Reddico's Journey into a Self-Managing Organisation
Inspired by the Happy Manifesto, Reddico started the move to becoming self-managing in March 2018. In just 18 months it has resulted in happier employees, more satisfied customers, higher revenue and a big increase in profits.
Henry Stewart spoke to Head of Operations Luke Kyte to learn how Reddico achieved this.
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Reddico is a search and content agency, based in Tonbridge, Kent, and Brighton, with 50 members of staff. Their clients include Direct Line and Groupon.
Since March 2018, Reddico has moved away from having line managers and instead provide their people with coaches. "To be a coach we insisted you went on the Level 5 leadership programme at Happy," explains Luke Kyte, Head of Operations.
This is a 20-month programme, including one a day a month in the classroom. 90% of the cost is paid by the government, so it only costs Reddico £900 per person for almost two years of leadership training.
"It's great," continues Luke. "It's really interesting how much you can learn: new skills, new ways of communicating. I have really enjoyed the 'self-awareness and awareness of others' modules - understanding how different people can react to different circumstances. It has made a real difference."
The catalyst for the self-management model
"Back in 2017 we thought we had the culture right. We had free food, a beer fridge, a table tennis table, Xbox, all the things we thought you needed for a happy workplace.
“We did an Employee Net Promoter Score (NPS) and thought we would get 'World Class'. In fact it was just 'Good', with some people scoring as passives or detractors. At first it's easy to take it quite personally. The company was giving all this stuff for free, and it can seem ungrateful. But when you start to look into it with more detail, it's clear that something has to be going on internally.
"We realised it’s not how much you give people for free, but how you can free people to give more.
"The company directors wanted to change the approach, looked around and started to get inspiration from books like the Happy Manifesto and Maverick [by Ricardo Semlar]. We also talked to the team, to get insight of what they wanted.
Freedom within clear guidelines
"Before, it was a bit erratic. One person might ask their line manager if they could work from home – that line manager would say yes. Another person might not have it approved and ask why? There was confusion and frustration, because it turns into a different set of rules for different people.
"Now we focus on how people can do what they need to get the job done. Instead of having people work 9-5, controlling the input, we focus on the output. It has been a massive change. Some people work best in morning, some in afternoon, some in evening, so why pigeon hole people to traditional hours?
"We started with our own manifesto, 6,000 words long. As in the Happy Manifesto, it focused on the values of trust, believing the best in people, and giving people that power to do job in the way they wanted to.
"Then we put the red flags in place: targets (which the team set themselves), client NPS, quarterly 360 reviews — so if something went wrong, we would know about it. To be honest, I was quite sceptical at first and didn’t know if it would work. How can we give all this freedom, surely something will go wrong.
"Everyone now works whatever pattern they like and takes as much paid holiday as they need. Though we have a set a minimum of 20 days."
Do people actually take lots of holiday? "Well I've taken 30 days already this year and it’s only August!" says Luke.
"Not having managers was the bit I was most confused about. Who would be responsible for reviews or salary setting, I wondered. But we moved from managers to having two separate roles: department leads are responsible for growing the department and setting strategy. Coaches support and empower people and everybody picks their own coach. Salaries are now decided by a panel elected by the staff."
2018 was the best year so far for the company for revenue. However, in 2019 year Reddico has increased revenue and profit every month year-on-year. "And not just by a small amount. In May it was a 132% increase in profit."
The Employee NPS is now 95, a phenomenal figure. I know of only one other company at that level. The client NPS — measuring client satisfaction — has also gone up, from around 60 to 80.
"What's the secret? We don't have a hard set of rules in place. We just give freedom and trust and responsibility. We say 'This is how we do it, go ahead and show us you can. Just don’t have a negative impact on the team with what you are doing.'
"The Happy Manifesto was a massive part of it. All the principles behind the Happy Manifesto, we drew as inspiration for our own manifesto. The beliefs, that shift from being a traditional hierarchical business to giving more trust for the team."
"Take it in small manageable steps."
What tips does Luke have for others embarking on the journey to a trust-based workplace? "Believe in it. Go for it. Take it in small manageable steps. Have a plan for what you are trying to do. Break it down into what will make the biggest impact first.
"It took us 9 months to fully roll it out. I had to be freed up to do it. I needed to be solely responsible. You have to have someone dedicated to doing it. Otherwise it gets talked about and promised, but will not happen."
Has anything gone wrong in the transition? "No, not that I can think of."
Hear more from Luke at the 2020 Happy Workplaces Conference
Luke will be speaking at our 2020 Happy Workplaces Conference on 17th June at Friends House in Euston. He will discuss further how you can create a happy workplace with principles based on trust and freedom. Other speakers include Ynzo van Zanten of Tony's Chocolonely and Auzewell Chitewe of the East London NHS Foundation Trust.
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