Winner of the Excellence in the Management of People award for 2018, category for medium enterprises
Rule number 1: get feedback and act on it
What works for a 50-year-old might not work for a 25-year-old. What works for a computer programmer might not work for a human resources practitioner. What works for an introvert might not work for an extrovert. What works today might not work next year. With so many variables in the people management mix, there is only one hard-and-fast rule for Teryl Schroenn, CEO of multiple award-winning Accsys.
“Constantly ask people for feedback and when you realise that something is working well, make sure that it happens on a regular basis as opposed to by accident,” she says. “If the feedback shows that it isn’t working or no longer works, adapt.”
This very morning, while having a breakfast session with nine new employees – only one of whom was under 30 – Teryl asked what was working for them and what wasn’t.
“They gave very positive feedback on the culture we are trying to put in here,” she says. “One of the things they commented on was that ‘the CEO actually knows our names’.”
Accsys has about 90 employees, which means quite a few names to remember, and Teryl goes beyond that if she possibly can. “I try to remember how many children people have and what their interests are. People are not resources. It’s important to me to connect with the people here.”
What people do sometimes find surprising, she says, is her preference for an office with four walls and a door.
“Some people say management should get away from the ‘corner office’ and make everything open plan. I’m not a fan because we work with a lot of confidential documents. I do spend a lot of time in the open-plan space, though, and also going out with my salespeople on appointments. That’s always a good time to strategise with people about what they are going to say. We try to empower rather than manage.”
Something new at Accsys is the mentorship programme that was recently introduced. “We’ve been doing mentoring all along but this is a bit more structured,” says Teryl.
In fact, the mentorship programme is the perfect example of what she means about turning spontaneous or sporadic successes into a regular process or procedure.
“In a business, sometimes good things do just happen and they are lovely but informal, so they create pockets of excellence without spreading. People management and agile leadership are about picking up on those good things and making them happen regularly.”