from The Herald,IIP supplement 25th October 2000
At 70 years old, most of us would be thinking of retirement - it's time to slow down and enjoy the finer things in life, especially when you work in a fast-paced, demanding business and for a company that has a global client base and is recording 300% growth every year.
Not so for septuagenarian Bill Andrew, a key figure in the successful development of Glasgow company Marketing Management Services, which has rapidly expanded in the past few years and has future plans to employ up to 760 people. Compared to Bill, at 12 years old the company is a youngster - but like him, it has longevity in mind.
Established in 1988, Marketing Management Services is now one of the top five strategic marketing companies in the UK. Its largest research centre is in Glasgow, but to meet the demands of its international clientele, it has offices around the world.
Bill Andrew, one of 25 full-time and 150 part-time staff, knows as well as MD Gerald Michaluk that a large-scale operation needs strong, structured systems to sustain it. Investors in People, first achieved in 1997, was the right method to achieve it.
"We have our own quality assurance people who are excellent," says Michaluk. "Bill Andrew was responsible for driving IIP through, and having internal expertise is very important".
"Even if your company is successful, sometimes you can't see the woods for the trees. Initially, our IIP adviser helped us look at the business from the outside in, and one of the biggest issues that arose was our scaling, particularly in terms of recruitment and induction. Business systems are only as good as the quality of the people."
Implementing a 'scalable system' became key to the company growth and achievement of IIP. During re-assessment business areas critical to this issue were audited, effectively providing more input. "We weren't just being assessed, we were being moved forward with suggestions and ideas that in the long-term would save us time and effort," says Michaluk.
A performance-based company, Marketing Management Services doesn't have room for what Michaluk terms as "dead wood". But that's not a harsh dictum from above, it's a philosophy that staff are willing and able to work to, with opportunities to be promoted to levels they are comfortable with.
Michaluk explains: "People have different ambitions, so we have a two-way 'evaluation' dialogue with staff that ensures they can rise to, or stay with, a position they are really happy with."
Staff bonuses are dependent on customer satisfaction ratings, and a low score simply encourages staff to consider other company positions. Investors in People is, believes Michaluk, worthwhile. The company has enjoyed positive feedback from clients and visits from international companies that want to learn to form its IIP experience.
Michaluk has learned a thing or two also. "My bonus depends on how the company judges my performance. And I found out my communications were bad! I had a habit of forgetting to tell my secretary where I was going. I don't do that anymore."
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