Steve Dolphin

Divisional Director for Organisational Change

Steve oversees numerous internal projects that improve our organisation and, importantly, ensures they align with our overall strategy.

Steve was Chair of our Employee Ownership Forum between 2017-2020.  During that time the group re-focussed its efforts on transparency and accountability throughout the organisation.

Tell us a bit more about your role?

Within the business I get involved in the co-ordination and running of projects that include internal changes. Some projects involve technology, some involve process and workflow, and some, like the Employee Ownership Forum, involve culture and people.

What is important within any business is that changes are all moving in a similar, positive direction. Having involvement in the ongoing internal projects allows me to ensure that they are sharing common goals and objectives. It’s all too common for organisations to chase new technologies or new processes ‘for the sake of it’. At Stride Treglown we focus on the genuine business benefit that a change could bring about.

My taking over of the Employee Forum Chair role coincided with the end of my MBA, allowing me to structure my dissertation around the employee-ownership challenge, aiming to improve the way we did it in Stride Treglown.

How has your career progressed?

My background is in computer science and I have been working at Stride Treglown for over 15 years, having also completed my first industry placement during my Bachelor’s degree here too. I originally started my role with a more technical focus on computer systems, and over time this has become more strategic.

Under Jason Pitchers as Head of IT, the team aligned with the evolving maturity of the company and began to run ‘business change projects’ specifically focussing on the wider organisational change and not ‘just IT’. During my MBA, I joined the Employee Ownership Forum and was one of the first non-architectural staff to be promoted to associate level, and since then beyond. In March 2018 I was awarded Chartered status from the CMI, the highest management accolade to exist.

What did your role as employee forum chair mean to you?

The role is 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 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 being employee-owned mean to Stride Treglown?

Longevity and a more flexible ownership structure. We planned to be 25% employee-owned within about five years from starting, which we now are. 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. The Employee Form has a seat at strategic board meetings, so representation of staff in the board room has been a huge achievement.

This approach differentiates us from our industry. We are a unique, mid-sized architecture practice and employee-ownership is working well for us.