I was at a dinner recently and whilst putting the world to rights at the pre-dinner drinks, we were discussing how you get noticed in a large organisation. When you work amongst a sea of people, how do you stand out as doing a good job by the senior leadership? The answer I got from the CEO of a Formula One team with a history in car manufacturing was something I’ve done in the past but not for the intention of getting noticed. He said quite simply; “you’ve got to be there”.
He went on to explain that when you are working late at the office, you notice and bump into others doing the same. Although the acknowledgement may be a simply nod or greeting, if that becomes regular, it will probably lead to a conversation. On this basis even the most junior member of the team can end up having a conversation with and making an impression on the senior leadership. It got me thinking, for good or bad, I have frequently shared a coffee and a chat with people in the team who's path would not naturally cross mine were they not around after hours when I was.
The CEO who expressed this opinion over pre-dinner drinks said it was something that happened a lot when he started out, as it did for me. However, this was 25 years ago and so much has changed. Back then there was no remote working, it was much harder to take work home so you stayed until it was done. We launched a programme last year for team members that go ‘The Extra Mile’ where team members that go the extra mile in all aspects of their work, get taken to lunch with senior leaders. Although I didn’t bat an eyelid about working late in my twenties, I realise family commitments mean that being around after hours to get that airtime is not possible for everyone. But more importantly, good work and innovation take many guises and can happen at any time of day. This is why we’ve created events from lunches to large awards ceremonies, one of which I presented at last night, so that our senior leaders get to meet and thank those people in person.
It was at one of these events that I met a valeter from one of our business that has been with us 25 years. He told me about his role, how he met his wife at work and how much he loves his job. Had it not been for our events to recognise people at every level, I might not have had the opportunity to meet him and thank him personally. So as much as ‘you’ve got to be there’ as a team member, it’s equally as important for senior leaders to make time and create opportunities to ‘be there’ for people too. Congratulations to all our Extra Mile winners that celebrated at Celtic Manor last night and to all the finalists. You have certainly been there for our business.