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Mears Red Thread

I am always interested in companies who link measures of employee perception and real performance and today I shared a platform with Alan Long an Executive Director of Mears Group. He was sharing his Red Thread initiative, their attempt to recreate the culture of Mears that was getting diluted through growth and staff being TUPEed into the company.

Mears is in housing repair and maintenance and has grown to employ 17,000 people with a turnover of £1 billion. But with growth comes the danger of losing focus and the group wanted to get back to the state where their employees loved their jobs and their customers, so would provide great service and performance. Part of what they did was create the “say it as you see it survey” that asked staff about their culture and how the business was run from their perspective.

From the survey, branches could be classified as cool, warm or hot depending on their survey results and the management were keen to reinforce the culture by recognising the “hot” branches. But they were also concerned about performance, so took steps to check that the “hot” branches were also scoring highly on conventional measures such as profitability and customer satisfaction. In fact they were and Mears have never had to ignore a “hot” branch because their conventional performance measures weren’t good. In fact, when the “hot” branches are listed from the survey the finance director can immediately recognise them as the company’s higher performing branches.

Mears haven’t formally tested the link between their Red thread survey score and performance but this is another example of how such links can be made and that by focusing on some of the softer aspects of performance management, performance can be improved.

Mike Bourne

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