How can we not learn from those who have already been there, done that and got the all the T-shirts in business?
In this series we gather advice from successful Welsh entrepreneurs, bringing together their quotes and opinions, to inspire and guide you to ever-greater business growth.
Photo Credit: Admiral
Although not originally from Wales (born in Chicago), Henry Engelhardt deserves a place in our series due to the outstanding work he has done here, and the fact he continues to live in Cardiff.
After studying journalism, working as a Credit Exchange trader, travelling around Asia, completing an MBA, moving to the UK, and becoming a management consultant, Engelhardt moved into car insurance at Churchill before launching Admiral in 1993 in Cardiff.
He later created the UK’s first insurance comparison website, Confused.com.
Wales’ only FTSE 100 company, employing over 7,000 people globally, Admiral has been recognised for 19 years as one of the best big companies to work for, in the prestigious Sunday Times Best Company to Work For Awards.
Henry himself also won the Best Leader for three years in a row.
He stepped down as CEO in 2016, but still works part-time in a senior management mentoring and recruiting role.
Business Growth Advice
1. Good Company Culture Involves Lots Of Actions
“A good strong culture is not one item. It’s not about taking everyone skiing for a week and everyone says ‘what a great culture’.
It’s a lot of people doing a lot of different things to ensure there is good communication, people are treated with respect and fairly, that the rewards are appropriate and we help inspire people.”
All staff automatically get shares after working at Admiral for a year.
2. Capture And Act On Employee Feedback
“We measure everything. From systematically collecting information about how new employees imagine a great workplace to how many employees bring children to the Christmas party”
Engelhardt read every description of a great workplace from new employees, and met every employee face to face to explain the Admiral culture.
3. If People Like What They Do, They’ll Do It Better
“This means we go out of our way to make working for Admiral as rewarding and enjoyable as possible. By creating this atmosphere we believe our staff will give our customers the best possible service and the business can continue to be a success”.
“The firm has been built around job satisfaction, with the founders giving each member of staff a piece of a jigsaw during their induction, in the hope of reminding them of their role in the firm.”
Admiral also has a “ministry of fun” that organises workplace games.
4. The Internet Is An Irresistible Force
“Young people globally buy insurance online”.
Convenience, price and speed have meant we have seen sales of online non-food items continue to increase.
5. Capture And Act On Customer Feedback
“If we didn’t have any customers, how many people would we employ”?
“Questions, comments, indignant remarks”?
“Communication, communication, communication. You can almost never over-communicate”.
6. The Power Of The Team Is Invariably Greater Than The Power Of Any Single Individual
“No individual makes the puzzle. We all work together, that’s how we see the big picture”.
We want people who WANT to work here”.
“When you get the most from your potential you usually feel better, about yourself, your job and you usually get the most reward as well”.
“Have fun, satisfy customers, make money. Ask yourself: what are YOU doing to make the most of your talent”?
“People make the difference. YOU make the difference. YOU are the people who will make this company great”.
7. The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good
This quote is attributed to Voltaire as “The best is the enemy of the good”. Also Confucius said “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without”.
We must learn to balance our desire for perfection against becoming trapped in continued reworkings of projects, leading to diminishing returns.
8. Always Take Lunch
Whilst it is not easy to consistently make time for a lunch break, it’s essential both for employee health and improved productivity.