As with the vast majority of businesses, we started off small. For the first 10 years of our life there were no more than 10 of us on team ramsac, it was very much a family feeling. We all knew each other, the office was small so you tended to know exactly what each person was working on, and everyone we employed was very similar to ourselves, so we socialised together most weeks. And if we planned a night out, we knew that everyone would be there.
Then we started to achieve some great successes, which meant we needed to increase the size of the team. About three years ago we wrote our five-year plan, and realised that by the end of it, we would need a team of around 50 people in order to deliver the sort of outsourced IT services that we wanted to deliver to our clients.
As a team now approaching that magic number of 50 colleagues, some things have naturally changed. We have a more diverse group of people working for us; people are sub divided in to smaller business units, a relationship team, an ops and finance team, a remote support team and a technical team.
We have a small leadership group, with team managers having devolved responsibility for the things that previously, only a director would do. A night out for the whole team, with partners, now means hiring a venue, so other than for our Christmas gathering and our summer picnic, social events now tend to be arranged for teams, rather than the whole organisation to get together.
Not everything has changed. We have never veered from our core values and we maintain a very fussy approach to recruitment – in an industry renowned for home-knit jumpers and long haired men with a fear of talking to the opposite sex in any format other than online fantasy games, we have stuck our ‘real people’ policy – only employing people that can speak in plain English and maintain eye contact when discussing technology with a client!
However, one of the challenges we felt we could face as we grew, was the fact that we weren’t willing to let go of the thing that we felt really made us ‘ramsac’. We hadn’t really defined what the ‘thing’ was but we knew it existed. We used to give feedback to recruitment agencies after unsuccessful interviews, saying things like ‘He just wasn’t a ramsac sort of person.’ We knew what we meant, but we had never really defined it.
Whatever the ‘thing’ was, we knew that it was so important to us, that we couldn’t grow if growing meant losing it! It was, we decided, a certain passion and dedication that we believed so many of our larger competitors lacked. A genuine belief in putting a clients business first. In being empathetic. In being flexible and in responding in a certain way. We had built our business based solely on our reputation for ‘Making IT Simple’ but we knew that with growth, there was a danger we could lose our key differentiator – our service values.
So, having spent several years talking about the ‘ramsac way of doing things,’ we decided to sit down with our team and define what it was we meant. We got the whole team involved, we ran several brain storming sessions, and after much head scratching, we came up with the 7 key principals of the ramsac way:
- Communicate clearly & professionally
- Keep the client informed
- Pay attention to the detail
- Have a ‘can do’ attitude
- Go the extra mile
- Deliver on your promises
- Plan your work
- Ask for help when you need it.
We already felt that our team were doing all of these things on a day-to-day basis, but we wanted to ensure that as we grew, everyone that joined the business would understand it to. This was especially important as inductions and initial training periods were being delegated from the directors to the new team managers.
So, we took this list to our communications agency, and asked for some help. We had spent a long time working with them around developing our branding, which we had always considered essential for our client facing activities, but this project was starting to make us think about how we needed to develop the brand for new and existing staff.
We agreed on an internal campaign called ‘The Power of One’.
The concept behind the Power of One campaign was about saying to our team, that it wasn’t about massive gestures. The thing that made ramsac good, was the fact that we just instinctively do those little extra things, that really make a difference to our clients. We led with thought that ‘It just takes one different, one exceptional or one memorable action to leave a positive mark on someone.’
With that in mind we set about launching an internal branding campaign. We set our 7 key principals out on a series of large Power of One posters. We planned a breakfast launch meeting with our staff, and when they arrived in the office for the meeting, they each found a Power of One gift bag on their desks containing a doughnut, and a message from our MD.
‘Take this doughnut – it’s just a little thing, but I bet it made you smile. And that’s what we want for our customers. That moment when they think to themselves, ‘Hey, ramsac actually do care.’ Why do we want this? Well not only is the power of one small action important for the business, it’s also good for you.’
We had stayed late the previous night to put the new posters up around the building, and we rolled out a new ‘Power of One’ wallpaper across all the IT estate, so that there was a really obvious impact when people walked through the door that morning.
And in the launch meeting, we spent time talking about each of the seven key stages in delivering the ramsac service.
We knew however that ‘The Power of One’ couldn’t be just about a one off gimmick, it needed to become culture. So for that, we did four more things.
Firstly, we wrote our Personal Development Programme around the 7 key elements of the Power of One. This means that every three months when our colleagues have a PDR meeting with their line managers, they are discussing their own performance in line with the Power of One principals.
Secondly, we wanted to stop giving fluffy feedback to our recruitment agencies about needing a ‘ramsac person.’ So we wrote a guide for prospective employees, a one page Power of One summary to really set out our culture.
Thirdly, we asked each team to brainstorm how their part of the business could embrace the 7 areas, what things could they each commit to doing differently, whether they were in front line tech support, or back office finance admin, in order to ensure that our customers felt great about their daily interactions with us.
And finally, we launched a monthly Power of One reward scheme, inviting customers to give feedback on staff performance at every interaction, and then rewarding positive feedback with Amazon gift vouchers.
The result? We’ve grown from 20 to nearly 50 staff in the last couple of years, and I truly believe that the culture of first class service is as strong now, as when it was 10 of us sat around the same room.
Branding has always been important to ramsac. We’ve always tried to punch above our weight as far as clients and potential clients are concerned. But as we grow we also recognise the fact that we are only as good as the people we have working for us, and representing us to our clients on a daily basis. So investing in the internal brand has been absolutely vital to ensuring our on-going success.