2 October 2016

What’s the greatest thing you can do as an entrepreneur?

Snowdon with Lly Cwellyn

Walking the dogs on Snowdon with Lly Cwellyn behind

I believe that enabling others and helping people along their own path is the greatest gift we can give.

When a business is growing, like UKFast, it is essential to develop people, to give them the room to grow and learn – not only for the business but for the team too. As companies grow, new opportunities arise; new management positions, new teams and new challenges.

Developing talent as you grow is the only way to evolve as the business does.

Throughout the past five years or so, I have seen just how important it is to step back and let people take control. Whilst it is, of course, important to play an active role in your business and be present, it is equally important to create a succession plan.

Who will take your role as MD when you move to CEO? Who will be the future CEO? Who will be on your board? Who will move into the management layers?

You never know what is around the next corner or over the next hill; preparing your team for the future is the best way to be ready for whatever lies ahead.

I have found that by stepping back and empowering people, it is very easy to spot who the future leaders are. They come into their own when you’re not around as a safety net.

That being said, we have found that there are no clearer indicators of who will become future UKFast managers than when we take the team to Mount Snowdon.

Our trips to Castell Cidwm, our lakeside hotel in Wales, are designed to push new and existing recruits out of their comfort zone so we can get to know the real people. No interview or induction can reveal a person’s true personality, or make bonds with the rest of the team, than climbing a mountain together! Especially when the wind is blowing a gale and it’s freezing at the top!

Not only that, we also challenge teams to build rafts and head out to a buoy in the lake and back as quickly as they can. More often than not, this ends with one or two of the team jumping in the freezing lake to power the raft a bit faster than the oars! It is always fantastic fun and an opportunity for people to shine and make memories together. Of course, we end the trip around the log burner with a few drinks and some great food and games. Anyone you ask in the office will have their own Snowdon story to tell.

When we talk about our Snowdon trips, people naturally assume that when we talk about leaders and management skills, that we mean those who are out front on the climb, or first in the rafting. What we actually look for are the people at the back, supporting others.

We have always looked for the supportive gene at UKFast – it’s one of our core values. Whilst it is easy to be swept away by people who interview incredibly well, have extraordinary portfolios and years of experience – how do they fit your culture?

Raft Building At UKFast

A team of adventurers at UKFast on our Lake with Snowdon in the distance

Getting the right people on the bus in the first place, ensures that you have the leaders of the future already lined up.

It is also essential as a business leader to allow people to make mistakes. I would hate for people to see me as someone behind an office door who they couldn’t approach if they’d made a mistake. In fact, there’s nothing greater for me than when someone comes to me to tell me that they’ve made an error, they’ve learned from it and know how to avoid it in the future. This level of honesty is another sign of great future leaders.

At UKFast we’re investing in training and development, because we’re invested in our team’s futures – whether that’s with management training, technical qualifications or specific skills like shorthand for our comms team.

As an entrepreneur it’s our responsibility to not only pass on our experience, but to let our team make their own.

What have you done lately to grow your team? I’d love to hear your tips.

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