Now the concept ‘Upside-down Management’ is not a new one to many of us, you know… when your boss is supposed not to be there to tell you what to do, but to support you to do your job and his or her boss is there to support them to do their job and so on right up to the top boss, or should I say right down to the bottom boss, or whatever.
Anyway that’s the theory, but have you ever seen a company that actually practices it? Well if you work for Timpson you don’t just see it, you live it!
The Skipton & Ripon Enterprise Group had the privilege of welcoming over seventy local business leaders to hear Sir John Timpson, chairman of the Timpson Group, give a talk about how he threw away the rule book and turned his business upside-down in order to become one of the UK’s leading private companies.
Sir John sees himself as a non-conformist businessman. He doesn’t believe in business plans, budgets, appraisals, market research or advertising. He does, however, believe in is his people and by employing those with ‘personalities’ that give great customer service, he can let them do what they think is right, and their managers are there to help them do it. Employees must abide by just two golden rules, ‘look the part’ and ‘put the money in the till!
Sir John’s son James, now MD of the company, has followed his father’s non-conformist philosophy by employing ex-offenders in his shops. He recognised that the biggest driver to reoffending comes when they are released, as they will probably have no job to go to, friends to support them and just a few pounds in their pocket. By offering the offenders a future, often while still serving their sentence, he has demonstrated that they can cut the reoffending rate to less than a handful amongst the thirteen hundred ex-cons they have employed.
And the innovation goes on. For example, Timpson’s give you a paid holiday on your birthday, offer money towards driving lessons, will provide you with a wedding car, rewards exceptional service with ‘Dreams Come True’ such as to trek the great wall of China, or to drive a Ferrari around Brands Hatch. Another area Sir John is working on is how to help with mental health issues in the workplace and has written a guide, which is available at Timpson shops for just £1 charitable donation.
To close, Sir John talked about his wife, Alex, who sadly died in 2016. Alex and John had three children and then went on to short term foster some ninety other children and adopted a further two. After some big issues with their adopted son Ollie, Alex and John went on to learn about Attachment Theory to help them understand why a child might behave in a certain way. This insight resulted in Sir John writing a book on the theory which is also available at Timpson shops.