Putting supportive human connection at the core of your business

For Philippe Symons, tuning in to the needs of others is a core value of his business. Having served as CEO for 2 different divisions of Sodexo over the last 9 years, a company with 420,000 employees in 80 countries, he is well-versed in what is required to lead a successful service-orientated company.

In business, having a sound people strategy is an essential consideration in parallel with the business strategy.  “Both are equally as important for the success of a company” he states.

Team spirit is the difference between competition in the workplace and the understanding that we are all working towards the same goal […] together we can create something stronger than we could as individuals.

This much is also evident at the personal level, as his eyes light up when he speaks about the 2 things that give him great pleasure:

1.     “When my staff flourish, gaining promotion and scaling heights that perhaps they might not have initially thought possible, that gives me great joy. In fact, I call this as a good problem to have. Indeed I have to find someone new to fill the role, but it is the best reason to replace someone so it makes me very happy”.

1.     “When I exceed a challenging professional goal that I have set for myself, I give myself some time to celebrate. I deserve it!”

Thus we can feel the importance of bringing a sense of humanity into the workplace, something that is essential for Phillipe.

He lays out the core values of Sodexo, which were established by the founder Pierre Bellon over 50 years ago, and which still stand today, along with Mr Bellon, who now serves as the Chairman.

·       Service Spirit – Being proud to serve others, being available to listen to their needs, being responsive and empowered to make decisions to ensure the client is given a better service

·       Team Spirit – co-creation and relationship building – This requires listening, transparency, respect for others, diversity and mutual support amongst other things.

·       Spirit of Progress – striving to be better, ability for self-assessment, understanding one’s successes failures are fundamental to continuous improvement, a balance between humility and ambition as well as a positive outlook.

What does this mean on a day-to-day basis, on a practical level?

Service spirit really is about empathy, the ability to tune into the feelings and needs of the other. This is one of the cornerstones of healthy relationship and the ability to be in service of another.

Team spirit is the difference between competition in the workplace and the understanding that we are all working towards the same goal and that together we can create something stronger than we could as individuals. This includes supporting others and being open and inclusive.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of each other, not just the role of Human Resources. We are all responsible for being there for each other, for being receptive to others”

“It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of each other […] for being there for each other, for being receptive to others”

Building strong relationships is important. Key to this is communication, which requires being open to the other party’s viewpoint. “There is always room for dialogue”, says Philippe, even in a crisis situation like the closing of a factory.

Spirit of Progress is about not being complacent, the ability to seek personal and professional growth by setting yourself personal and professional challenges. When asked about his view on mistakes and failure Philippe was very clear, “Mistakes and failure are an important part of achieving success. If you are not making mistakes you are probably not taking enough risks. Mistakes are a great invitation for us to grow.

“Mistakes and failure are an important part of achieving success. If you are not making mistakes you are probably not taking enough risks.

Philippe strongly believes that personal development is fundamentally linked to professional development. Work is a huge part of our lives and our lives so personal development. Thus he sees personal development as critical for professional growth.

On the topic of mistakes and failure, having a positive outlook is great asset. In fact he is famous (or should that be infamous) for the saying

“Don’t be afraid of the fact that the glass is half-empty, because at the same time it is also half-full.”

Pulzz offers an app combined with experiential training to empower employees to create a better workplace for themselves and others, based on our expertise in mindfulness and neuroscience with our extensive experience in management . To learn more, get in touch with us at imraan@pulzz.be or olivier@pulzz.be or go to www.pulzz.be