someone asked you to describe your family life, I’d imagine you might struggle. That’s the closest way to describe life at UKFast: family. By recruiting likeminded people, the family atmosphere – like that at UKFast – starts to develop and take on a life of its own.

I remember hearing a person doing a talk on parenting some time ago; he had nine children and he explained that if you have too many rules, you spend your life enforcing them!

This really resonates with me. I had strict parents but I was lucky enough to spend some time with my cousin and UKFast MD Jonathan’s family. Jonathan’s father, my uncle Peter, is a child psychologist and was very relaxed. He treated the kids, even the youngest, Antony who was then three, almost as adults in the way he spoke with them and asked their opinions on things. At the time he was regarded in the wider family as a maverick, however, on reflection, it clearly worked; all three kids have grown up to be amazing people.

Meeting John and June my outlaws (technically in-laws), they were extremely relaxed and calming too. They bring this energy into being grandparents to my children as well. It is wonderful to see how my girls respond to it.

I’d like to think we have taken this fun element in our lives and applied this to our household.
What is interesting is that the more it works, the more we apply a similar philosophy to work and our colleagues; and again the more that works, the more we encourage it.

When you build an environment like this, it works really well for the people who want to excel. In the same way that, in families, when you put faith in people, when you set out expectations and you treat them fairly, they respond positively.

Of course, the only problem with this if you allow people a free reign there’s a danger that some people will abuse it – just like naughty children!

Interestingly enough, I am finding that by creating a team and environment where people are proud to hang out and work together, it’s the team themselves who are the ones who police the environment. If you have a team of ‘A’ players and someone comes in who just cruises, they will not be accepted.
It would take an extraordinary amount of time to comment on every parallel that we see between our personal and work families – and with a newborn, there simply isn’t time!

But I will sum this blog up with this thought. When you treat to your team in the same way as you treat your family, in the same way that you help you children and relatives to grow and develop; you will open up a whole new world of doing business. Trust me, there is nothing like family.

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