Rebel Diaries

Nicole Bearne - Company, Team And Individual Performance At The Cutting Edge Of Formula 1

November 21, 2022 Nicole Bearne Season 1 Episode 32
Rebel Diaries
Nicole Bearne - Company, Team And Individual Performance At The Cutting Edge Of Formula 1
Show Notes Transcript

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Nicole Bearne has 25 years’ experience of Board-level operations in the fast-paced world of Formula One Motor Racing. She is currently Head of Internal Communications, Employee Events and Corporate Social Responsibility at the 8-time world championship-winning Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Nicole’s experience encompasses employee communication and engagement with high-performance teams in the world’s most technologically advanced sport.

 Nicole has a degree in Russian and International Relations, a post-graduate Diploma in Internal Communication and a Masters’ degree in Organisational Behaviour. She is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (MCIPR) and an Accredited PR Practitioner.

What Scott discusses with Nicole:

  • How the organisation is a 24/7 operation
  • How the race team is works remotely from 24 different locations around the world and the communications challenges this creates 
  • The key role leaders play in sharing communications in face-to-face meetings
  • The applied science division that provides solutions outside of F1
  • How the strategic intent for the company is planned each year...
  • and how that filters down to every single member of the company to keep alignment
  • How the car is redesigned every 20 minutes every day
  • Being a data driven organisation
  • How the company operated during COVID
  • The problems with employee surveys and suggestion schemes 
  • And much more...

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[00:00:00] Scott: Hi, I'm Scott Fulton, the host of the Rebel Diaries podcast. This show will help you learn how to make work better for you, your colleagues and the organization you work for. I believe the modern workplace is broken for too many people with leaders and their teams, drowning in corporate complexity, information overload, and unnecessary levels of stress. 

[00:00:18] Scott: Having spent over 20 years leading disruptive high-performing teams who have won international awards for their impact. I've now dedicated my career to helping coach and train leaders and teams to deliver more value and impact at work whilst reducing the risk of burnout, overload, and wasted effort. 

[00:00:34] Scott: This podcast is dedicated to you and thousands like you who know work can and should be better.

[00:00:39] Scott: You'll get tips and insights from me as well as the amazing guests I invite to be the show, many of them have disrupted their industries and are thought leaders, speakers, and authors who have fascinating stories and advice to share. 

[00:00:50] Scott: Thank you for listening. I'm Scott Fulton and welcome to the Rebel Diaries show. 

[00:00:55] Nicole: There are three people each race weekend and we ask them a set of questions and one of the questions that we always ask them is, "what does your role within this team contribute to the ultimate performance of the car on track? "And every single person can explain exactly how they contribute their 10th of the second of performance to the car itself on track.

[00:01:15] Nicole: Whether they're working in HR or communications or marketing, or whether they're designing the car itself or testing it or building it. 

[00:01:23] Nicole: And we can start to look at how we can improve in the areas that we are, what we are working on. So designers will be producing better designs because they're happier, they're more engaged. They've got the equipment around them to do that. 

[00:01:34] Nicole: Literally there is a design change to the car every 20 minutes throughout the day, every day. 

[00:01:39] Scott: Nicole has 25 years experience of board level operations in formula one motor racing. She's currently Head of Internal Communications, Employee Events, and Corporate Social Responsibility at the eight time championship winning Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. I'm sure you'll enjoy this fascinating insight, into culture communications high-performance and more.

[00:02:00] Scott: Hi Nicole. Welcome to the Rebel Diaries Podcast.

[00:02:03] Nicole: Hello. Thank you for having me.

[00:02:05] Scott: Thanks for joining. So can you tell the listeners what it's like to work for an F1 team?

[00:02:12] Nicole: I'd say it's the best job in the world, obviously, but then I'm biased. It's something that I've been doing for the last 25 years of my career it's it's definitely a world that I'm very happy in and comfortable in and have spent many years enjoying. Being part of it's it's an interesting industry.

[00:02:27] Nicole: It's probably unlike anything that I can compare it to. It's it's very fast paced. Things change constantly. And and we have a thousand team members working within our team. Incredibly dedicated, passionate, and focused on winning races and world championships. Yeah, it's quite a great environment to work in.

[00:02:46] Scott: Great. And can you tell us a bit more about how you help contribute to the success of the team?.

[00:02:52] Nicole: Yep. So my role is Head of Internal Communications which means I head up our internal communications function within the team. So that's working within our communications, wider communications department, but I actually effectively business partner with every area of the organization to ensure.

[00:03:10] Nicole: Our communication within the organization is effective and supports our culture and enables our leadership to bring the best values and incorporate our values within the organization drive behavior. So it's a sort of a wide ranging role. It covers everything. Core communications. So the sort of typical internal communications work through to internal events, through to charity partnerships, through to corporate social responsibility work that we do. Sustainability, diversity and inclusion. It really covers everything. We have fingers in all the pies as it were.

[00:03:49] Scott: When you said a thousand employees, I was quite surprised at that. So what's the, kind just, can you give us a high level, what sort of departments are there across the organization? Are they your traditional HR and finance, or is it quite different?

[00:04:01] Nicole: Yeah, so we have yeah, very different audiences. Across the organization. So looking at it from a comms perspective we've got quite, quite a range of sort of audiences. We have a sort of typical manufacturing environment. So we have machining composites, which make all the body work on the car.

[00:04:20] Nicole: We have assembly areas so very much, very sort of factory based areas. We also then have design functions and test and development areas. So these are sort of desk based designers, creating the designs for the cars. And then we also have the support functions. So the traditional HR, Finance, IT communications, marketing and all of those roles as well.

[00:04:43] Nicole: So it's very diverse. We've got lots of different people to try and communicate to from. People who really don't look at laptops or computers during the day very often and are very desk less as it were, and right the way through to people who are completely fixated on their computer screen the whole time.

[00:05:01] Nicole: We also work across different shift patterns. So we are pretty much a 24 7 operation with night shift staff, work people, working weekends as well on weekend shifts. And and we also have to also bear in mind that our race team who are 80, 80 to 90 people will be working remotely from 24 different locations around the world, across the area as well.

[00:05:24] Nicole: And we need to make sure that they're included in, in, in all of the communication work that we do.

[00:05:29] Scott: That's fascinating. So that sounds quite challenging. How do you tackle that with those people that are, never at a desk?

[00:05:34] Nicole: So it is really understanding how they operate and that's one of the things I think that having the amount of experience within the sport that I've built up over the years, like I'm able to understand the different. Profiles. So it's almost segmenting and profiling individuals across the organization and saying, okay, this gentleman or this lady is a CNC machinist.

[00:05:56] Nicole: This is their shift pattern. How am I going to communicate with that profile? And then ensuring that we are making available touch points across the organization that people can access. Down in the sort of build and assembly areas we use digital screen signage. A lot because people will walk past screens and see things.

[00:06:13] Nicole: But also we're very much focused within those teams on face to face communication as well, because we know that they will have regular team shift handover meetings with their shift leaders. They'll have team updates, weekly updates within their teams as well. And again, it's providing the shift leaders and the line managers with information that they can then share in those face-to-face gatherings.

[00:06:37] Nicole: And generally where the feedback comes from as well. So people within those build and assembly areas are more likely to communicate verbally with their line manager than they would be to complete a survey or to. Send out an email or something. So again, we know that's a good source of two-way communication for us as well, so we can start to build a picture of how the communications are being received. So that's definitely a key thing with our race base, with the race team being away across the season. It's really, again, just being mindful of the time differences and the time zones that they're working on, and the fact that they are incredibly busy in the garage. So again, we know that they have usually at the end of the day is a short briefing.

[00:07:20] Nicole: Across the garage, but they will pick up email pre or periodically as well. So it's just understanding the profile of the people that we're trying to reach.

[00:07:28] Scott: Great. And the nature of the communications I don't wanna make any assumptions, but I know that a lot of organizations struggle, quite big organizations where the team or the teams are quite removed from what the direction of travel is what the goals are, what the objectives are, and it's obviously leadership's job to communicate that properly to everybody.

[00:07:45] Scott: So everyone's aligned, they're all going the same direction and probably wrong. Making an assumption that surely there's one goal and that's win races. So does that make it easier to some degree that you know, people are all bought into that they're passionate about it or am I doing it a disservice then?

[00:07:59] Scott: It's probably more than that, but

[00:08:00] Nicole: Yes, I, at the end of the day, that's what we're here for. We are an organization that has a Formula One racing team at its heart, and we are focused on winning races and ultimately trying to win the World Championship each year. That's not the sum total of our organization.

[00:08:17] Nicole: We have a very dedicated group of people within the organiza, within the company who are also high performance engineers taking on external projects for other companies as well. So our applied science division, which provides high performance engineering solutions based on the technology and the knowhow that we have developed within Formula One. And they're obviously not dedicated just to winning races because they've got other projects to work on. We're currently collaborating quite closely with INEOS on the INEOS Britan America's Cup challenge, for example, for the next America's Cup and supporting them with the boat that they're building.

[00:08:54] Nicole: And again, so we can't just say our mission is to win races because we have a number of people who are actually connected to that part of our to that sort of intent. But what we do have is at the beginning of each year, our senior leadership team will have an offsite where they will formulate an, a strategic intent for the year.

[00:09:14] Nicole: And that will change each year. So if we've had a great season and we've won the world championship the intent may be to build on that and to continue. If we've not had a great season, as we haven't this year and we are currently lying third in the championship, the intent next year will be slightly different because it will need to be a different pathway.

[00:09:33] Nicole: It will need to have different focus in order to build us back up again to where we need to be. And so that intent really drives everything across our organization from how we express and define the work that needs to be done. The leadership communications that come from that. And then each department will have an intent of their own, which fulfills the intent for the team.

[00:10:00] Nicole: So each department at the beginning of the the year will look at the strategic intent. Say, okay how does our department feed into that? And how do we fulfill that intent? And. From there, each individual will then have their own objectives, their own intent, as it were, which then feeds into, okay, so how do I Nicole achieve our strategic intent and our department intent, and that creates a really clear line of sight for all of our team members to exactly how their role fulfills the ultimate intent, whether that be to win the world championship or something that's been predefined by the leadership team and that really then sets the tone for all of the discussions that we have across our departments and individually around our performance to say, "okay, how am I performing against my goals and how am I looking at how I actually perform?"

[00:10:56] Nicole: And it's one of the interesting things because over each of the race weekends our strategic. Director or Head of Race Strategy likes to send out an update email at the end of each day, and at the end of that update email, we profile a team member. And we pick somebody from across the organization.

[00:11:12] Nicole: There's three people each race weekend and we ask them a set of questions and one of the questions that we always ask them is, "what does your role within this team contribute to the ultimate performance of the car on track? "And every single person can explain exactly how they contribute their 10th of the second of performance to the car itself on track.

[00:11:32] Nicole: Whether they're working in HR or communications or marketing, or whether they're designing the car itself or testing it or building it. They all know exactly what they do to contribute because that comes from that intent and that exercise of building that intent across the organization. And so that's where I think we can build that high performance within a team and also enable people to really understand how they contribute.

[00:11:56] Scott: That's really powerful cause it's interesting you said it is down to that like 10th of a second, isn't it? Those kind of marginal gains in terms of performance. And do you see that across the culture of the organization then do you see everyone's trying to just improve, do better, even in like just how they do more mundane tasks?

[00:12:14] Scott: Is there that culture across the board? 

[00:12:16] Nicole: Absolutely. Yes, definitely. I think we're, we are very much I suppose like a lot of sports teams we're very much focused on those marginal gains. We. We actually had an interesting, I about 5, 5, 6 years ago, we actually had a visit by Sive Woodward who is the England rugby coach, and went on to lead team gb, I think in the 2012 Olympics.

[00:12:40] Nicole: And he very much talked about marginal gains. The type of things that he did within Team gb at the Olympics. And there were some lovely examples that he gave at the time, including the fact that he identified that the Olympic Village was a sort of breeding ground for illness and germs because all of a sudden these athletes who had been training at the sort of top of their performance would all come together in this very small space in the Olympic Village.

[00:13:08] Nicole: And he discovered that. People would quite easily get ill. If somebody else in your location had some sort of flu bug or something, everybody else would get it very quickly and that was a detriment to performance. So he put in hand sanitizers and this is back in 2012, before we'd even got hand, got our minds around hand sanitizing.

[00:13:28] Nicole: But he puts hand sanitizers across the whole of the Olympic Village and made it almost a rule within the British Olympic team that they weren't allowed to walk past a hand sanitizer without sanitizing their hands. And this cut the the rate of sickness across the British Olympic team by huge proportion and just that simple act, and that was something that we, I think we've really taken on board in that, how can we look at everything we do, whether it's keeping people safe, keeping people healthy enabling people to have the space and the time and the equipment that they need to perform at their peak like any other sports athletes or sports people. And putting people at the center of the organization really enables us to look at how each individual is performing and enable them to perform at their peak.

[00:14:19] Nicole: So we very much look at individually what can we do to improve our performance, whether that be to eat more healthily, get more sleep be, be in a better environment with kind of, lighting and that type of thing around you. And then you know that then if you've got people who are performing at their peak, that then leads through to, okay, so then the output, the work will be better.

[00:14:43] Nicole: And we can start to look at how we can improve in the areas that we are, what we are working on. So designers will be producing. Better designs because they're happier, they're more engaged. They've got the equipment around them to do that. And it's all those tiny little steps that eventually come together, 3,500 parts later to assembled onto a car.

[00:15:04] Nicole: Which, which then hopefully will then. Go out and do what we want it to do on the track. But we are constantly looking for that tiny 10th of a second. The 10th of a second per lap around a race track is the difference between winning and losing effectively. And if everybody can contribute that tiny little percentage advantage, Then we've got a better chance of actually achieving what we want to at the end of the day, we redesign the car every 20 minutes.

[00:15:33] Nicole: Literally there is a design change to the car every 20 minutes throughout the day, every day. Because we are never satisfied with the way that it currently is. There's always some way of in improving it.

[00:15:46] Scott: And you'll be acting on data presumably with that as well. 

[00:15:49] Nicole: You are. Absolutely. Yeah. And it's very much that constantly, it's that sort of even better if mindset. We'll, whatever we are doing, whether it's an internal communications event or whether it's a, a part that's actually going to be installed on the car we will always at the end of that event gather the data about it.

[00:16:06] Nicole: We'll look at how that part's performing on the. We'll look at how the event went and we'll gather the data around, okay, so what went well, what could be done better? And then we'll start to look at how we can improve it for the next one.

[00:16:20] Scott: Okay, so obviously you, you said you're key in the internal comms side of things. How, can you tell us a bit more about kind of day to day and how it links to, the customer service aspect as well?

[00:16:31] Nicole: When you're looking at a high performance culture and that nurturing that high performance culture one of the things that you really need to try to create is how we bring to life the intent within the organization, how we bring to life the values of the organization and how we, how that all then drives behavior across the organization.

[00:16:51] Nicole: Within that we have to ensure that we have this sort of open and honest two-way communication. Because that is key to building trust, creating a sense of safety and empowering people to be able to speak up and share their concerns or share their ideas. Innovate within the organization.

[00:17:13] Nicole: So I think within our organization, the kind of the role of internal communications really is around supporting as a business partner. To the leadership, to managers from across the organization. And then providing the sort of strategic and tactical advice around the effective use of communication in order to be able to enhance that team performance and build engagement and achieve the culture that we're aiming to have.

[00:17:39] Nicole: We are as a sort of, as a function, we're very much the sort of I, I'd say you were yeah. Business advisors really. I'm very much trying to move the organization away from, or move the mindset away from internal communications, makes PowerPoints look better, or internal communications just sends this stuff out, just send an email out for us.

[00:18:01] Nicole: Will you? I tend to ask why a lot and I also if if I'm approached by a project group who want to put some communication out, I will quite often take them back through a little bit of a journey. Just justifies where the communication is coming from. So it's not just a case of saying yes to everything.

[00:18:23] Nicole: I ask a lot of questions because what I want to ensure is that we are putting out information that supports the objectives, that supports the values of the organization. That is in a way underlining and underpinning the culture that we have. And it's not always just about putting something out there because I think we tend to find that if you just blindly throw stuff out into, you might as well just be shouting into the wind a lot of the time.

[00:18:48] Nicole: It doesn't get the result that you want it to have. And that comes back to, again, making sure that we're targeting information to the audience, that we're using the right tone of voice for our organization that we are using. The right tools and the right channels to reach people in the correct way.

[00:19:03] Nicole: And that's something that I think is quite specialist and isn't just a case of send out an email. So that's something that happens quite a lot. We go back, we create comms plans for for various different communications campaigns across the organization and just ensure that when something is communicated, it's done in the right way..

[00:19:20] Scott: Yeah, it's interesting you say that. It's the curse of many internal communicators, isn't it? Is to be seen as the, just make this PowerPoint pretty. I. Literally a couple of episodes ago, I had a I guest who said very similar

[00:19:32] Scott: thing. 

[00:19:33] Nicole: We have a graphics design department for 

[00:19:34] Scott: yeah. Yeah. And it's always asking why. And I used to do that in my old job as well, like in digital put this on the internet.

[00:19:40] Scott: "Why?" "Because I want to" "Yeah, but why, what's the problem it solves?" Yeah. On that subject, what's your technology like? It must be cutting edge. You must have like really good devices and platforms to communicate. 

[00:19:52] Nicole: Yeah, I mean we're Microsoft Office 365 based, so we are so our intranet's on SharePoint, we use teams a lot. Still use a fair amount of email. It's interesting. Different parts of the organization prefer their communication to come in different forms, as I mentioned. There are still quite a a large number of diehard email enthusiasts and if they hasn't come through to them on an email, they won't read it.

[00:20:14] Nicole: Others will be on Teams all the time. So it's just making sure that we are connecting with people in, in, in a way that is relevant for. And we do a lot of face to face briefings as well. So we'll have after each race weekend, for example, on the Monday afternoon we'll have an all team gathering in our race bays where we build the F1 cars.

[00:20:34] Nicole: And our. Senior technical engineers from the weekend or technical director will stand up in front of the team and explain exactly how the weekend went and answer questions face to face. 

[00:20:45] Nicole: Lot of face to face briefings, those sort of direct contacts. And that's again, for people who.

[00:20:51] Nicole: Who are working remotely. Those are then streamed out via Team's live event as well. So it's just finding, making sure we're connecting with everybody in a way that works for them.

[00:20:59] Scott: Yeah, I was gonna ask how often do people get a chance to go and go to the races and see the

[00:21:04] Scott: cars? Is there like a roat system? 

[00:21:07] Nicole: Yeah, so it's interesting. As I said, there's about 82 a hundred people that actually. Regularly go to races. But for the rest of the team, so the other sort of 900 odd people they wouldn't ordinarily go to a race. So it's interesting and I think there's a sort of misconception that everybody, formula One team goes racing but they don't.

[00:21:26] Nicole: One of the things that we aim to do is the British Grand Prix in July every. We send the whole factory up to the Friday practice sessions at the Grand Prix, so they all get a, an extra day off work, as it were. And they can go up to the race and to the practice sessions on the Friday and actually see their car run on track.

[00:21:45] Nicole: Probably for some of them for the first time. But that's the opportunity each year to get out and actually see the car and to absorb the atmosphere of a race circuit. And and, just get a sense of what it is they've achieved over the winter, especially building this car, designing this car to, so yeah to get a sense of what it looks like when it's doing, its job..

[00:22:03] Scott: How did Covid affect things for the company?

[00:22:06] Nicole: It was an interesting time for us, really. So Formula One never stops. We actually now have a two week mandatory shutdown every summer. And that's across the sport because otherwise, It would never stop. It's like any technological race. Every team is trying to outdo another team.

[00:22:29] Nicole: And if that means that they spend 20 hours a day because everybody else is spending 19 hours a day working then people will, the teams will do that. So in order to have. Some kind of break during the year. They have this two week mandatory shutdown now in August when we when the pandemic first struck we actually closed for three months.

[00:22:53] Nicole: So the whole of Formula One basically stopped for three months, which, everybody was still working effectively. Nobody was. Some of the teams did furlough, some of the smaller teams did furlough their team members, but everybody stayed within their jobs to a greater extent. I think we, our team just carried on being paid not as normal.

[00:23:11] Nicole: But yeah, it was the strangest time because, a sport that never stops, that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all of a sudden stopped three months. And from an internal communications perspective, obviously we pivot. We had to pivot very quickly because we'd been very used to doing everything face to face.

[00:23:26] Nicole: Everything was done in team meetings. And and we had a large proportion of manual and Operational team members who didn't have a laptop to take home with them, didn't have the opportunity to work from home because they operate machines that were only in the factory. So again, it was a case of just trying to understand how we keep that communication going and how we keep engaging. Throughout the pandemic, throughout the shutdown, the lockdowns. So yeah, it was we had a small group of senior leadership who formed a covid task force. And we had regular. Taskforce updates that went out to all the organization. And then we also kept our weekly internal newsletter going.

[00:24:09] Nicole: And that internal newsletter really gave a lot of information about what people were doing. In that time. So we, instead of talking about what the company was, all the team was doing at races and things, what we were doing is we were talking about, what John from the machine shop was doing.

[00:24:24] Nicole: And we were, sharing individual stories and we were sharing stories of people who had volunteered to go and make ventilators or PPE or and just bring. Sense of community back to the organization, even though we were all dispersed and working, being remote. And then when we did start to build to work again after the the mandatory shutdown, the three months shutdown was finished then it was very much on Teams and keeping people together on, on that sort of platform.

[00:24:51] Scott: So any war stories or any lessons learned that you'd like to share with the audience that, if you had a chance to redo, you'd do it differently? 

[00:24:59] Nicole: I think for me, one of the most important things is how we communicate as people, and I think one of the things I've learned over. The last, few years really is that, and especially I think with the pandemic, is that we have to listen as much as we speak as individuals and as an organization. And and I think there are too often organizations broadcast out to there team members. And that by doing that you lose some of that connection. You lose some of that interaction. And I think the key kind of thing that I've learnt really over the, over the years is to enable people to speak up as well.

[00:25:44] Nicole: So it's always making sure that we are answering the questions that people have, but that we're giving them the opportunity to ask them as well. and also creating that sense of connection. I think we take for granted within an organization that people are connected until that connection is gone, as you mentioned with the pandemic, and then you really think actually it's so important to have those moments of connection.

[00:26:12] Nicole: So looking at how we give people the opportunity to voice. Their thoughts and also how we give them moments of connection. How we give them moments of little touch points throughout the year of moments that matter to them is really the kind of. Kind of pieces of information, pieces of advice that I've built up over the the over the years.

[00:26:34] Nicole: Because building connection and making people feel heard are two of the biggest, strongest drivers of building trust within an organization and creating psychological safety. And those are things that I think within any organization are vital to enable a team to perform at their peak..

[00:26:51] Scott: And the leadership in the organization can make or break that, can't they? 

[00:26:55] Nicole: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's where, one of, I'm, one of my role models in that is Toto Wolf Hour CEO and team principal. He's he has this brilliant ability to connect with people. He's very warm, he's very humorous. He has this sort of very engaging style. When you talk to him, who you, he gives you his undivided attention.

[00:27:18] Nicole: And I've seen other leaders in, in, in Formula One and in other organizations where, they'll be talking to an employee and they'll be looking around the room to see who else is there and you don't get that connection. I've seen it in the pit lane where I've been talking to people, in the paddock in Formula One and they're looking across your shoulder to see who else is there.

[00:27:37] Nicole: And. You don't feel like they're giving you their undivided attention. Toto really does listen, and he's very engaged. And I think there's a lot to be said for just creating this space where you can really hear what the other person is saying, and building the understanding from there. And it's about, the value of listening to employees and how that can become integral to the way that organizations. So many companies still they're focused on that engagement survey. We'll put the engagement survey out once a year 

[00:28:09] Scott: Then wonder why no one fills it in cuz they felt disengaged for the rest of the year. 

[00:28:12] Nicole: And also because it that's not listening. It's just asking people on a particular day to give their opinion. What we are, what we try to do is to always try to listen across whole range of different touchpoints and opportunities.

[00:28:27] Nicole: So that we can then encourage people just to have that sort of connection and that experience within the organization.

[00:28:33] Scott: Yeah. And do you share that with others then? Feedback from the workforce and then share that. And, because it's always the, it's great letting people speak, but then if nothing changes, then they'll stop speaking. 

[00:28:46] Nicole: Yep. And that's one of my big bug bears as well. I think when organizations survey and then don't tell people how it. How it came out. I did a study as part, I did a master's degree in organizational behavior a few years back, took myself back to university and and my thesis was around suggestion schemes within organizations.

[00:29:05] Nicole: Because. You started to see suggestion schemes being implemented and there's always a great fanfare around, oh, we've got this new suggestion scheme and we want you to give us all your ideas and give us all your suggestions. And then within a few months they die a death. And I was really curious to understand why.

[00:29:25] Nicole: And interestingly that we all know, obviously, if people don't get a response, To their suggestion, then they don't make more suggestions because they think it's a waste of time. But there's also a rather interesting process around the transparency of how your suggestion is actually processed. So if you make a suggestion and then you don't hear anything for a while, and then you get a response to say, thank you for your suggestion.

[00:29:51] Nicole: We've considered it, but we're not taking it forward at this time. That is almost as disengaging or even Thank you for your suggestion. We're going to carry it forward and we'll do something with it. It's almost as disengaging as no response whatsoever because people don't see the mechanism that their suggestion has been through to reach that end point. 

[00:30:10] Nicole: They've not been consulted along the way. Nobody's come back to them to say, can you tell me more about that suggestion? How do you see it working? They're not they're in, they are the creator of the suggestion, but they're not the individuals that carry it through the organization and they're not involved in that process.

[00:30:28] Nicole: So there's something really important about if somebody comes with an innovation, somebody comes with a suggestion or a new idea. Treating them as the consultant in the process of deciding whether that is taken forward and accepted or not within the organization and how we engage people to, to be part of that process, I think is really important.

[00:30:51] Scott: Transparency is so key cuz yeah, they could, you could just be like, you've just written it off probably cuz you've had 20 other suggestions and you're too busy to consider mine. There's

[00:30:58] Scott: just, 

[00:30:59] Nicole: They don't see the process that it's gone through. 

[00:31:01] Scott: no. And on many cases it may not even gone through a proper process.

[00:31:04] Nicole: yeah, exactly. 

[00:31:06] Scott: Give us your suggestions. So we're engaging, but we don't really care. 

[00:31:08] Nicole: yeah, exactly. And that's, I think that's the important point is that, if you do put a suggestion in, or if somebody does, and it doesn't have to be through a formal scheme, if an, if a team member comes with a, with an an innovation or an idea or a suggestion, or even a criticism, it's important that is taken forward. have a mantra within our organization. See it, say it, fix it. And that's something that we work on a lot in that if somebody sees something that can be improved, they. Duty bound to say it.

[00:31:38] Nicole: It's in our ethos that we will raise these questions, inconvenient truths, whatever it is, and we will discuss them. Once it's, once you've seen it and you've said it. It needs to be fixed. So whether that's something that the individual team member who's seen it say, has seen it and said it will go away and be able to fix it themselves, whether they'll need support from other people to fix it.

[00:32:01] Nicole: But it's something that's very much part of the culture and ethos of our organization is this mindset that if we see some, because I think because it, we work in a safety critical environment to start with. If we see something that's gone on to the car that isn't right. It could cause a catastrophic failure of the car during the race.

[00:32:24] Nicole: We have to be able to voice it and say and if we don't say it, and it does cause that catastrophic failure, then. We failed as an organization to be able to enable people to have that safe space to speak up. So that's something that's been really important for us, is enabling people to speak, enabling people to come through with their own ideas, enabling them to, to speak truth to power in a lot of respects.

[00:32:46] Nicole: It might be that a junior designer. Comes up with a better way of designing a component that has been designed in a certain way. And unless he's got the or, she's got the confidence to be able to speak up to their senior manager and say I think this could be done better it's not gonna improve.

[00:33:06] Nicole: We're not going to have that innovation. We lose that gem of information and so many people Are too nervous to speak up in those situations. Or too nervous to put their put their opinion forward because they think there must be a way it's done that way. I don't wanna rock the boat, don't wanna look stupid when I make this suggestion.

[00:33:26] Nicole: So people start, people don't do it.

[00:33:28] Scott: Yeah.

[00:33:29] Nicole: And that's where we really, we've done a lot of work to try and change that mindset..

[00:33:33] Scott: Brilliant. So one of the questions I ask all my guests is, if you could take one book with you to a desert island, what would it be?

[00:33:41] Nicole: Ooh. One book. Okay. If it, I guess if it was a business book, if you were looking for a kind of,

[00:33:48] Scott: No, it can be whatever book you want cuz you are the one stuck there for the rest of your life.

[00:33:51] Nicole: My favorite book of all time probably is an Irish poet called John o' Donahue. And he wrote a book called Anam Cara, which is Soul Friend in I Am Gaelic. And it's very much the sort of wisdom of the Celtic traditions spiritual wisdom of the Celtic tradition.

[00:34:07] Nicole: So that's one book that I go back to for, spiritual and uplifting inspiration from time to time. It's beautifully written. But otherwise, looking at the world that I live in and internal communications, I would go to anything by Amy Edmondson on psychological safety. David Marque I'm also.

[00:34:26] Nicole: Rereading Matthew Syed's book, Black Box Thinking at the moment as well. That's another really good book on getting people to speak up.

[00:34:33] Scott: Brilliant. I'll link to those in the show notes so thank you. If anyone wants to get in touch with you, what's the best way to do that? 

[00:34:39] Nicole: I'm on LinkedIn, so yeah, absolutely. Happy to connect.

[00:34:43] Scott: And I'll put the link into the show notes as well for that. So Nicole, thank you for being on the show. It's been great chatting. 

[00:34:48] Nicole: Thank you so much. 

[00:34:49] Scott: A big, thank you for listening to the Rebel Diaries show your time is precious, so it is appreciated. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app of choice so you don't miss the next one. There's a new episode every Monday morning, ideal for your commute to work or early morning walk. 

[00:35:06] Scott: Until next time, take care be a rebel and deliver work with impact.