As chair of the Employee Forum, Stephen empowers our staff by encouraging them to have an active involvement in how the company is run. From strategy to governance, he leads a group of 12 employees who collect feedback from staff and share this with our board of directors.
As a Senior Associate Solutions Analyst, his role involves taking an area of the business that requires improvement and then developing a solution that aligns with our overall goals. He became head of our Employee Forum in 2017.
What does your role as employee forum chair mean to you?
It’s all about enabling our staff and giving them the permission to directly impact the wider business. Not only has it allowed for a formal structure for feedback, it has facilitated a culture that listens to employees and allows them to work in a collaborative and creative environment. The governance of the business is now increasingly transparent, people naturally want to know more which enables them to make better decisions, and as a result they can ask better questions.
What does employee-owned mean to Stride Treglown?
Longevity and a more flexible ownership structure. We planned to be 40% employee owned in 10 years from starting, and we are already well on the way. It means that if a director leaves, we can sell shares to employees instead of onto another director, shifting the mindset away from personal gain and towards the longevity of the practice.
This change in ownership structure frees people from the shackles of the corporate ladder; instead of receiving shares at directorship, employees can invest now. This ties in with our holistic view of individual development: wellbeing, work-life balance and flexibility. We have a very engaged workforce.
This approach differentiates us from our industry. We are a unique, mid-sized architecture practice and employee-ownership is working well for us.
What has your role been in helping it evolve?
My taking over coincided with the end of my MBA, so I structured my dissertation around the employee-ownership challenge, aiming to improve the way we did it in Stride Treglown.
My focus as chair has been about establishing quality conversations within forum meetings and making the fourm more focussed on high level strategic discourse. I’ve also been instrumental in making visible to staff the impact employee ownership is having on the business. We now have a seat at strategic board meetings, so representation of staff in the board room has been a huge achievement.
How has your career progressed?
My background is in computer science and I have been working at Stride Treglown’s IT Service Desk for 13 years, working my way up to senior technical lead. It is under Jason Pitchers that we aligned with the evolving maturity of the company and began to run ‘business change projects’. During my MBA, I joined the employee forum and was one of the first non-architects to be promoted to associate level.
More recently, I have been promoted to senior associate, which I believe is a recognition of my work with the wider business. I have also just been awarded chartered status from the CMI, the highest management accolade to exist.
Where do you see your role taking you?
I hope to continue positively impacting the company. I hope the board will continue to become more aware of the employee forum and the rest of the employee base understand what the forum is and what they should be doing.
I see my future role developing into a more executive management position, influencing larger business decisions and processes. I’d like to work on the “accidental manager” problem and continue to improve our management structure for the better.