May 18, 2023

Why staff are my greatest asset and biggest stress

John Heward

How do you deal with so many different characters when every person is unique, unpredictable and motivated by a specific set of factors?

And how do you cope when your team is resistant to the changes you’re so passionate about? These are the very real dilemmas faced by John Heward.

Meet John

I’m Managing Director of JH Mechanical Services, based in Teesside. We provide mechanical, electrical and water management services.

Our goal is to establish strong, positive relationships with our clients to ensure that their building services run efficiently and safely at all times.

We’re committed to helping our clients meet their legal obligations for building maintenance and improve the efficiency of the plant and equipment on their sites. Additionally, we have a team of skilled installers and we’re available to provide a quick and effective response to emergencies.

The opportunity

I am proud to have built JH Mechanical Services from the ground up.

I took the bold step to leave my employer, who I had been with since leaving school, and start my own business. This has grown from being a ‘man with a van’ to a multi-million-pound enterprise within just ten years.

We have had an impressive growth trajectory, and we aim to continue our steady growth by focusing on what we do best. With an ambitious target of achieving a £10 million turnover, we are confident in our ability to deliver excellent services to our clients while maintaining our growth aspirations.

The challenge

Every day, I encounter new challenges and I find that I learn from them – even when I make mistakes. Perhaps the most rewarding yet challenging part of my job is managing my staff.

I understand that dealing with so many diverse personalities can be tough. It is my responsibility as a business owner to ensure my staff feel valued and understand their contribution to our success.

We work hard to create an inclusive culture and I am incredibly grateful for my team. They are the heart and soul of the business, and without their hard work and dedication, we would not be where we are today.

So, here’s what I’ve learned

I’ve come to a comforting realisation that all businesses go through growing pains. It’s a shared experience, and it’s reassuring to know that it’s a process that everyone experiences. While the hardest lessons are best learned through experience, it’s incredibly helpful to hear from other businesses about how they’ve navigated similar challenges.

I’ve learned that as a small business, staying dynamic means making changes for my team. Although people often don’t like change, I’ve found that being upfront about the changes and the reasons behind them helps.

Knowing and being realistic about your own strengths and weaknesses as an employer is important, and I always try to employ people who have skills which complement and add value to my own and that of the existing team so we can continue to innovate, diversify, and evolve. This is vital for a company to thrive and grow.

The real mark of a business is how you react when things don’t go to plan. We never walk away – we always face the issue head-on and sort it out – and our clients reward that resilience with their loyalty.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be choosy when it comes to business. While it’s easy to think that you have to get every job and do everything when starting out, it’s a two-way street for you and your client. You both have to be happy.

There’s nothing wrong with turning down a job or walking away from an existing contract if it’s not working out. Time is finite, and sometimes you might want to spend it focused on something else.

There are times when I’ve put myself under tremendous pressure, but I have learned from experience. Despite the ups and downs, starting my business is still the best thing I ever did. It’s giving my kids the best start in life.

There are too many people out there who aren’t happy with what they’re doing, and if we only get to go round this life once, then I’m going to make it count.