We recently had the opportunity to speak to Chris Allen, Head of Product and People at CAM, who recently once again achieved Gold Standard accreditation from Investors in People. We were delighted to be able to speak to Chris in-depth about CAM’s HR strategy and how it has been so successful.
Commercial Tyre Business Interview Chris Allen from CAM
What is the importance of the Investors in People Programme and what does it bring to CAM’s business?
Investors in People (IIP) will tell you that their mission is to “make work better” and that’s been our experience. It certainly sharpens your focus and forces you to reflect on whether your business is a place where people want to work. Given the national labour shortage, it’s never been more important. Especially when like CAM, you’re looking to recruit the best people with specialist knowledge of the tyre and automotive sector. It’s this expertise that our customers are buying into and has resulted in our market-leading position.
Investors in People sits alongside our own internal checks and balances, but we’re able to benchmark ourselves against other IT firms and other employers operating in the automotive sector. We compare favourably. 98% of our team said CAM is a great place to work. But there’s always room for improvement. Extending that advantage over other local & sector employers is what we’ve been working on. With the IIP as our independent adjudicator, we are able to hear employees’ honest appraisals delivered with IIP’s unbiased perspective. That’s invaluable – to both parties. Let’s be honest; happy employees make fewer mistakes, work harder and are generally more effective. It’s win-win really.
What are you doing to increase the engagement of employees within the business?
24 months ago we designed and agreed on wholesale change in our approach to people. My new role as Head of People and Process is the first time CAM has had a person dedicated to supporting and nurturing our team. The timing of this more concentrated focus was fortuitous. When Covid hit we agilely switched to remote working and productivity remained constant. That was hugely important to our customers - at a time when so many other market factors weren’t constant.
We’ve introduced listening groups to ensure that everyone has a voice. And it’s thanks to these employee feedback loops that we recently made the decision to stick with hybrid working. We know our employees value flexible working. Recognition is also a pillar of our people strategy. We’ve introduced quarterly awards that acknowledge people’s contributions and nominations can come from anyone in the business. This broader view of the business has meant we’ve been able to shine a light on people’s contributions that might have otherwise gone unacknowledged. All packaged up, we’re now more in tune with the feedback from our team. And it’s working.
Most recently we introduced CAM Hub. It’s a bit like an internal website that keeps everyone up to speed on what’s happening in the business. One of the few downsides to hybrid working is the reduction in informal conversations. Working at home, you don’t accidentally meet the new starter whilst making a coffee. CAM Hub supplements some of those missing conversations and generally builds team cohesion. We‘ve also continued our focus on whole company events and the opportunity to join in on fundraisers too. For some reason, we have a large cohort who love running 10km through mud-laden obstacles. It’s an annual event and we’re delighted to stump up the entry fee.
The company’s recruitment strategy appears at first sight to largely follow an internal promotion strategy. Have we understood this properly?
Yes and no. It brings us back to our recruitment process. Over the years we’ve been careful to focus on tyre and automotive expertise. We know we have great people. If they’re demonstrating that they live our values, and are delivering for our customers, it’s important that we can offer career progression. We recently recruited to 3 new product management roles. These were all filled internally, but we’d struggle to beat the calibre of the individuals.
External recruitment has been busy too. We’ve backfilled the 3 product manager posts and brought in a host of new development talent. And because we’ve allowed our developers to permanently work from home, unlike many other software houses, we’ve not struggled to recruit developers. Again, it's a small example of everyone benefiting from our renewed people focus.
What is the relative importance of customer facing versus product facing approach to HR?
The only reason we exist as a business is by meeting the needs of our customers. We build solutions to solve their problems. It’s a symbiotic relationship – a partnership. Our software plugs their gaps, but it’s our people that interpret their requirements and create those solutions.
What current plans do you have in terms of recruitment and team development?
Very recently we announced that Mark Styles had joined CAM as a director. He brings with him 20 years’ experience in a global tyre network and huge ecommerce skills. There’s a real buzz about CAM at the moment and lots of new faces on TEAMS calls.”