The importance of teamwork

Posted on 7th January 2014


As I start to write this blog I am unsure as to the reaction it will get, but I felt I needed to write it as a thank you if nothing else.  However, I really do hope that people will take from it some lessons for business from what was very much a personal “issue”.

As some of you will know, in the early hours of 5th December my settled family life changed forever, or at the very least for a long time.  I was awoken to the shouts of “Fire, get the children out” from my husband, who, ironically enough is a Firefighter!  It is amazing how you can go from deep sleep to wide awake, terrified but also very calm for the children in only a few seconds.  Thankfully we all got out but it was the worst night of my life and we are now in temporary accommodation for the foreseeable future while our house is restored.  We have lost everything we owned downstairs and a lot of upstairs has been smoke damaged.

So, what on earth has this got to do with learning about People Management from you Emma, I hear you think, or at least some business lessons??  Is it about the importance of backing up any work you do from home in case your work bag and laptop are burnt beyond recognition, is it a plea to have smoke alarms at home and in the office, or at the very least a disaster recovery plan for if a key member of staff if suddenly unavailable for a week?  No, although all very good advice none of that is the point of this.

I want to praise the efforts of my team in both keeping the business going when I became unavailable during a very busy week and half the HR team was already on annual leave and I was supposed to be holding the fort!  They spoke to clients, rearranged where possible, talked through meetings with them over the phone even though they were on leave and kept the day to day going to.  You could argue they are paid to do this, which of course they are but they did it to help me, knowing the last thing I was capable of was fulfilling my role at work.  However, it is the other things that they did that really show the fantastic team I have.  In our temporary accommodation, half the furniture has been supplied by the team and the week we moved out of the hotel in to a rented house they came over one evening complete with a Christmas tree, lights and decorations to make sure our children knew Christmas was still happening even if in strange surroundings.  Maria and Lou between them washed every item of clothing we own – a challenge in itself, and hand washed all the children’s teddies that had survived.  Lindsay also gave up her afternoon to help my husband build furniture and beds – as that is certainly not my strong point!

So I come back to my previous point, why would they do this?  Washing, decorating and bed building is certainly not in a HR Consultants job description!  I believe, and I am assured from the team that I am right, it is because they are engaged with GatewayHR and therefore with me as the leader in that business.  They don’t just want it to succeed so that they get their salary and any perks; they want it to succeed because they believe in it.  Also, as a manager I am told that I am pretty reasonable, I have my moments of course, and so when I needed their help they were there to offer it in abundance.

Whilst on the subject of thanking people, our clients and suppliers that know what has happened have been incredible too! One client, West Lodge Farm Park, donated my family a meal and Christmas Sing-a-Long tickets and then to GatewayHR a Christmas Party!  When the fire happened we had cancelled all work plans for Christmas but this offer was just what we needed to let off some steam (excuse the pun) and celebrate as a team.

2013-12-20 22.05.17

Other gifts have included a new coffee machine and plenty of coffee for our new kitchen when we get one, homemade cushions from the wonderful Online Toolbox, flowers, gift vouchers and loads of messages of support.  Once again this shows engagement from a client – supplier relationship point of view.  We like to work with our clients in a personable way (hence our logo) and this shows when it is them that rally to your support when it is needed, not that they complain that we have to delay a meeting due the fire.

So there we have it, a lesson in the importance of excellent client and supplier relationships and also of making sure you look after your team and develop engagement in your organisation.  I sincerely hope none of you have to realise this lesson in the way I did, but it has certainly shown me how amazing people can be.

Until next time …

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director