WGT: Creating happy and great workplaces [transcript]
Please enjoy this transcript of my conversation with Henry Stewart.
Imagine a workplace where people are energised and motivated by being in control of the work they do. Imagine they are trusted and given freedom, within clear guidelines, to decide how to achieve their results. Imagine they are able to get the life balance they want. Imagine they are valued according to the work they do, rather than the number of hours they spend at their desk.
Wouldn’t you want to work there? Wouldn’t it also be the place that would enable you to work at your best and most productive?
Transcript of this episode was produced using transcription software with an approximate 95% accuracy so there might be some typos.
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[00:00:00] Lech Guzowski: Hello? Hello. Hello. You are in for an absolute treat today. I'm interviewing Henry Stewart, who is the founder of happy, a London-based learning provider who has been rated one of the top 20 workplaces in the UK for five consecutive years. And he now.
[00:00:22] Other organizations create happy workplaces. He possibly has one of the coolest job titles you can imagine. And that is chief happiness officer. And I mean, it's an amazing title.
[00:00:34] We've just pressed record and we just let it go. And we talked about some amazing things. One of which was the command and control approach to leadership that. Leaders take, especially in crunch time, especially during the pandemic and you know what, this is what has happened to Henry.
[00:00:51] He's gone into that mode, but very quickly realized that it didn't work so that he needs to go back to the old way of working, just following the principles that they got at happy. And actually he introduces us to some of the principles, core principles, core beliefs that guide the happy.
[00:01:09] We talked about the important psychological safety and how to create, how to hire people into your organization. So how some of the recruitment processes that we've gotten out a broken how do we move managers to be coaches? We talked about how to have better meetings, how to sell them.
[00:01:26] Mistakes. So this is what you can expect in the interview with Henry Stewart from happy. It was an absolute delight having Henry on the show. And I, as always hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed recording it.
[00:01:44] Here is my interview with Henry Stewart, the founder and chief happiness officer at happy enjoy.
[00:02:07] Henry Stewart: Hello?
[00:02:08] Lech Guzowski: Hello? how are you doing?
[00:02:11] Henry Stewart: I'm fine.
[00:02:12] Lech Guzowski: Good man. Good, man. Well, thank you for coming along. I love your shirt. Is it ducks? Is it hearts? Why have you got on there? Little flowers. actually.
[00:02:21] Henry Stewart: Flowers. Yes.
[00:02:22] Lech Guzowski: Okay. Very nice. Very nice. How . Have you been
[00:02:25] Henry Stewart: a been grand, this is, you know, we've, we've had a challenging lock down, but we're now back to levels we were at before which is pretty good.
[00:02:34] We put everything online. We Greg made it interactive and engaging and people loving it.
[00:02:40] Lech Guzowski: that's brilliant. That is a
[00:02:41] quick pivot. Listen, we'll, I'd love to hear a little bit more about it because
[00:02:44] I've actually been speaking to hyper island yesterday in
[00:02:47] but what we were talking about was it's actually quite interesting of what you just mentioned, that you
[00:02:50] had to quickly pivot because everything was face-to-face. So you had to pivot to online for the past 12, 18 months, you've been designed thing, designing things differently.
[00:03:00] Henry Stewart: Yeah.
[00:03:01] Lech Guzowski: start slowly emerging and some clients will probably prefer height.
[00:03:04] Maybe some face to face. So it will be a nice mix. But then, because when you design for online, you have to design it differently to face-to-face. So initially we were adopting from, face-to-face just kind of reaching into content to fit it online. Now we've been designing kind of just to fit online and now we're going to have to do it the whole thing in reverse to a certain extent to design it for the classroom again, to a certain extent.
[00:03:25] Henry Stewart: yeah, I mean that, that, that, that big, the classroom is easy. Online is easy. The challenging bit, which you're going to have to reinvent again is the hybrid bit
[00:03:32] Lech Guzowski: Yeah.
[00:03:33] Henry Stewart: some of our clients, we want something to beep in the classroom and some people. Nah, I've done a couple of those Let me
[00:03:40] Lech Guzowski: yeah,
[00:03:40] Henry Stewart: know.
[00:03:40] Lech Guzowski: I can imagine because that's the thing it's like, but the other thing that happens is you are able to. I think clients are a little bit more open to, to space it out. so I don't
[00:03:50] want to say drag it out space now because when it was done just face to face, they would say, okay, we've got these two days, let's cram it all in
[00:03:56] but now there we'll be able to do so.
[00:03:59] Okay. Let's do this like half a day session online. Then in a few weeks
[00:04:03] time, let's get together
[00:04:04] to kind of facilitate that what we've done before and
[00:04:07] then in a month's time, let's catch up again. So I think actually it's beneficial because before they would just cram it into two days, job done magic pill.
[00:04:15] Everything's fantastic. We
[00:04:17] know that's not the case.
[00:04:18] Henry Stewart: my favorite one at the moment is something I called productivity blitz. So what We do is 15 minutes in the morning. 15 minutes in the afternoon for five days and one productivity tip a day. and of course you could never do that in the classroom. Cause you know you couldn't come to the classroom for 15 minutes, but it's it's hard.
[00:04:36] It's hard, the adds anything for that day. And on the last one, of them said it, was the most productive week in months.
[00:04:43] Lech Guzowski: Wow.
[00:04:44] Henry Stewart: those kinds of
[00:04:44] Lech Guzowski: that.
[00:04:45] Henry Stewart: of things you can do now,
[00:04:46] and that was from people around the world, you know,
[00:04:49] Lech Guzowski: Everybody dials
[00:04:49] it. We'll see. That's, that's the thing
[00:04:51] that I, I despair at hearing that some
[00:04:54] organizations are going back to completely in the office and I'm going,
[00:04:58] we've made so much progress. Why undo it? Oh God. At the very least give people the hybrid hope, but I'm really happy when I hear people or hear of situations where employees were told by the companies we're going back to the office and employees are going, I don't want to, I'd like to go hybrid.
[00:05:16] Can we, can we work something out? Can we work out the arrangements today? We're being shown flexibility and the organizations are going no online and sorry, going back to the office. And then the people are going actually, You know,
[00:05:28] what, in that case, here's my notice. And I'm going yes. Power to the people for that, because they've got that confidence that if your current employer doesn't offer that they know that more organizations that are so much more open, more open to it compared to what
[00:05:43] Henry Stewart: Well,
[00:05:43] Lech Guzowski: few months ago,
[00:05:44] Henry Stewart: yeah,
[00:05:45] Lech Guzowski: year.
[00:05:45] Henry Stewart: so I'm happy. I'll play no role in that. It's entirely up to the people themselves in their teams to decide. So if they've got a course on that day, someone from the admin team will probably come in and, you know, do some links. And some people will want to say a time, some people want to pin, but isn't totally up to them.
[00:06:00] Why should I play a role? They know what their responsibilities are.
[00:06:04] Lech Guzowski: Yes. Henry, this, this goes down to the way you manage your people and the culture that you've got within your organizations that you've,
[00:06:10] Henry Stewart: Yeah,
[00:06:11] Lech Guzowski: that you have that people go like, Yeah,
[00:06:12] fine. I know what to do. I mean, And, you know, I'll look up some stuff. It doesn't matter what day of the week I work, what times at work I'll be.
[00:06:20] So unless you've got
[00:06:20] meetings, But that doesn't happen in other organizations. the reason for that is they don't have that culture in the first place. There's a,
[00:06:27] disconnect. And my managers are basically micro-managing because they don't want to get rid of that, They don't want to get, you know, let
[00:06:33] that, control go.
[00:06:36] And that's
[00:06:37] Henry Stewart: although the real surprise is when Google said it, because Google. Is, I know that I do everything right, but they are, they are.
[00:06:44] back giving people freedom and control. And when the Google had said, you've got to be, if you, if you work at home more than 14 days a week, a year, got to have special permission.
[00:06:54] I thought is going on there?
[00:06:56] Lech Guzowski: the killers.
[00:06:56] Henry Stewart: You know,
[00:06:57] Lech Guzowski: What the latest one I heard is the backlash with apple they've announced that they will be going back. They've kind of hybrid model, fixed days and things like that in please. Leaking to the press and not happy that they kind of, it's an ongoing discussion. I only saw a snippet, which is a bit of a clickbait, I think a few days ago.
[00:07:16] And it just, and I thought, oh my God, Apple's going back to the offices full time, because that's what the title suggested. But then when I went back, went back to it. I think yesterday I read that it's Yeah, it's a mixture of work from home back to the offices. So it's fixed days and things like that. And the employees are just saying, you know what, when we want more flexibility and again, power to.
[00:07:35] Henry Stewart: absolutely.
[00:07:36] Lech Guzowski: we need. to move to that model.
[00:07:38] Henry Stewart: Yeah,
[00:07:38] Lech Guzowski: was talking to another guest last last week. I think it was about
[00:07:41] where we stand on this, that kind of micromanagement elements of control that we basically no longer work in that of nine to five, that kind of shift work because that's by let's, let's face it.
[00:07:51] That's where it's come from. And fact is people no longer work in that set because whatever creative process that happens, the mental process that comes behind any
[00:08:01] good idea or any type of work that happens out of nine to five, that
[00:08:03] happens on weekends. So Y you're only
[00:08:06] paying people for the 40, for 40 hours a week or whatever country you're based in. But they actually work in pharma. So why shouldn't
[00:08:12] they be based and graded and salary based
[00:08:15] Henry Stewart: absolutely. at the same time it happened where we're big on not working. You know, so w so we we're, we're very big, you know, you shouldn't, I shouldn't, you shouldn't expect to be contacted in the evening or weekends, or anytime like that, where it's, that, that in. Yeah. You might have barely damaged, you
[00:08:33] Lech Guzowski: Yeah,
[00:08:33] Henry Stewart: they are.
[00:08:34] But it's not working all,
[00:08:35] the time.
[00:08:37] Lech Guzowski: absolutely not. I'm fully against that. What I meant by
[00:08:39] working kind of all the time is,
[00:08:40] not being accessible and checking your
[00:08:43] emails every five minutes and on
[00:08:45] weekends. Absolutely not. I'm more
[00:08:47] talking about the mental process. That's like prices because if you obviously you're doing your work or during, during the
[00:08:52] week, And then it's natural.
[00:08:54] When you disengage over the weekend, what happens there
[00:08:57] is your brain continues to
[00:08:58] work at it, whether you want it or
[00:08:59] Henry Stewart: Right.
[00:09:00] Lech Guzowski: and you might get an idea might hit you. So this again, in my opinion, there's an argument for
[00:09:05] considering people And just talking to people based on results
[00:09:08] and the work that they do, not the work and not the hours that they work.
[00:09:11] Henry Stewart: Yeah, Yes, absolutely.
[00:09:14] Lech Guzowski: There's still, there's still a lot of work to do for people to have that self-discipline
[00:09:17] they don't feel guilty that they are not working the hours that they used to, because that often happens as well. That is like, oh, you know, I need to do work because I haven't done that much this week. So I'm just going to log in on Saturday morning, which I think is not a good thing either.
[00:09:32] Anyway, listen, we already started this. Normally
[00:09:36] we kind of
[00:09:36] Henry Stewart: right?
[00:09:37] Lech Guzowski: a bit of a ramp up, but we've already kind of got into this. Which is, which is really cool. I like when it's a natural conversation and that's how I want these to podcast to be. And I'll ask you a question. I normally actually start off with just gonna use you
[00:09:48] to start it.
[00:09:48] It's the,
[00:09:49] Henry Stewart: for them in question.
[00:09:50] Lech Guzowski: the,
[00:09:50] the question is what did you want to be when you grew up, when you were little, what was kind of
[00:09:54] that dream?
[00:09:55] Henry Stewart: I've got two answers for this one.
[00:09:56] Lech Guzowski: Go for it.
[00:09:57] Henry Stewart: one, when I was seven, I'll teach us this, what we wanted to be. And we all put cream van driver.
[00:10:02] Lech Guzowski: Okay.
[00:10:02] Henry Stewart: And the teacher said to me, but Henry, when you
[00:10:05] Lech Guzowski: Okay.
[00:10:05] Henry Stewart: to be a mathematician and I was very keen on maths and I thought, You can spend all your life doing maths, that foveal.
[00:10:12] And so from the age of seven, I decided I wanted to be a mathematician. But then when I got sixth form, I, I was.
[00:10:21] using computers to play to and to play games. This was in the days before computers and screens, all, you know on ticker tape and things like that. And I thought what I want to do is, is is be a program makes computers play games.
[00:10:36] And I went to IBM in my year off before university. And I tell them, this is, and I tell people, this is what I wanted to do. And they said to me, everybody there said to me, Henry, there's no way that they can be, we'll be able to make a living pregnant computers to play games.
[00:10:53] Lech Guzowski: Priceless.
[00:10:54] Henry Stewart: And so I gave up the idea,
[00:10:57] but there you go.
[00:10:58] Lech Guzowski: it's it's like that man. I don't remember his name was that man who sold his initial shares an apple in a 1987 or whatever that would
[00:11:06] Henry Stewart: Well, there were
[00:11:06] probably a
[00:11:07] lot of people That did,
[00:11:08] but yeah,
[00:11:08] Lech Guzowski: Yeah.
[00:11:08] But he was one of the
[00:11:09] Henry Stewart: Yeah.
[00:11:09] Lech Guzowski: people, the early people who started the company, there was, he was one of the sort of, you could classify as co-founder.
[00:11:14] So he
[00:11:14] had one of the first employees he had shares and he just sold it. It's just, it's just fascinating how, how that happens. But you know, the other thing that is, I can't believe the coincidence, the other guests that I've mentioned, I was talking to literally a few days ago, Elin Almroth. She said the exact same thing, but she wanted to be an ice cream driver, what she wanted.
[00:11:32] She wanted to sell ice cream, and sugar. And so what are the chances the same, the same answer to the same question. Four days apart.
[00:11:40] Henry Stewart: little kids often want to do
[00:11:43] Lech Guzowski: Never heard that before anyone that, that people wanted it to be that way. I kind of get that.
[00:11:47] Henry Stewart: being in the van all day, ninth grade,
[00:11:50] Lech Guzowski: You have another brother, Henry, but that's the thing that the job is not eating ice cream, it's selling it. That's the thing. but I always, and I said this to Alan. I always like to link this to what people do
[00:12:04] and kind of try and see some sort of pattern to what they do now. And the thing that I? arrived with Ellen,
[00:12:09] and she was actually surprised that, that this is some sort of being driven by an idea or hoping to be delivering joy to people, I guess, because I associate ice cream majorities, honey, sunny, happy days, happy people walking around in the park Holland holding that at 90 nines.
[00:12:25] Right? That's all, that's what it is. And it's kind of giving people that happiness and
[00:12:30] similar to you, the line of work that you're in now, what you've done with happy, this is what Ellen has done. She's kind of a chief people officer for, for Visy Becca, which is a healthcare organization in Sweden. And there is that link.
[00:12:42] And I always find it fascinating that with people in the
[00:12:44] line of work.
[00:12:44] Henry Stewart: another link. One thing you don't know about happy is that at four o'clock every afternoon, we give all our delegates ice cream
[00:12:51] Lech Guzowski: So you
[00:12:53] Henry Stewart: Yeah, I feel fulfilled
[00:12:54] I fulfill that dream. And you can always tell who on the staff is here as Jordan relative division, because they still have ice cream. That was the more longstanding ones that I spent. I had to ask him every day for seven years of the first seven years that happy. Now I have it all rarely.
[00:13:12] Lech Guzowski: priceless. What a question? What
[00:13:13] do you do now? When everything's in the online world, do you send people ice cream?
[00:13:18] Henry Stewart: no. That's, that's the thing people often ask when the evaluations at the end of the day, when you asked them what would have been better, they said if I'd had an ice
[00:13:25] cream, you know but now we haven't managed to find an equivalent.
[00:13:28] Lech Guzowski: But listen, I know there are, there are companies and an hour of a company based in Poland that actually sells ice cream online. So they've got ice cream shops all over the, all over the, country and you can order ice cream delivered providing the reason ice cream shop of theirs in the city
[00:13:45] Henry Stewart: Yeah.
[00:13:46] Lech Guzowski: live.
[00:13:46] So you could, you could potentially, if that's not available in the UK or wherever, let's start with the UK, let's start with a small market. If that's not
[00:13:53] available in the UK, job is, is is a
[00:13:56] Henry Stewart: I need to set up in Poland. Don't I? Yes.
[00:13:59] Lech Guzowski: You could do. Yeah, I don't, they don't, they won't ship, but I
[00:14:02] Henry Stewart: I think
[00:14:02] you guys should set up the ice cream business
[00:14:04] in this country, but
[00:14:05] Lech Guzowski: or yeah, one of the other sets up do a subsidiary of happy in Poland.
[00:14:10] Give me a shout. I'll help you out. Or the other way round do an ice cream business that does delivery in the UK
[00:14:16] Henry Stewart: yeah, I think that's slightly outside our scope, but there we go. That's a good
[00:14:21] Lech Guzowski: and a little bit about.
[00:14:24] Henry Stewart: to what you're good at Iowa.
[00:14:25] Lech Guzowski: Yeah, you're good. Yeah. But, or find, find people you can collaborate with who are good at the other
[00:14:30] Henry Stewart: Yeah,
[00:14:30] Lech Guzowski: do.
[00:14:32] Henry Stewart: absolutely.
[00:14:33] Lech Guzowski: think the scope there isn't, I've never thought I was going to be talking about
[00:14:35] ice cream on this podcast, but there you go. There's always a first. So we talked about happy. We talked about how can you view got into
[00:14:41] what you've what you, what you're doing, what
[00:14:43] kind of, how happy it's been operating, the challenges that you faced, obviously with with, with the, with the pandemic as a, as a result of it,
[00:14:50] And obviously you, you, you wrote
[00:14:52] happy manifesto, something that I've
[00:14:54] been been reading in the past few weeks, and I've made so
[00:14:57] Henry Stewart: Oh, excellent.
[00:14:57] Lech Guzowski: beyond, beyond belief. It's a good to PDF. So I don't run into Amazons, copyright infringements because of copying and kind of highlighting and
[00:15:05] exporting so many things.
[00:15:07] Henry Stewart: it for free from our website.
[00:15:09] Lech Guzowski: Yes, I've got, I got it off your website.
[00:15:10] Henry Stewart: need to go to Amazon.
[00:15:11] Lech Guzowski: Yeah, didn't go to Amazon, go to from your website. But
[00:15:14] I tend to highlight a lot in export my highlights to make notes. And there's a there's a, there's a U
[00:15:19] w if you do it for Amazon,
[00:15:20] I think it's 15, 20% of the book you can't export more because otherwise you're infringing. So I'm glad That I've, I've, I've got the PDF directly from the
[00:15:28] website because there's a lot of
[00:15:29] highlights. I made a lot of comments. But the the kind of the, the, the, the story that I'm really interested in is
[00:15:34] obviously you, you described a bit of a journey that
[00:15:36] you've been on with happy as well, and kind of things that have happened.
[00:15:38] I'm really keen on the, the one element that actually made you start
[00:15:43] happy or kind of you've when you realize you realize that you've, I think it was, you were working for some sort of a project where you were given a grant with an, and you just kind of within a number of weeks, you manage to spend the, the, money that was that was given to you were
[00:15:57] for the organization and how, what, what was that?
[00:16:00] Henry Stewart: in the
[00:16:01] Eighties or eighties, you know, I was a bit of a left wing activist and I had was together with other activists. We decided to set up, but national newspaper, we thought, you Know they'd stop complaining about the media and start and create some new media.
[00:16:15] So we created national left wing campaigning from the newspaper, which Those new K is it was going to be the left main equivalent of the daily mail. And we raised six and a half million pounds in, in, investors. And you're right. We lost it. We lost it all in six weeks after the lodge which was a bit of a disaster.
[00:16:35] In fact, the book it, about the paper is called disaster. and what we did was okay. A true deal for culture. You know, I often say that we should have, should have had a bunch of managers and been the journalist on that, but we instead became the managers and we weren't very good at it and we're great to Trudy or for culture.
[00:16:56] And so I left that determined to find out how you create a great workplace culture that is principled and that's an effective place to work because realized while I was there. That the IBM, which had worked on back in my year off was a better place to work. Then the news on Sunday, despite all I find principles, not ethics and all this kind of thing.
[00:17:18] So been my journey in the 33 years since then to find that how you create a truly great workplace and I'm still learning
[00:17:26] Lech Guzowski: I was going to say. I was actually going to ask, what, how would you feel, how far along that journey are you in terms of figuring that out?
[00:17:35] Henry Stewart: February. Know what I mean? Back in years, but we, we were
[00:17:39] in the top 20 workplaces in the UK for five years in a row. So I think we've, we've got a lot of the key, the key elements of it. And that's what we teach people. You know, that's what we're about. Nowadays. We start off in it training, helping people make software enjoyable.
[00:17:56] And now we, we teach leadership and management and how to create a truly happy with.
[00:18:01] Lech Guzowski: So that's, it's, it's taken you this one year to kind of get to this point and you, obviously you learn throughout the, and you put some really cool, a and useful tips and principles in your book, which by the way, there'll be links to, to that book for everybody to download it. And it's one of those books that you'd definitely have to read Because obviously you've got that you have that
[00:18:20] foundation and you that's kind of that moment where you were announced, that's where you're going to devote your time to,
[00:18:25] Henry Stewart: Yeah, I had that foundation on, you had to create a truly awful workplace, but the question was how you turn that man into integrated to the great workplace.
[00:18:34] Lech Guzowski: See, the segments are like to often have on the podcast is asking people genuinely what they've messed up, what they didn't go according to plan, because it's all for celebrating wins and, you know, it's, it's fantastic. We need to do that probably a lot more than we do, but the real learnings come from the, the times where we got things wrong.
[00:18:56] When we, where we failed one way or another or we just didn't foresee a consequence of all, we're going to do those things. Got, you know, the world changed. Things get derailed things fall over. That's where the biggest learning comes from. And that's actually what, I would like to really focus on. And in, in your time, in your journey to creating this or the, the, the happy workplace with happy or with your clients, what are some of the real proper moments where you've failed of what you learned the most from something that has gone wrong?
[00:19:30] You've mentioned the first in the foundation with the being the left, the left wing activists, where you've just in six, six weeks, you blew a several million pounds. What are the summer, some of the other learnings that got you to where you are now?
[00:19:42] Henry Stewart: Well, there's lots. So yeah, that, that is a pretty, you know, that normally beats, most people that one does the six and a half billion. There was the time when I, I sat someone until leave that day.
[00:19:54] Okay. Now that was back. it was back at 96 or something. But that was what had happened to me once,
[00:20:00] you know, and that's, that's what you did if you know, somebody wasn't performing. But it caused huge problems with, with other people. And even 10 years on, there were
[00:20:08] people who were still saying, why did you rid of David? And after
[00:20:11] that we decided, okay, you know, let's have some concern for these people, even if they go in. So, so now what we do is if, we get to that point, we give people three months or
[00:20:23] so to find another.
[00:20:25] And, and, and we don't, you know, stack them on the day and make them miserable. We try and call, We help people feel good about themselves. That's one of our five core principles. And so we do that also with
[00:20:38] people who, are leaving, unless it's,
[00:20:41] you know, unless they've stolen something or something like that.
[00:20:43] so, so that was one key
[00:20:44] lesson that treat the people who are leaving
[00:20:47] well. And the other advantage of that is
[00:20:49] of course, they leave, well, they will think good. They'll think well of you. Whereas the pur, whereas as David back at
[00:20:54] 96, probably, you know, hate it, doesn't totally fence. There's another one more recently, we're actually the being in the pandemic
[00:21:00] is that at the beginning of the pandemic,
[00:21:02] we we'd lost
[00:21:03] 95% of our work.
[00:21:05] Our classroom courses things
[00:21:07] looked pretty desperate. and I started, you know,
[00:21:10] people said, oh, this is a time for leadership. This is the time when you have
[00:21:12] to start. You
[00:21:14] know, doing command and control or whatever. And
[00:21:16] so for a couple of weeks, I did that.
[00:21:18] I started to tell people what to do. I did, you know, I, I got very involved in decisions and all sorts of things and it didn't work.
[00:21:30] It didn't work at all. And after that, I very fortunately got coached by somebody and suddenly realized this was the opposite of my approach. It was stressing me out and having a bad effect. So after that, I stepped back and allowed people again to have their freedom and their trust and people, and the growth in happy over that period has been thanks to that because you know what I was saying to do as the outfit made note, isn't what the clients wanted.
[00:21:56] I'm not actually that much in touch with our client. You know, many of our, many of our people speak to their clients, speak to our clients several times a day, more than that. I might speak to them maybe once or twice a day, they know what the clients need. They know what they want. And they were able to put him in place courses, which really met the client's need.
[00:22:14] Once I stepped back, once I stopped being involved in, you've got to make this new course and that kind of thing. So that was a, that was a key lesson, which I should have known years ago because it's the corporates, the packet that you give people just to beat them. But it's even the case in a Southern pandemic when it looks like the world is crushing and you're, you're about to go bankrupt.
[00:22:35] Lech Guzowski: I'm pretty certain, there, there are a number of business owners, CEOs senior leaders in many organizations that went into that command and control mode.
[00:22:45] Since you went into it. Why was it? What was the kind of motivation? What was the thinking behind it? That kind of just pushes that this is what I need to do.
[00:22:55] Henry Stewart: Well, it was kind of, can you see how terrible it is? Can't you see, you know, we've got to, we've got to move instantly. We've got to do this. We've got to do that. And of course, some people like we, we adopted a core, but which actually comes from, from like the Canadian federal agency, which has recognized that, that some people are gonna find this difficult just because you're doing okay.
[00:23:15] Doesn't mean they're doing okay. you might find it difficult just because other people are doing okay. It doesn't mean you're doing okay. we started to recognize that that it's about checking in on people, not checking on people. It's about listening to people, listen to how they are supporting them, helping them find their own solution.
[00:23:34] I mean, although as late as this, the coach. So that's so I think I just fell back to their old ways. I mean, I was in a complete panic, you know, my wife tells this story of how she was on, on session with her colleagues and she heard all these shouting upstairs. I hadn't I have, I keep her, I said, look, I can, I can do all sorts of technology, but I can't cope with shouting.
[00:23:55] Yeah. Hmm. And then what, I was talking to someone at the bank of England I can't remember how it got in contact with him, but at that time we didn't differ though. And we had just had loans and I was so angry about the, that they would do nothing to help the pitchers economy, whereas people like Denmark were providing, providing income.
[00:24:12] And yeah, I was angry and stressed. But three days later they brought it
[00:24:17] further. So Hey, maybe that was, it would be having the agriculture.
[00:24:21] Lech Guzowski: You never know. You never know, but see the thing.
[00:24:25] I see seen this story is you had a normal, what I would call a normal human reaction. The
[00:24:30] world is pretty much crumbling
[00:24:32] around us or very much being
[00:24:34] shaken. We don't know what to do. And
[00:24:36] I think a lot of people will find it, themselves
[00:24:39] and will find themselves
[00:24:40] in the future and see of similar situations. and that's where we do tend to go into this command control, especially if we can,
[00:24:45] this is, I
[00:24:46] know I do that. So I worked on many projects. I'm a project manager by trade. As soon as the project was starting to go a little bit
[00:24:53] pear shaped that's when I would step in and say, this is what We
[00:24:56] need to do. And I think it's that because I've found
[00:25:00] some comfort
[00:25:02] in the fact that, okay, a Gleason.
[00:25:03] Now, if things go wrong, I can say it was my fault that I had done it wrong. Not that somebody,
[00:25:09] you know, missed the deadline and deliver the quality and things like that So I think that's w now I'm reflecting really on, the fly, why I
[00:25:15] did used to do that. But it's, I think it's not in a way a natural
[00:25:21] Business owners, especially business owners, because you obviously you and your business, it's, it's
[00:25:24] literally your baby. It's something that you're very emotionally attached to. I think it might be different if you're a CEO that comes into
[00:25:30] an organization, that for them is just the job. Yes. I'm not questioning that they don't have that commitment and
[00:25:35] that connection, but I think it's different when you have nurtured it from the start, when you've built it from ground up.
[00:25:41] Henry Stewart: that's probably true. And it is my baby. It's taken a lot of time to, to and the other, the other thing, let me, let me explain another one then another one. But back in 2017 I I was still involved in intake in decision-making and things like that. That's happy. And I went to, I spoke at a conference in Copenhagen from womb who are a company over that.
[00:26:03] I was speaking with on the platform with David Marquette. No, David Marquette, us Navy submarine commander. who charge of submarine because it wasn't something we need to be trained for found. He couldn't tell people what to do. So instead he decided to make no decisions apart from the one pressing the the, the torpedoes, apart from that he would make no decisions and that submarine became the best performing submarine in us, Navy history.
[00:26:28] And I Heard that and came back to happy. And I think it took me some months, but I came back to happy. We would do, we were flat lining. We were making a loss. We weren't doing well. And the managing director at the time left, and you might think a founder, I would then get more involved, but learning from David, I decided, no, I will leave this to people to take responsibility.
[00:26:49] And I said, I won't even replace the managing director. If you see some of his Wells that you want to take on, take them off. And since then, I've tried to make no decisions are happy. And the result was three years of 20% growth and the big return to profit because people were stepping up and taking real responsibility and real ownership.
[00:27:10] And however much in the past, I talked about trust and freedom and you know, everybody's got, everybody's got responsibility. It
[00:27:16] was clear that actually making that decision to make no decisions. Made a real difference and I've done it with other CEOs and all of them when I've asked them to make no decisions for three months and all of them have reported their KPIs increase that the staff feel happier, all these kinds of things.
[00:27:36] So I recommend to that 20 CEOs on this call and the senior leaders make no decisions
[00:27:41] Lech Guzowski: That's to a lot of people. Shocking. that's exactly. That is the question that I've got for you. Why are so many people? So tight-fisted when it comes to this, that they would find it so, so difficult to make no decisions. Where, where is that from? Do you think.
[00:28:05] Henry Stewart: coming from, you know, a well, I, you know, I had it a lot at the time, you know, it's coming from, I believe I'm. I believe I'm good. I, you know, I'm, I, I think you said what you want to do now. Who are you doing that for? What let's, you know, I'm very clever and make the best decisions. It's taken me 30 years to realize.
[00:28:22] And partly because people are toasted the front line, but partly they did. Some of them are better at certain things than me. So let me give you an example. John and Ben decided our prices needed to be needed to change, to be increased. So you may be aware of the advice process, so don't, if you're on, but the advice posted is where one or two people take responsibility, take advice from lots of people, but then make the decisions, the decision themselves.
[00:28:44] So this isn't about consensus. It's about one or two people having responsibility in deciding, and they took advice from me and ignored it and increased the price. Because that was their responsibility. We decided that was their responsibility. And it's a classic case where I'm not the best person to make decisions.
[00:29:02] Cause I've been in this business for 32 years. I remember what prices were like in 1990. And so price is now a seem completely at distinct sync with where they were. And so they, compared that they looked at the market then looked at what was going on and that was a key part of helping us improve those sales, you know, a decision I would have blocked if I had been, if I had been in charge of decisions,
[00:29:24] Lech Guzowski: The decision making process that often creates bottlenecks. And this, I don't really like the fact how you've described the process, which says they are not seeking consensus. Are research and their response to my concern. And this is where a lot of organizations growing That decisions are made by consensus.
[00:29:40] And this is a massive bottom line, but I've got a question for you. so you, you would have said no to the price increase,
[00:29:47] Henry Stewart: Yeah.
[00:29:48] Lech Guzowski: obviously they were there. They ignored you. As you, as you admit, rightly So it worked out happens at happy when don't go well, that you say you would, you you've, you would have, if it was your decision, you would have vetoed it.
[00:30:03] You would have blocks it. And it turns out actually you were right. Or, or that it wasn't, it didn't go as expected. What happens there?
[00:30:11] Henry Stewart: Then the people responsible take responsibility. So if the price increases that meant that nobody was booking, then it would have been their responsibility to do something about it. they did with some clients, some long-term clients, you know, did get some, did get there. Some, some prices reduced on that.
[00:30:28] it's, it's trusting that the people. I able to make the right decision. And once they've made them to adjust for whatever's needed, do you trust your people? Don't you? That's the question?
[00:30:39] Lech Guzowski: Very true. Very true. I know where we kind of where we, where we agreed to talk about certain things. We're bouncing around a few topics. I really really like the thing I like about what you've mentioned is the fact that you, you have to trust your people, but a lot of organizations are kind of, as I said, really tight fester when it comes to that and they do go into command and control for different, different reasons.
[00:31:01] You know, when you decided not
[00:31:02] to not to make any decisions, because I
[00:31:04] Henry Stewart: Yeah.
[00:31:05] Lech Guzowski: will. resonate with a lot of business owners, a lot of team leaders to D who want to try that is how badly were you itching to make decisions And how did you stop yourself not getting involved?
[00:31:17] Henry Stewart: I'm not sure how badly I will. I mean
[00:31:19] Lech Guzowski: Or is that a question I should ask you Or the people working are happy.
[00:31:22] Henry Stewart: you should certainly ask them I mean, what I did, I mean, didn't the
[00:31:28] matter of your gift go off and go on the golf course or anything it's it is you set the
[00:31:32] framework. So let me give you one example of that we're training
[00:31:36] business, right? And there's two key elements in, in the metrics that we need. One is
[00:31:42] how happy the clients are. Right? So all of our trainers
[00:31:46] are focused on how happy clients at the end of the day. But there's also training utilize. What is crucial to the profitability of the business is that trainers are fully utilized. So another one they tend to look at, right? So in the old days that that old managing director would send them a report every three months about how the utilization was.
[00:32:06] So, one thing I did say, I said okay, at the end of every month, I want you to calculate your train utilization, right? I'm not going to say you're a target, but I just want you to calculate it. And as a result of that, that's
[00:32:18] that single act then calculating it every, every month meant that the cost of the trainer and the cost of the course went from 42% to 29%.
[00:32:28] And that alone made a hundred thousand pounds increase to our profit. So, so w I
[00:32:33] wasn't telling them anything. I was just asking them to measure
[00:32:36] something. I want you to measure
[00:32:37] something there's only one way you want it to go. You want it to improve.
[00:32:40] So part of my role is
[00:32:42] to spot the key metrics that need To
[00:32:45] To make sure the framework is
[00:32:46] there, that people are being coached rather than told what to do. These kinds of things are the kind
[00:32:50] of role that I do. And the other bit
[00:32:52] I get to do the fun, fun stuff for creating new products. that what I love doing?
[00:32:56] Lech Guzowski: Obviously you, you mentioned frameworks, but before you mentioned a couple of core principles that you've got are happy that I actually really like too, that you've mentioned. Can you? share with us some of the others principles that you, you have a happy.
[00:33:09] that guide and I'm pretty sure facilitator help the process of people just being able to do their own thing without you getting involved.
[00:33:17] Henry Stewart: Absolutely. And people often refer to these principles because they're so, so one is delight the customer. Now that's fairly obvious, but it's, it's, it's delight, not satisfied the customer delight the customer. people often think they you know, what would delight this customer? That's, that's a key question that happens at happy hour.
[00:33:36] If something goes wrong, then the aim is to over respond to it, fully delight them. is make every, make everyone feel good about themselves. That's both your, your colleagues and the clients. And that's even if you can, if you're tackling something tough, yes. Say something, somebody is not performing, whatever the aim is always leave them feeling good about themselves because people work best when they feel good about themselves.
[00:33:59] That's a, that's a, that's a core, core element. What else have we got believe the best of people. So it may look like somebody is messing up is, is, is, is something wrong and whatever, but the best thing, you know, if a client you know cancel the course or something, or does something else, or is behaving provocatively, believe the best than what is going on to them.
[00:34:19] Celebrate. That's a key piece, but when I found it happy my key mentor told me, go make mistakes and I've made plenty. And thing I often ask is, do we want mistakes? Do we want mistakes? What do you reckon?
[00:34:31] Lech Guzowski: I would say we do, but we need
[00:34:33] Henry Stewart: Absolutely. I feel if somebody came to
[00:34:36] me then the probationary period after three months and said I've been here three months.
[00:34:39] I've made no
[00:34:40] mistakes. What would you think?
[00:34:42] Lech Guzowski: Yeah. Probably didn't try hard enough.
[00:34:44] Henry Stewart: Yeah, they either they were lying or didn't try hard enough. don't want that. I will. of the things I know people love about
[00:34:51] working at happy, cause they've told me is that if they try something, take risks and it goes completely wrong. They know we will celebrate that mistake. And so that's, that is key to innovation.
[00:35:03] Ensuring things go well. And having a no blame culture and the other fifth one is make a difference in the world. So one of the things we did in the last year was we gave we've given 800 free places to NHS staff. Okay. Now there's a couple of reasons for that. One of those reasons is that back last March, and that your staff couldn't get money for anything unrelated to COVID.
[00:35:24] So if they wanted to come to, of course there was no way they could get it. And in things like liberating shorts shirts, we can talk about in moment, they, they would be really helpful how they were working. But the other element of that is I was in those early days, we were getting nobody on our courses and I just wanted to teach something.
[00:35:40] I just want it to be able to have a class with 20 or 30 people and be able to teach something. So it met both our needs. That's you know, a, it was, it was, it was helping them adjustment. B meant I could actually, you know, we could actually create those vibrant courses that worked for them.
[00:35:57] Lech Guzowski: That is an amazing the initiative or the initiative. I didn't realize that you
[00:35:59] did that. I understand kind of mutual benefits of of this. I've worked with the NHS for many, many years in my pharmaceutical
[00:36:07] days as a, as a project manager in marketing for, for them. So, and actually my role for them was creating opportunities, study days And conferences for them to
[00:36:16] come and learn.
[00:36:17] And the core principle of, of those events was it was not for the organization to
[00:36:23] make it. because it
[00:36:23] didn't, it wasn't expensive. Yes. We were
[00:36:25] getting business out of it as a result because it was networking opportunity.