When we created SCUK in 2005, we were very focussed upon building a financially successful business. By the end of 2008, we had settled into a pattern, meeting our business plan each and every month, meeting the profit numbers in our forecasts. As a Board, we then started to think about whether simple Financial success was enough on its own, and we became interested in the ‘Balanced Business Scorecard’ (Kaplan & Norton 1992) concept. That initiative involved considering a wider set of key success factors for the business, and we began to think more clearly about not just the financial return for our shareholder, but also more about our Customer and our People. The end result was a clear Mission and Vision for the business, but the journey to that point involved the collection of a great deal of information from our primary stakeholders. One of those pieces of information was a Staff survey. To be honest, we had expected that survey just to reflect a celebration of our financial success but it also contained very clear feedback from our people saying that, despite our financial success, we were doing nothing to put anything back into our local communities – and that was true. Consequently, we started looking for a way to correct that through a mechanism that would give our people some real development opportunity. Previously, we had all been involved in ‘outward-bound’ training type activities through work, but it seemed that the effect of those things had always been quite short-lived.
We were introduced to Splash Projects, through another financial institution, and took up our first challenge. The participants did not know what they were going to be asked to do, they were shown a construction plan and immediately assumed that someone else would be delivering it. When they realised it was them that had to deliver, they panicked and concluded that it could not be done. They decided that they did not have the skill, experience or know-how necessary. Splash Projects gently asked them to consider, if they had to do it, how might they break the task down into smaller pieces, how might they set priorities, how might they discover what skills they did have, and how might they get skills they didn’t have, how should they over-come objections, how might they influence, manage their time, check their progress and ultimately hit the target. The out-come was that the task was achieved, against all the odds, and everyone started to realise that they had made a significant impact in the local community. In doing so, they had learnt a great deal about themselves, and those around them, and all the skills they had practised could be taken back to the workplace. A real win/win, progress for the community, progress for our business, and that is why we have continued our commitment to the whole programme now for 5 years or so and propose to press on with it into the future too….
Managing Director, Santander Consumer Finance