Problem Solver: How did you reward your innovating staff?
Q: How did you reward your staff in Superquinn for coming up with great innovations?
A: We had a whole series of different initiatives which we would run. There was a formal innovation scheme where if an idea could be successfully implemented, the staff received a percentage of the profit we subsequently made on this.
Very often the ideas that came through were highly successful as our colleagues on the ground clearly understood the needs of the consumer so the ideas that they came up with had a great chance of survival.
From time to time we would encourage more innovation through running an annual competition which would recognise colleagues who had created some extraordinary change in the business.
The secret to these competitions was to create a hero out of the originator of the idea and get them to champion the role out of the idea throughout the company. We very often facilitated these 'originators' of ideas to travel from branch to branch to help store managers implement new ideas in the way that it was originally envisaged.
If you are thinking about encouraging your staff to innovate more then you have to send a very clear signal that you are open to new ideas, make heroes of those who innovate and get your senior management to help those that are innovating by providing support and backup to bring their idea to fruition.
Q: If you were starting a business all over again what would that business be?
A: What a great question - but I am not sure I have an exact answer for you! I have greatly enjoyed my experiences in Superquinn and together with the team it allowed me to create something very unique. That is hard to match.
As I have mentioned in the past I grew up in my father's holiday camp in Red Island in Skerries and that was also a fantastic training. My father's ethos was to ensure that our guests had a great experience from the moment they arrived until they left.
So I am always advising people if they have a choice of where to grow up then do so in a holiday camp. It is just a great experience. I am certainly clear in my mind that if I was to start all over again my career would definitely involve customers, almost certainly involve food and, while I might travel the world at a younger age the next time round, I would still love my business to be based in Ireland. My advice to anyone reading this and thinking about where to start off is to follow your passion and do the things that appeal to you most… the rest will fall into place for you! Most of all pick a business that you enjoy!
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