Bright people – bright futures

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					Bright people – bright futures
Bright people – bright futures

Hiring bright people – and doing all we can to ensure they have bright futures – is how we run our
business at Communications Management and we state this intent explicitly in our “Spirit
Statement”.

We are an award-winning, PR Week top 100, reputation consultancy working in the synergistic
public and private sector niches of education and skills, health, workplace issues, enterprise and
property and regeneration. We were proud to be one of only two gold award winners in last year’s
PR Week Best Companies Survey.

Our managing director Pam Calvert was last year voted Best Boss in the national Enterprising
Women Awards for her people-focused ethos.

Our team of 25 people are located in two offices with the main office in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Our second office near Cambridge was opened to enable us to retain two relocating members of
our team and to rehire – for a third time – a valued former member of staff. This single decision
underlines how we put our people first in our strategy and thinking.

We're a values driven company and those values – supportive, passionate, integrity, respect and
excellence – originated from our team. They sum up our culture, the type of people we hire, are
embodied in our performance objectives, job descriptions and our processes and systems.




“I joined Communications Management as Director for Workplace Clients in 2007. I
had previously been a journalist for 15 years on titles such as Management Today
and Human Resources, the latter as editor for 5 years. As someone who had written
about management and people issues for many years, I was immediately struck by
the emphasis within the business on adhering to company values and a deep-
rooted team ethic. This stood us in very good stead during the recent downturn. The
message was that our values and togetherness stay firmly in place, whatever the
weather. It’s been very reassuring for our clients to see our people confident and
comfortable to keep delivering a quality service both then and now as the economy
begins to recover.”

Trevor Merriden, Practice Director
Bright people planning
The year 2009 marked a wide-ranging review of our business growth strategy and, as part of this,
our people plan. The objectives of the people plan are to attract and retain the best talent in our
industry, be acknowledged as a great place to work, have a succession and leadership team in
place and grow to 35 people by 2012.

The key priorities which have been addressed over the past year are:

        Development across the team to support our ambitious business growth (see page
         4).
        The need for improved management of systems and infrastructure to support our
         teams – which has been addressed with the recruitment of a Finance Manager and
         Operations Manager.
        The development of people who are "service specialists" in the business including
         in the areas of digital media, social marketing and community consultation and
         engagement.
        The appointment of two external advisers to support the board.
        The appointment of two specialist associates to support knowledge and business
         development in the health and schools sectors of our work.

We employ an external human resources expert to support our planning on areas from benefits
and rewards strategy to legal compliance and recruitment.

She has helped us to develop a competency-based model which enables us to specify the
knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours of potential candidates. Our recruitment process is
rigorous involving a behavioural telephone interview through to traditional face-to-face interviews
which include offsite and onsite assessment exercises. All new starters are given a highly
structured two month initial induction programme and after three months have a formal review and
objective setting appraisal with their managers.

We maintain a Talent Bank of people who apply to us for jobs and actively encourage talented
people we meet to register their future interest with us. By doing this we are able to fill 70 per cent
of our vacancies from this Bank. We operate a bonus scheme for staff of £500 for successful new
staff introductions.

To encourage graduate entry we offer internships, lecture to PR degree students at the University
of Bedfordshire and for the past two years have provided briefs for students there to pitch to as part
of their degree course.

Staff turnover last year was less than 1% against our annual target of 5%, well below the industry
average.



I had been looking for the “perfect” job for 6 months – and when a friend sent me a
link to a job that appeared to be exactly what I was looking for, I was really excited.
The role was for a Finance Manager and was a part-time, flexible role – vital for me
as a single mum of two children. I was contacted by Communications
Management’s external HR adviser who conducted a 30 minute telephone interview
with me – more nerve-wracking than I imagined. Then followed two interviews at
the office, the first with the MD who gave me a great insight into the company and
the role and how it could potentially develop. I was then selected for a final
interview where I had to give a presentation. It seemed a very rigorous procedure
but I believe this is to ensure the best fit for the candidate and the company.
I was delighted to be offered the job and was invited to go into the office prior to my
official start date in order to meet the other staff. This helped to alleviate the first day
nerves as I knew what I would be doing and had already met some of my
colleagues.

The induction programme went very smoothly. I was made to feel extremely
welcome and a valued member of the team. A lovely “touch” was to be taken out for
lunch on my first day with some of my colleagues – a great way to get stuck in!

Lynn Clarke, Finance Manager
Bright development and training
A total of 283 days were spent on training and development last year, equivalent to more than 11
days per staff member over the year. Total spend on training in the year was £11,600 per person.
Our team tell us that Communications Management is a place where they have learnt the most in
their careers. Our development programme has included:

      Senior managers: To accelerate the company's growth plan the managing director
       attended the three month, modular, Cranfield Business Growth Programme and has
       subsequently joined a peer coaching and mentoring Growth Programme Club. Her co-
       director attended a week-long leadership development programme at Roffey Park business
       school. Significant investment has taken place in developing the teamworking and
       leadership skills of the senior management team including working awaydays with a
       business psychologist, and through using analytical tools such as Myers Briggs profiling
       and Belbin team role analysis.
      Client leaders: A £10,000 investment was made in a bespoke Principal Consultants’
       Growth Programme for 10 of the company's most senior client leaders, organised in
       partnership with the University of Bedfordshire. The programme has had tangible results
       helping the team to develop strategic relationships with clients and identify business
       growth opportunities.
      Qualification programmes: Funding, days off and interest free loans for qualification
       study were provided for Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma and Chartered Institute of
       Public Relations Diplomas for two team members.
      Knowledge Days: Three offsite knowledge days for the whole company took place last
       year providing an opportunity to share best practice and experience and to learn specific
       skills. These are organised by and topics selected by our team. Crisis management,
       networking and social media were covered last year.
      Media school: led by our head of media delivery, Judith Hunt, this is a programme of talks
       and insights from external and internal speakers and keeps our delivery teams up to date
       with the latest developments in media and other communication channels. Last year our
       focus was on digital media with sessions on vodcasting, Twitter and social networks.
      Performance reviews: Aspire is our annual and quarterly performance review process
       which links development to our business objectives and results in a development plan for
       each individual.
      Showcase staff meetings: Every 6 weeks the whole team gets together to share
       knowledge and experience of the campaigns and programmes they are working on.
      Professional memberships: We pay the full cost of membership of professional
       associations for team members who are studying on qualification programmes or who
       contribute to committees or in other ways to these organisations. People are encouraged
       to take an active part and this year one of our team has been chair of the Thames Valley
       CIPR committee. Our Director, Justin Shaw, has also retained his long standing position as
       treasurer of the CIPR Education and Skills committee nationally. A 50 per cent subsidy
       towards membership is provided for other team members.
      Coaching: managers spend significant time coaching and developing the skills and
       knowledge of people on the job.
"I attended Communications Management's Principal Consultants' Growth
Programme in September and October 2009. The programme provided
comprehensive development around issues such as account planning (managing
clients for growth), reviewing and innovating the current client contract, SPIN - and
the opportunities this presents, proposals, costing, negotiation, pitches, competitor
awareness, and encouraging clients to provide new business referrals proactively. It
also prompted some 'interpersonal' development around listening, psychology,
confidence and coaching.

As a lead consultant on our Higher Education clients – with responsibility for
retention and growth of existing clients and an increasing role in new business
development, I have found the programme to be an absolutely fantastic asset to my
work. Already I have put some of the new skills I have learned to the test, and
achieved direct success in respect of client growth. The programme has also given
me a framework to follow in new business pitches – defining their situation and
needs going forward – and therefore the confidence that we are hitting the right
notes in that all-important pitch situation.

Finally, as a line manager, the core skills I have learned have enabled me to work to
maximise the potential of my direct reports, ensuring their future career aspirations
are acknowledged and planned for, but also that these reflect the needs of the
business going forward."

Phil Smith, Principal Consultant
Giving our brightness back!
Giving back to the community has been part of our company ethos since its formation in 1987.

Last year we continued our five-year long support for African education charity Link Community
Development. We sponsored a school in Uganda, took part in a Dragon Boat race to raise money
for the charity and our managing director mentored its chief executive. In the previous year
fundraising and donations by the company exceeded £20,000.

Our managing director also volunteered as a non-executive director to Platform, a social enterprise
supporting the training and education of young jewellery designers.

Her co-director Justin Shaw is treasurer of the CIPR Education and Skills sub-committee and his
practice has sponsored the Education Journalist of the Year Awards for the fifth year running.

We provide work experience and internships for students from schools and university. Other team
members have volunteered their time to young Enterprise and the Princes Youth Trust.

The company has worked on a pro-bono basis for Link, the CIPR and the Lord Stafford national
awards scheme for universities.



“When I joined Communications Management I was delighted to discover that not
only did the company support a charity, Link Community Development, but that the
staff had been given a free rein in choosing an organisation to support.

In a sector and climate when money is all important, it’s heartening to work for an
organisation which supports a charity in such a significant way – and encourages
and enables staff to have fun when doing it!”

Fiona Leslie, Principal Consultant
Bright work life balance
Unlike many consultancies in our industry we have never built our business on a long hours culture
and the goodwill of our people in working overtime. Our timesheet and capacity planning systems
ensure that we service our clients in line with their investment and that our team routinely finish
their work within a normal 7.5 hour day.

Holidays are generous including 26 days to start and 31 days on progression to principal
consultant positions.

Every member of our 25-strong team benefits from flexible working arrangements and more than a
quarter from family friendly part time working arrangements. These include:

       Working from home.
       Part-time working three or four days per week.
       Career breaks after children.
       Flexi-time.
       Term time working.



"My ideal was to be able to keep working for Communications Management while
also having time for other writing and home projects. My manager made it possible
for me to work four days a week, allowing me to keep up my previous role. We
worked together to ensure systems and processes would remain intact while I was
out of the office – and so we found a way to meet my needs and those of clients."

Tim Blanchard, Principal Consultant




“To get the best from their people, companies must understand their employees'
needs – and take a flexible approach to working arrangements in response to those
needs. I joined Communications Management in February 2009, on a part-time
contract for three days a week. As the parent of any school age child knows, the
late afternoon/early evening hours can be the most difficult to manage in terms of
childcare. The culture of openness to discussion and new ideas at Communications
Management meant we could talk about revised working arrangements to benefit
not just me as a working mother of three, but the company too. I now work four
shorter days rather than three full days. For the company I have more of a presence
in the office now that I am only ever out just one day a week, while my children
benefit from more time with me when it matters the most.

Margaret Kubicek, Consultant
Bright recognition and reward
We aim to provide our team with the best possible recognition and reward.

Despite the grim economic situation, pay freezes in other companies and advice from external
advisers, we gave everyone eligible a pay rise to recognise their contribution to helping the
company survive and thrive in the recession last year.

In addition, more than 25% of our team were promoted in recognition of their development and
progress.

External surveys show that our salaries are above the median for the industry and the benefits
exceed those typically offered in the industry including:

Health
    A health insurance policy for all the team which covers the costs of dentistry, opthalmic
       care, physiotherapy and other treatments including an employee advisory helpline to
       support people with personal issues and crises.
    Private healthcare treatment for senior managers.
    Subsidised gym membership.
    In 2009 we organised a wellbeing week when holistic and beauty therapists came into the
       business, transformed a meeting room into an oasis of tranquility and provided massages
       and other treatments to all the team.

Holidays
     26 or 31 days, according to seniority, including total shut down over Christmas and New
       Year allowing people time to recharge their batteries.

Development
    Bespoke internal and external training programmes.
    Financial support towards qualification programmes.
    Knowledge days, Intels, Media School and showcase staff meetings.

Financial
     Annual salary reviews.
     Discretionary bonus scheme related to company performance.
     Interest-free loans.
     Share options at director level.
     Bounty payments for staff introduced.
     Childcare Vouchers.
     Vouchers and gifts for exceptional work.

Fun
       Annual awaydays.
       Summer cream teas.
       Easter treats and goodies.
       Birthday celebrations.

Recognition is not just confined to pay and benefits. We run an internal awards competition for
client campaigns called Inspire. Every six weeks entries are invited from teams and judged by their
peers. The winning campaign team receives lunch on the company and presents their campaign
to the whole team at staff meetings. The work is then showcased on the walls in the office. The
team submitting the overall winning programme at the end of the year is awarded their choice of an
experience day – driving fast cars around a race track, sky diving, sailing or other adventure.
“I joined Communications Management from the NHS two years ago and was
delighted when my contribution to the company was recognised by a promotion
after only a year. Not only was this a welcome endorsement of my hard work but it
was also good to know that the company was supporting me to keep challenging
myself and progress more quickly in my career. Coming from the public sector
where process often makes progression slow it is lovely to work with such a
responsive company.

I also feel very lucky to have such a generous holiday allowance – this was one of
the things I expected to sacrifice when I left the NHS but was pleasantly surprised to
find I get just as many holidays as I would in the public sector. I think this is really
important as it shows the company’s commitment to helping everyone in the team
manage a good work life balance.”

Katie Fleming, Principal Consultant
Bright communications
When times are tough timely, honest and regular two-way communications are needed.

Our managing director personally briefs each of our four practices every three months on the
company's financial and business position. Feedback is encouraged and shared with other teams
and senior managers, and a system to ask questions anonymously has been set up.

Practice directors provide a monthly briefing to their teams on business won, marketing activities
and corporate news.

The team has developed its own social networking site using Ning technology to share information
on learning, sources of information, case studies and social and personal news.

All-staff meetings are held every six weeks where campaign news is showcased. These are
chaired on a rotating basis by team members.

News of new business wins, growth from clients and other developments are emailed around the
company as soon as they are known.



“Forward thinking is part of the ethos at Communications Management so we
decided to take advantage of the social media evolution to bring our internal comms
into the 21st century. We developed a dedicated social networking website from the
ground-up that is now used to share client info, events, forums, brainstorming and
highlight the charity work that the company is involved in. This resource has proved
invaluable to share knowledge with colleagues who are not office-based.

The personal, regular updates from Directors regarding our business position really
contributes to a sense of investment in the future of the company. In addition, we
have monthly meetings for the entire business to come together and discuss
exciting new projects and best practice. These meetings are also a platform to
receive training that will help our efficiency and grow the value we offer to clients.”

Owen Morris, Senior Consultant
Bright people have fun!
It's not all work and no play at Communications Management. We're a community that enjoy each
other's company and has fun together. Organised social events and awaydays have long been
part of the company's calendar these have included:

        Trips to EuroDisney and Mallorca to celebrate our 10th and 20th birthdays.
        Sailing on the Solent and treasure hunts on the Isle of Wight.
        Gourmet Challenge events, cooking a three-course meal as a team.
        Sampling wines at Vinopolis.
        Croquet, punting and treasure hunts in Cambridge.
        Horse racing and betting for our charity.

Last year we organised a Wellbeing Week – of holistic and beauty treatments for all our team. This
included lunch and breakfast on the company all week, with delicious food brought in by an outside
caterer and a talk by championship boxer Billy Schwer on health, exercise and nutrition.

In between our awaydays we've enjoyed Easter bonnet competitions, company barbecues on our
lawns, dragon boat racing and cream teas in Wimbledon week.

On birthdays everyone has a mini celebration in the office with a card and gift from the company
and tea and cakes on the day.



“I have worked for Communications Management for over two years and have really
enjoyed the friendly atmosphere. The company actively encourages us to socialise
and has organised several trips and outings for the entire company, including a
                                                    th
weekend trip to Palma, Majorca, to celebrate the 20 anniversary of being in
business.

The company also uses these social events and outings as an opportunity to raise
money for the charity we actively support, Link Community Development. Two years
in a row we have entered the Marlow Dragon Boat Race for Link and where our
friends and family also joined us for a picnic by the Thames.

We also have an internal awards system where each practice submits a piece of
their work to the award each month. The winning team each month is taken out for
a team lunch and at the end of the year the overall winning practice is treated to a
Red Letter Day.”

Vickie Collinge, Consultant

				
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