Tom Harvey, Organisation Development Manager at Silverlake Automotive Recycling, discusses how ‘a company’s vision must be delivered by its people’.
Our industry is going through an exciting and transformative period. The increased demand for recycled green parts and the electrification of vehicles is leading the movement for the automotive recycling industry to up its game, putting professionalism, quality and service excellence at the top of the list for those companies wanting to grow and succeed in this market. It is fair to say that the days of the ‘scrapyard’ are behind us; there is no longer any tolerance for this mentality whilst the products and services provided by automotive recyclers must be recognized for their commercial and environmental value.
The current changing environment and needs of the market create great opportunities for automotive recyclers. To take advantage, we must continue to cultivate pride in what we do. As an industry, taking pride in our products and services reinforces our professionalism, drives quality and consistency through the customer experience and critically, gives customers increased confidence in the concept of recycled parts, which will increase demand. That pride and professionalism will also help to give us a voice and see our expertise sought after as plans and standards around the recycling of electric vehicles and their batteries are developed.
Delivering the vision
Having a people strategy at the heart of any business is a powerful concept and has been proven to generate competitive advantage by many leading brands across multiple industries. As service providers, where customer promise and quality products are paramount, automotive recyclers are prime candidates for keeping their people at the centre of everything they do. A company’s vision must be delivered by its people; keeping the workforce informed, managing and developing staff, empowering them and giving them a voice has to be a business priority.
When people understand the part they play in helping the business to achieve its goals, they take pride in what they do, ownership of their role, are enthusiastic about the tasks they undertake, work better as a collective and assume a greater level of responsibility. Understanding their contribution helps them feel valued, increasing commitment and thus long-term loyalty too. At Silverlake, we have seen this play out in many areas of the business. Our staff retention rate is remarkable, as it is across the sector. We are proud that of our 136 employees, 40% have been with the company for over ten years, and some for 25+ yrs. Our Operations Manager, Steve Diaper, joined the business straight from school fitting tyres! That’s a fantastic example of how our culture at Silverlake has bred loyalty through commitment to developing our staff and recruiting from within.
As a collective in the automotive recycling industry, we all face similar challenges – namely Brexit, the aftermath of the global pandemic, rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, carbon neutrality, the increased demand for green parts and the electrification of cars – all of which could lead to uncertainty amongst staff without the setting of a clear path and demonstrating what strategic decisions are being made to ensure the business continues to flourish and succeed. ‘Buy in’ from our people is vital, and this is borne from confidence in strong management and a cohesive strategy.
Regular, open communication from management engages and unites teams behind common goals, especially in a fluid operating environment when an industry is transforming. Facilitating two-way communication and making sure that everyone has a voice is important and can be achieved through an accessible and approachable management team. Encouraging a free flow of valuable feedback and ideas to help improve processes from those at the front line of delivering service and quality to the customer brings empowerment whilst benefiting the business operationally. ‘Check the temperature’ of staff sentiment regularly, it gives a good indication if things are going well or if there are any areas of uncertainty that need addressing. It stands to reason that for customers to believe in the service, the people delivering that service must believe in it first.
Operational silos within a business can be detrimental to its ability to evolve, especially during a transformative period, and historic automotive recycling operating models have included rigid demarcation between departments and teams. Fostering a collaborative approach helps to build a cohesive attitude to tackling issues and delivering a high-quality service.
It goes without saying that a good manager must understand their staff. Knowing how individuals need to be managed and tailoring the approach to suit will achieve the best performance from each individual and achieve the most from the team. Silverlake uses psychometric assessments to give a better understanding of every individual in the business so that we can give them the best opportunity to excel. The assessments give us insights such as how a person likes to work, what motivates them, how they make decisions, and how they learn, meaning our managers can make important people decisions objectively. With this knowledge, we are confident that we have ‘round pegs in round holes’; our people are in the roles best suited to their skill sets, meaning we can confidently take on new opportunities presented by the changing market.
It’s important to provide opportunities for people to come together as a team across the business, and our strategic sponsorship of the C1 Racing Series is a great chance for our people to get behind an exciting companywide activity with Silverlake racing three cars at the events.
All staff are invited to get involved and play a part throughout the season. When the races are on, staff are keenly watching the live YouTube links or TSL timing to see how we do. It’s a terrific way for staff members to meet and get to know others from different departments that may not occur naturally through their operational remits.