Moneypenny founder Ed Reeves

Empower your employees, they’ll move mountains with you

Empower your staff. If you really, honestly want your business to go places, give your employees the means to take you there and they’ll do just that.

When moving to our new, 500-person office it brought up all sorts of fun topics such as: “How the hell are we going to do this?!”

The answer, to my mind at least, is to get the staff to do it. Well sort of. We’ve got big burly people on hire to do the heavy lifting and serious stuff, but instead of the move being organised around the staff, each individual team member will also be pitching in to do their part.

Everyone has been given their own special moving bag to fill with their belongings, and unpack in their brand new workplace. It’s theirs, and crucially, it’s their responsibility. Everyone is excited. And why shouldn’t we all get stuck in? After all, it’s our new office.

When I told someone outside of the company of the plans, they balked at the thought – they’re moving their own stuff? First off, the alternative would be a logistical nightmare. But mostly because empowering Moneypenny employees is now so ingrained into our culture, involving everyone is instinctive to us.

This has been a part of Moneypenny’s DNA since our early days. And, it’s a good thing too. The very nature of the business model has meant that it simply wouldn’t survive without entrusting our staff.

Rather than being a faceless person answering the telephone, our service is built around our PAs’ excellent working relationship with their clients. As a business owner, it would’ve been impossible to monitor hundreds of relationships with our clients – so we had to let our PAs take over this.

Scared? Sure we were.

Any entrepreneur will tell you, handing over the reins of any job is particularly painful. But you can’t scale a business while micromanaging. First off, you’ve got other things to do. And secondly, if you want the best from people – and I mean really want them to do amazing things – you’ve got to give them the freedom to do so.

So, how did we begin to empower our staff?

It’s one of the reasons we consistently recruit on attitude and look for particular qualities in those we hire. We’ve got a clear picture of our ideal PA because she works here.

When we started over 15 years ago, we were just finding our feet with the ideal Moneypenny PA. We’d hired a few who had done an average job, but we knew average just wasn’t cutting it and still couldn’t relax into leaving people alone. Then in walked someone who would change the face of Moneypenny forever.

On paper, she looked like she’d fit in nicely. In reality, she was excellent. She blew us away with her manner and the way she dealt with clients. It just worked, and we trusted her implicitly. From that moment on we were able to finally let go, concentrate on growing the business and hire more people like her. I am proud to say that she is still looking after clients today. It’ll be a very sad day indeed if she leaves.

That was a real turning point in learning to empower our employees. The result was transformational; as soon as staff had the space to develop a rapport with their clients, we saw a dramatic reduction in client and staff attrition, profits grew and business blossomed. Moneypenny had found the recipe to scale into the UK’s largest call handling company and we are now world leaders in our sector.

Fast forward to today, and we are still reaping the benefits of a happy, empowered workforce. It is because of them we built a custom office. We gave each employee the freedom to have their say on what they wanted in their workplace. Needless to say, it would be a much blander building had we not asked for their input.

The upshot is it’s theirs. By getting everyone involved, the team have a stake in the new office – and therefore pride in the whole project. They’ve not only shaped our service, they’ve shaped their working environment. That’s going to be priceless going forward.

All of this manifests itself in something I overheard just the other day. One of our PAs discovered that her client had been involved in a bicycle accident and was in hospital, recovering with a broken foot. She instinctively sent a bunch of flowers to her, just as she would’ve with a friend or family member. Her client was apparently overwhelmed with the gesture. That PA, through following her own kind-hearted instinct, has moved us from being a supplier to a friend. No corporate process could have taught that PA to react in that manner. As a result, that client will be with us for many years to come.

It’s that kind of empowerment which has allowed Moneypenny to become what it is today. With a fantastic bunch of talented, caring people who have immense pride in their work. And in turn, I’m proud of them.

Ed Reeves

Ed Reeves

Ed Reeves co-founded Moneypenny with his sister Rachel Clacher in 2000. Moneypenny is the UK’s leading telephone answering service and outsourced switchboard provider, handling more than 9.5 million calls a year for 7,500 businesses and employing over 450 members of staff.

Ed remains responsible for Moneypenny’s overall strategic direction and is currently overseeing the company’s continued expansion into the US market, adding to existing offices in New Zealand and the UK, where a new £15m headquarters is due for completion in spring 2016. He regularly provides advice on entrepreneurship and the key issues which affect small businesses.

Want to enter The Pitch 2019?

The Pitch winner receives a money-can't-buy mentoring package. The top 300 go to free boot camps to network, learn and develop their pitches.

The application process takes about ten minutes. Find out more and apply now!