The crucial business lesson Naomi Simson learned the hard way

“People are at the centre of any businesses success.”

The crucial business lesson Naomi Simson learned the hard way

“People are at the centre of any businesses success.”

Founding a business can be really exciting – but as you begin to grow your business it can sometimes seem that it owns you, rather than you owning it. The ‘to do list’ is never ending… you have people around you that seem very busy – but you’re not always sure that they are working on the right thing.

I learned the hard way about the challenges of leading a team… and I have talked about it often. I feel that if I share some of my failures as a leader (without wearing my heart on my sleeve) then perhaps others can avoid these pitfalls.

Peter Hooymans, founder of Melbourne Real Estate, had heard my story… in March 2015, with a team of 27, he was beginning to feel my pain. The real estate industry is notorious for it’s high turnover of employees. Yet Peter was trying to do it differently. His business had grown quickly, but he was losing people just as fast as he was hiring them. Staff turnover had reached more than 60%, in fact, it was closer to 70%. (I know his pain – in 2006 RedBalloon had team churn of 64%).

Peter had heard what I had done to fix this – my focus on the employee experience and building a framework to deliver on the strategy and plan. People are at the centre of any businesses success. This sounds clichéd and trite – because these words get bandied around all the time. Saying it is one thing, living it is something completely different.

Peter believed that he needed a framework and platform to focus the team, so in March 2015, Melbourne Real Estate deployed Peter had no intention of ticking a box and appearing that he was ‘loving his people’, he had robust commercial outcomes that he was seeking to achieve with the framework.

Since that time his team has nearly doubled in size (pictured). He has been using recognition as one of the pillars that have created growth and strategic value to his enterprise.

“People are at the centre of any businesses success.”

Each of the awards established by the business is purposeful. It is designed to achieve a business result. For example, Peter believes that receiving Google reviews is important to the commercial success of the business… so he set up a “Google Review” award. This award was created to reward those who assisted in boosting the organic traffic to his site Organic traffic or SEO was paramount for the online success of the business, therefore, management asked all it’s employees to encourage their clients to leave a Google review, of course stating the name of the employee they were dealing with.

The results speak for themselves. All you need to do is Google “real estate Melbourne” and you will see the website, ranking in #1 organic position, and here is the evidence of the +450 reviews that the company has had since setting the “Google Review” award.

Each team member is able to celebrate the wins of his or her peers. Success factors for this program is the ability to use peer to peer recognition to make those extraordinary wins an everyday celebration between employees. From a management point of view, success is clearly identifiable as every award is created strategically to keep the growth of the business happening at a fast pace.

“Success factors for this program is the ability to use peer to peer recognition to make those extraordinary wins an everyday celebration between employees.”

But the real winner has been the massive shift in retention. Attrition has gone from 60-70% prior to the year of implementing Redii and the strategic overhaul – the past two years have shifted the attrition bar to under 10%. Imagine what this does to the cost base of the business…the time saved in recruitment. The implementation of Redii and the increased prioritisation of engagement, talent and retention initiatives led to significant and tangible shifts in excellence.

Employee engagement has been measured throughout the period since the implementation of the framework and their results are better than ever (e-NPS at +86% and employee satisfaction 9.4 out of 10).

I love working with clients like Peter – as a leader of the business determined to grow – he took responsibility for consistently and effectively rolling out a framework that would deliver results. He knows that it is a journey and that the employee experience is never ending. It is the platform that has given him a foundation to execute on his vision.

This article was first published on Naomi’s LinkedIn page and has been republished with full permission.

Naomi Simson is the founding director of Australian online tech success story RedBalloon and Redii. She has written more than 1000 blog posts at, is a professional speaker, author of Live What You Love & Ready To Soar and is one of five “Sharks” on TEN’s business reality show Shark Tank.

This article was originally published on Business Chicks

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