I have been trying to keep track of the Winter Olympics for the past couple of weeks. As somebody who has never skied, went ice skating once but fell over every time I let go of the side of the rink, and lives miles away from a decent-sized hill which means luge-style sledging isn’t an option, I can’t profess to being an expert in any of the events that are on offer. But there is something about watching people who have devoted years and years to train, and given up so much to compete at elite levels that is inspirational. And despite my affinity for football, I hold Olympians in higher regard as they rarely get the same status (maybe that’s a good thing?) or financial rewards as some sportspeople do. And the thing I REALLY like is the team spirit and camaraderie. Where else in sport do you get teams doing things like the Swiss team did? Although Freddie Flintoff’s attempts to circumnavigate the Caribbean in a pedalo in 2007 were pretty impressive!
If you ever wondered what it is like to be part of a committed, dedicated team of professionals then you aren’t in the right job.
I can honestly, hand on heart, say that I have enjoyed every single day of my work at Tisski. I joined in October, after more than 10 years as a civil servant, and I learnt a hell of a lot from those years; mostly good, but some less so.
And when I started with Tisski I was surprised that there wasn’t an intranet. There wasn’t a name badge, nor a 20-page induction pack, nor a buddy who was appointed to make sure that I was being taken care of and knew how to use the toilet (you just can’t be too careful in the public sector 😊!). Instead there were people who spoke to each other. People that were approachable. People that knew what they were doing and had an interest in what I was going to be doing, even though at the time I wasn’t 100% certain.
It is fast-paced at Tisski, hectic and we fight for every bit of work we believe we can do well. We have gained several new customers in the 5 months I have been here and also let a few go. There were some services where we didn’t feel we could meet the high standards we expect to provide, and our customers demand, so we helped them to leave us gracefully. We are honest and go above and beyond and whilst staff aren’t expected to do it, they choose to. For example, if we have a customer that needs to make an important change out of hours and their support contract doesn’t cover it, we don’t tell them to start it at 8:30 am the next working day, we do what we can to help them. If somebody has a payment run that starts after 5:30pm we monitor performance to ensure it works, and try and remediate it if anything goes wrong.
Neither my contract, nor anybody else’s says we need to do this, but we do it. Much like I imagine people talk of the Olympic Spirit, there is the Tisski Way. If our customers are happy, then it makes us happy. And we know that we are happy as we monitor staff sentiment each and every week.
So, we know that:
• Staff don’t leave Tisski. 1 person has left since I joined (2% of staff)
• We are growing – staff numbers are up 72% in the last 2 years
• Our staff satisfaction is rated as 9.6, compared to the benchmark of 8.9 for similar organisations
• We are well above average for development, recognition, leadership and more
• But, we also know that internal communication can get better, so we aren’t perfect!
Are we the Bhutan of the UK technology sector, where Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Profit? We believe the former will increase the latter. So how do we do this?
Using my own personal experience as evidence, I was expected from day one to engage with my colleagues and to support them with their work. If I see something that could be improved, then I speak up and make constructive feedback. We use Yammer widely for things like this. We share good news, as well as asking for help when it is needed. We also have a channel for non-work-related subjects.
There is also a very clear line to the leaders in the organisation. Our Board members are regularly in the office and are approachable. This makes a huge difference and some of our newer recruits have found this wildly different from some of their previous organisations.
In addition, Tisski makes a charitable donation every month to a different cause. This is chosen by a different staff member each time, and they choose something that is personal to them. And we also get involved in worthy causes where we can. I am a Board member of Midlands Byte Night, which raises money for Action for Children, and prior to me starting I ‘encouraged’ our CEO, Anna Assassa, and Directors Ben Austen and Richard Baxter to get a Tisski team to take part in Byte Night. Sleeping rough in Birmingham in October isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but Team Tisski were there and raised several thousand pounds for a great cause. Next month we will be joining one of our customers, Health and Safety Executive, to work in the Sport Relief Call Centre. And we are building a Dynamics 365 instance for a Down Syndrome Charity to help them manage their events and fundraising. These activities give people a feelgood factor and make us proud to represent the team.
The good news for you all is that we are growing, and looking for good people. We have had a great response to our Dynamics CRM Consultant vacancy that is on LinkedIn, and more roles will be advertised soon. We also want to take on an Apprentice and Graduates, as now we are of such as size that we can offer them a rounded induction to working life. If you want to join a vibrant, energetic and passionate team then get in touch with us. If that all seems a bit hard then good luck with whatever you do, but you’re probably not quite right for us.
I haven’t looked back since leaving the Senior Civil Service behind. Yes, I miss some of the people and on occasion I miss the sense of wider social responsibility that went with that role. But, I am learning each and every day, and working with some fantastic people – both within Tisski and across our customer base. Long may that continue. So, whilst we will stop some way short of donning lycra and hurtling down snow-clad mountains at high speed, we will keep on providing expertise, energy and effort to each and every one of our customers. Go Team Tisski!