How we have stuck with our Values to grow our community of brands.
by Arjen Cooper-Rolfe
Up until 2020 we had had great success in reconnecting with our Values. It is something we’d started more than 5 years ago and along the way some amazing things happened by getting colleagues to unite around a common Purpose & Values. We’d proved to ourselves that there was another way to run this organisation which resulted in a genuine Win/Win for everyone.
For anyone considering a more Values-led approach, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Take the leap of faith. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been without its challenges and it’s been a lot of hard work and commitment day in, day out to keep our Values alive in the business.
We’d changed a business that was merely surviving and turned it into a real success. We’ve been:
Diversification of Our Products and Services
- Outperforming competitors;
- Improving our colleague engagement indicators at a time when we’ve had to stay apart;
- Retained our best people;
- Go on a remarkable run of top National and International business award wins culminating in winning the prestigious Lloyds Bank National Business Awards – Employer of the Year in 2020;
However, as 2021 came around we had to decide where to go next. We are ambitious and we knew it was no time to take our foot off the pedal. There is still so much potential to unlock and we wanted the next phase of our evolution to focus heavily on the diversification of our products and services. We no longer wanted to be just a Packaging Distributor.
But how would that fit with our Values? Did we ignore them and throw out everything that had held us in good stead? No we didn’t fall into that trap. In fact it was keeping hold of our Values, the simple things we believe are important to us, that have helped our diversification strategy to be a success. This has allowed us to set up new businesses outside of our traditional areas of experience. Here are a couple of examples.
. We have 50 years of storing and distributing our own products with ‘000s of loyal Customers. We understand first-hand how much care and trust people put in us. So we’ve used all the experience and expertise we’ve gained and starting doing this for other people.
. Someone approached us with an idea to set up an IT services business. Now that might not have been an obvious choice for diversification, but it doesn’t seem that strange when you look at the things we say we’ll do around our Value of Innovation.
And there are more ideas in the pipeline, equally aligned to our Values. Involvement is now a community of brands all with the same 5 Values:
- Image: Building a positive reputation
- Customer: Exceeding our Customers’ Expectations – World Class
- Innovation: Always looking at new ways to do business
- Team: Everyone here makes a difference:
- Performance: Aspiring to achieve exceptional results
So our Values do not hold us back or restrict what we can do. They motivate us, push us forward and help us to do the right thing every day. They apply to us all no matter which Involvement brand we work for. Finally, they do not change – they are our Forever DNA and the foundation stones of our pyramid.
And underpinning this is a belief and optimism in our People. People who work with us are valued, supported and empowered because they are our true competitive advantage – it’s the one thing our competitors can’t copy. It’s this belief that inspires our Performance Culture and ultimately drives our success.
I believe this type type of approach can be built in any business. If a small, formerly sleepy business likes ours can do it, anyone can and it goes to show that just because you aren’t a large corporate organisation it doesn’t mean you can’t operate at the highest level.
We have also created a website where we’ll be sharing more of our learnings www.involvement.co.uk and hopefully inspire others to adopt this approach.
Our Values Handbook – The Most Important document in our Organisation
This is also an opportunity to highlight out flagship tool. We have written and rewritten our book on how to keep Involvement on top of its game, able to tackle anything that is thrown at us. It’s our Values Handbook. We are continually updating it and we’re already onto our 10th Edition. Our Values Handbook drives our Performance Culture and by working in this way we have created an amazingly resilient organisation.
As we’ve grown it’s developed into our most powerful tool and the most important document in our company – even more important than our contracts of employment. It forms the basis of the decisions that we make and sets out how we recruit, develop and manage our teams.
Footnote – Play Your Own Game by Living your Values
The last 12 months have been pretty unpredictable and the next 12 months look pretty unpredictable too. But at Involvement, we remain confident. Yes of course all the local and global challenges are real. But that old saying about talking yourself into a crisis feels to me like it’s being embraced rather too hard.
Everything you hear seems to link back to the cost-of-living crisis. You never hear anything about ways to look beyond the current situation. In a business context this is a killer. That’s not to say you should ignore it, but you mustn’t let all this take up a hundred per cent of your organisation’s concentration and energy and take away from your longer-term planning.
Our experience of Brexit and Covid cemented the truth of this for us. Those were massive learning experiences. Yet, we actually did our best work in those times of turmoil.
Businesses who will come out of this stronger are those who have carried on forward thinking and planning – Living your Values. You have to maintain good judgement, but being courageous and decisive will pays dividends.
About the author
Arjen Cooper-Rolfe was born in the Midlands in 1976 and grew up in rural Warwickshire where his parents started a business in the 1970s selling packaging into the UK manufacturing sector.
Arjen was seeped in the business from an early age. He has happy memories, aged four or five, of walking from home with his dad to the picturesque four storey Victorian mill house, complete with open fires, that was Involvement’s first warehouse and just ‘hanging around’. Later, during school and university holidays, he would shift stock or drive a delivery van. But he knew he never wanted to work there ….
He took a degree at Bristol University in Economics and Politics, then followed a passion for buildings by taking a Masters in Property and Law at City University in London, before training to be a Chartered Surveyor at one of the big West End commercial property firms, Jones Lang LaSalle, and moving as partner to Knight Frank’s professional services division. In all, it was a 12-year career in Property.
He was ‘very happy and doing well’ and had just had his first child when, between 2009 – 2011 his father died from pancreatic cancer, his mother from lung cancer and his brother from suicide. Arjen officially joined Invovlement in January 2011. It felt, in the end, ‘both an obligation and my destiny’.
Under Arjen Cooper-Rolfe, Involvement has been transformed into the dynamic leader of its sector and a beacon of best practise in employee involvement and customer care.
Arjen Cooper-Rolfe is now nurturing his teams into a new era under the banner of Involvement, with a series of exciting new Involvement brands on the launchpad – all infused with the original ‘we-can-do-it’ Team spirit.