29th June 2018

Celebrating EO Day – What we’ve learned in a year

Approximately 12 months ago we took a tremendous step forward in securing the future growth of Tangerine by becoming Employee-Owned (EO). We made the announcement on 13 July 2017 and now – almost a year on, we’re about to help our fellow UK EO businesses celebrate EO Day.

So what’s changed?  What’s been the impact? In truth, very little. But actually, and surprisingly, we’ve realised this is a good thing, for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, had there been a need for a big culture shift within the business, then EO status would not have been the right step for us. Why? I guess it’s because whatever step we chose to take to aid succession, our biggest fear was the route we took might alter the ethos, personality and vision of the business.

EO status has only cemented these further. In truth, our culture has not really changed.

Also, it has showed us all that the way Tangerine has always operated already fitted an EO model; key aspects being entrepreneurialism, inclusion, open-mindedness, bravery and honesty.

EO businesses cannot operate behind closed doors. To truly be run by the people who work in it, an EO business has to embrace all the positive aspects of being an open book, as well as the seemingly scary parts.

By this I mean many business owners baulk when they hear how they may have to consult and gain approval from wider groups before they can make certain decisions, or shock horror, they have to tell people where the profit within the business really goes!

We’ve actually taken the opposite step and embraced this commercial openness – because we did so much of it already. In fact, our regular ‘Price is Right – Higher or Lower’ game which lightheartedly tests the team on where the business is spending money and whether it should/could be ‘higher or lower’, is starting to become a bit of a thing! And for all its silliness, it is helping every single member of the team learn crucial commercial skills.

I think we’ve also learned whatever big change you make in a business, people come along with you at different times and you have to be ready to accept and acknowledge that, but persevere until you see the light bulb moments. (Tax-free bonuses did help light a few bulbs!)

But crucially, as the 12 months have progressed, I’ve been heartened by the suggestions the team has made. The operational decisions they’re analysing together and re-thinking and overall, the way they’re increasingly seeing the joint benefit of being a successful business and what goes into making this happen.

15 years ago, I never thought I’d run my own business and I daresay, 80% of the team had perhaps never considered it before last year. But now they do – and as we celebrate our first year of EO status, we’re all looking forward to many more successful years as the future of Tangerine remains firmly in the hands of those who nurture, grow and improve it day in, day out. As it should be.

Happy EO Day UK!

 

By Sarah Halton, Founding Director