How can I harness the passion of my people?

14.10.10 | Posted in Entrepreneurship

Last night I went to a great event at PwC (my home away from home.) They run a Masters of Business Series and it was fun to be with old friends and meet some new people. The subject was “How can I harness the passion of my people to fuel my business growth?” and Y&Rs CEO Russel Howcroft facilitated the panel including Adshel’s CEO Steve McCarthy; Mitchell Personnel Solutions’ Tracey Mitchell; Talent2’s Paul Jury and Kirsty Rankin, joint CEO of Pinpoint.I thought I’d share some of the key learnings here:

  • Paul Jury said that when hiring, if you get 20% of it right in the interview room you’re doing well, meaning that the interview is just one small part of the recruitment process
  • On staff retention, Tracey Mitchell talked about how she brought a hairdresser into the office every month so the ladies could have ‘their foils done’ and still work at their desks. She also advocates movie nights and monthly massages in the office.
  • Kirsty Rankin said they achieve staff satisfaction through allowing people to not work on their birthdays; by having ‘odd jobs’ days (kinda like a mental health day); and they also give their staff the option to donate any amount of their pay to a fund they call ‘The Tribe’. The Tribe funds are then used to help other staff members during times of need (so one person’s house burned down and the fund helped out, and another time it assisted a staff member whose brother had been killed overseas – the fund helped with the costs to bring his body back home.)
  • Steve McCarthy (again on retention) said that their people didn’t want awards, trinkets, prizes etc, emphasising that “they actually want the leaders to lead the business.” He also said Adshel strived to be a ‘dickhead free zone, because dickheads do 51% of what’s required’. Righty-o Steve!

While the session didn’t exactly answer the question it posed, it was a lively discussion around people and culture and how some businesses are managing talent acquisition and retention. I was interested in going along because I’m consistently told “all your team are so passionate about Business Chicks” which they are, and I’m always trying to find ways to channel that passion and enthusiasm.

Another anecdote I enjoyed listening to was when Steve McCarthy said that his team don’t get excited about wanting to grow revenue and profits. What they got excited about was their capacity to make a difference. He also defined aspirational leadership as ‘doing what you say you’re going to do.’ Agreed!


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  1. Andy Klein

    Emma, thanks for sharing these ideas… some great food for thought for any leader on how to keep their team motivated (even Tracey’s somewhat off-the-wall hairdresser idea!). Steve’s point on people not wanting rewards is so right — true motivation comes from building belief in the business!

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