We recently spoke with Jamie Bekkers, the MD of long running Perth-based Information Technology business, Bekkers, about what works for them in creating a positive culture, improved employee engagement, and how they utilise 6Q in their business.
As well as being a successful managing director and leader, Jamie is a committed father of three, and keen cyclist. He has been known to ride to and from work; a 50km+ commute per day. In between handling his business, and being on the bicycle seat, Jamie was kind enough to answer the following questions, pitched by our MD, Miles.
Thank you Jamie for chatting with us today. Let’s start by asking you, what Does Bekkers do, and where are you located?
Hi Miles it is a pleasure to be here as always chatting to you. Bekkers started 25 years ago and the business was started on providing fixed priced IT services what is known as “Outsourcing” today; we were most probably one of the first Managed Services Providers (MSP) before the phase MSP was coined.
We are located in Inglewood which is about 5km from the Perth CBD; it has proven to be a very convenient location, we have been here for 24 years and are now a Beaufort Street fixture.
So when did Bekkers start? How did you decide to start the business?
I started the business in 1990 initially working from home. I was working for another business but they collapsed and I was left with a number of legal clients and quasi government organisations wanting to continue to use my services.
So I started the business off an existing demand, which is convenient.
How many people work at Bekkers? Tell us a little about your typical roles there.
At the moment we employ 18 people and I like to use the word “people” to emphasise my philosophy how I treat people. We are split into two teams, a sales and administration team and a service delivery team.
Administration consists of one person, which we can get away with because we have invested in systems over the years that automates most of our processes. Sales is broken up into two roles, basically customer facing and sales support. Service has a management level and three levels of engineers based upon specific skill sets.
If you could only give one tip, based on your experience, what’s the best way to engage with your employees?
I would like to give two. Flat management structure, make sure everyone is treated the same including yourself. I value family very highly; if my child is sick or has a presentation at school, well I am going to go; because this is one of my values and your child has the same situation occurring, well of course you can attend. Don’t be hypocritical I suppose?
“…the best team building I have done is to lead by example…”
– Jamie Bekkers
What sort of team building activities have you tried? What has worked best?
Over the past 25 years we have tried everything and have most likely wasted a great deal of money. What makes team building difficult is that everyone has difficult values; what is important to you may not be important to me.
I like to think that the best team building I have done is to lead by example; as I just said in my tip above, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Prove that no one is above or below anyone else and everyone is valued equally, regardless of your position.
You’ve been a customer of ours for a while; what’s your favourite feature of 6Q?
I like the fact that it is quick, quick is good! As it is quick our participation rate in the surveys is 100%; this allows me to gauge the mood of the business easily and I can see what impact events have had on the past week on morale.
It is almost a managing director score card.
“[6Q] allows me to gauge the mood of the business easily…”
– Jamie Bekkers
Have you noticed anything interesting with the 6Q responses? How have you been dealing with them?
I have noticed that the weather (seriously) has an impact on moral. Everyone is a little flatter when it is cold and miserable. Also noted that moral goes down when a team member goes on holiday; I don’t think because of the extra work load but because their company is missed.
Muffins, I solve all problems with muffins; when I notice that the mood if flat I immediately purchase muffins and share them among the group.
What are your plans in the near future? Do you have any plans for further employee engagement coming up?
We are constantly trying to introduce new products, new products keep the team engaged and excited; doing this lets the team know we have a future.
We are only 6 months away from Christmas so we need to plan an EPIC Christmas event.
Thank you for your time, Jamie, we appreciate it.
As always Miles your company is a blast; now where is the burger and beer?
Jamie highlighted two great suggestions for handling the responses and reports that 6Q provides his company.
Treat everyone equally
This goes to the old saying ‘Lead by example’; if you create an environment of leaders getting special privileges, you could potentially create animosity among your team.
Consider the 6Q reports as a ‘management score card’
By reviewing your weekly reports, you can treat them as a constant stream of management scores; the inevitable result being a more responsive process of discussions and actions to address any issues.
Most organisations can benefit from regular pulse-style employee surveys, and this is just one customers view on what the benefits can be. Best of luck with your own employee engagement strategies!