Tuesday, 19 May 2009

An Innocent way to manage your people

We had lots of emails about our posting on Innocent Drinks and, as promised, here is a bit more detail on the People side of the business.

Lesson One

Know what you are looking for:

Innocent are really clear on who they want in the business. They have borrowed a line from Jim Collins and want to get the right people on the bus (see “Good to Great” for more detail). As at Google, the founding team personally signs off each new recruit. They admit “it slows down the hiring process a little, but we’ve found that when it comes to recruitment, if you act in haste you repent a leisure”

Innocent look for very strong Values fit and look for examples on candidates CV’s of where they have demonstrated the Innocent Values. Crucially, they don’t only take work related examples into account; working with local communities, setting up a business as a teenager or coaching a local sporting team are seen as equally relevant for selection criteria.

Like all of us they are concerned with testing a candidate’s Capabilities, and they set practical challenges to test they have the right skills. These tests also seek out the candidate’s latent capability and test if they have the skill to think round a problem and learn as they go along

They also have an interesting point of view on Experience. At a junior level they don’t always look for previous experience (“we know energy, commitment and smarts can…compensate”) but with senior hires they are clear that previous experience is a must.

Lesson Two

Finding what you’re looking for:

Out and about and on the road, the guys and girls at Innocent take every opportunity to talk up the business. Check out their labels – they see them as the best for of advertising. And if you don’t find who you are looking for in HR, remember your employees have friends so they offer at finders fee of between £2000 and £5000.

Lesson Three

Keeping people on the bus:

Everyone in Innocent had five objectives, written up on a piece of paper. Feedback, good and bad, is given “in the moment” and they are rigorous about their performance review process.

They invest heavily in staff training. The Innocent Academy is written and delivered by people at Innocent (itself a development opportunity), there are opportunities to study for a ‘craft’ skill that is relevant to the job and a more formal programme to fund part time MBA’s etc.

We all know what gets rewarded gets done. Innocent have a four-tier remuneration and profit scheme.

1) A profit related pay scheme (if Innocent makes money, so do the employees)
2) Stock options given to employees on completion of one year’s service
3) The Nest Egg – an opportunity to buy shares in the company at a heavily discounted rate
4) Pay is reviews once a year and based on individual performance

The guys in Fruit Towers are relentless about communication. There is a weekly Monday morning 9am meeting, monthly company performance updates and a big quarterly meeting. There is also a company wiki where information is shared. They are big on consultation and major decisions, such as should they sell smoothies in McDonalds, are debated amongst the entire company.

Lesson Four

Do the soft stuff

They want to keep Innocent a great place to spend 40 hours a week. This includes offering everything from a healthy free breakfast, the Innocent scholarship that gives people £1000 to go off and do something they have always dreamed of, big nights out and free yoga on Wednesday.

Thrown in with this are free healthcare, free smoothies and free massages, award ceremony (we loved the idea of Lord and Lady of the Sash) and an annual event called Nature Weekend, where everyone decamps for an adventure abroad.

In summary, they say

“Focus on the important stuff. Share the big ambitions throughout the business, get people figuring out how they can do their bit to make it happen, and be completely transparent with everyone about their role and performance. If people know whey they’re on the bus and how they’re doing, they’ll enjoy the ride a whole lot more”

So looking at what they do, we are sure that you probably do some of it already. At The Innovation Beehive, we believe that Innocent does it so well for two main reasons. They truly believe in what they do and they execute it consistently. Ask yourself how do you measure up to that?

If you want innovative ways to engage and reward your people, give us a buzz and let’s see if we can help…. Or at least we can have a cup of tea and a chat

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