When we select staff and trainee guides, we focus on what motivates them and what they are passionate about, as well as on current ability. We have a talented team, motivated to excel and go ‘above and beyond’ as part of our commitment to achieving results. We believe in supporting their chosen lifestyle, in developing their potential and in rewarding hard work.
The work environment is supportive and team oriented. Staff know that their input, drive, creativity and innovation is valued as much as a strong work ethic, commitment to each other and a positive ‘can try’ attitude. We continually challenge people to adopt lean working styles and systems since a lot of the daily processes are repetitive and need to be carried out consistently and effectively for the sake of the animals. To this end, everyday tasks are very process driven with clearly defined tasks and timelines. We also culture flexibility since in the client season in particular, change is a constant companion and staff need to be comfortable with this as a positive process and maintain strong self-awareness, so that we can build on existing strengths and challenge areas needing improvement.
Through a process of experiential education and open feedback, each staff member is first mentored and then trained to mentor others. New staff have clear learning targets in terms of both hard skills (safari, climate, computer and dog-related) and soft skills (people and project management related) that they are expected to reach within specific timelines. The longer that people are with us, the more responsibility (within their own abilities) they are expected to shoulder and the longer the list of personal projects and goals they are expected to manage independently. At the same time, the long-termers also benefit from a greater access to training budgets, staff training trips and cultural outings through the seasons. This is all part of our ongoing commitment to life-long learning and their personal growth.
Although we grow roles as our and our staff’s capabilities grow, and although the responsibility and ownership that people are given in their work tends to prolong their time with us, we endeavour to work with staff when they grow beyond our business and need to find their next great life challenge. Through our strong industry contacts, we have helped staff move on to expeditionary leadership, guiding and outdoor retail roles across Europe and we hope to continue to do this in the future.
When staff move on, they generally do so as rounder, more confident individuals, more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and having had their limits tested. It is maybe because of this that many take time out from serious careers to return, time and again, for the challenge of the hardest part of our winter season.
• The client defines the job well done. They are ruthless if you let them down. Never let that be said of us.
• Quality is the measure by which you exceed expectations. Quality is all about standards. Keep it simple; set high standards and then exceed them. Meet, Beat, Repeat.
• Nurture integrity. Not only professional but personal.
• Communicate, communicate, communicate.
• Get in the lead and stay there. Stand out from the crowd.
• Face the storm. A storm always looks worst from inside a tent. Step out and forward purposefully.
• Don´t wait for someone else to clean up after you – just get it done.
• Be up front, open, tell the truth and never cover up. Accept responsibility. Personal responsibility and accountability is key. Your reputation is your premium defence. Guard it jealously. Reputations are built over a lifetime. Destroyed in an instant.
• Know when to work together and when to work alone.
• Try the tried processes, understand that there may be a bigger picture ‘why’ behind them and find out what that is. Only then suggest changing them if you feel like you have a better idea.
• One step at a time. The first is the most important.
• No-one is too new to the team to contribute a good idea.
• If someone new is not following the processes well, they haven’t been trained well.
• Never lower your goals.
• Believe in yourself. Set micro-tasks and complete them.
• Look for the big picture. Everything, here, goes in cycles.
• Act rather than think too long, in times of pressure. You have trained for those times. Your instincts will be right.
• Follow the negatives with positives. The aim is to build rather than tear down.
• Trust your colleagues
• Invent different ways of working
• Believe that together we can do anything
• To be out front can be lonely and uncomfortable, but remember – the lead husky gets the best view.
• We have to BE different, not just act different.
• Don’t underestimate value.
• Deserve trust. Clients want to trust us. They want us to remain true to the ideals and aspirations we share with them. Practice what we preach. Never let them down.
• Never, ever, fail the reliability test.
• Expectations sky-rocket. Today, reliability is the charge on the door before the show begins.
All people dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible, to make them a reality. - Adapted from T.E. Lawrence