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What I've learned in three years at Evolve Assess

Two years ago I started to write a blog on what my first 12 months of working with Evolve Assess had been like, and what I'd learned in that time. The day after I started my blog, I had some sad news in my personal life and took time away from work. After that, my blog was forgotten about and has lived unfinished in the notes on my phone since.

Now that I've been here for three years, (time flies when you're having fun!) there's inevitably a lot more that I've learned since then, so here I am finishing my blog! To start, I feel its important to share the (short) intro that I had written at the time, because it still reflects how I feel two years on –

"Sitting on Sunday night after a very busy weekend, I'd normally have that back to work in the morning dread. But not tonight, because in my 12 months at Evolve Assess I have genuinely never had that feeling, and that is because I love my job. The last year has been filled with lots of hard work, laughs and vanilla Nespresso pods, but what have I learned working in a micro business?"

Now, my experience doesn’t mean that working in a small business is everyone’s cup of tea (or vanilla coffee), as it isn’t for everybody. Having grown our team and recruited for a number of roles over the last 18 months, we’ve experienced first hand that not everyone likes or is suited to working in a smaller business, and that’s okay. As a team we recently took the Type Dimensions questionnaire to explore our personality styles, and after a session to digest our reports, we learned that some personality types just prefer to work in smaller or larger organisations. As an ISTJ, I have worked in large, corporate organisations and in small businesses, with Evolve being about as small as you can get at the time I joined, so I have seen both ends of the scale in terms of business size. Based on this, I know that I am happier and more satisfied in my role within a business like Evolve Assess.

Here’s what I’ve learned:
drakeandjosh- "That is not my job"
Well actually, yes it is! When you're part of a small business, there are no defined Project Management, Finance or Admin teams, which means that you get the opportunity to be all of those things depending on what is needed at that time. As cliché as it sounds, this means that no two days are ever the same here! My role is, and will always be varied, which is something that I love. This also means that sometimes there may be tasks such as admin jobs that aren’t as exciting, however a good album and noise cancelling headphones can get you through any amount of content upload!

- Making the most of what you enjoy
I joined Evolve as Client Success Manager with my main responsibility being to look after our existing clients and help with new business wherever needed. My role quickly changed, as we were taking on new bespoke projects that required more development work, and therefore my role then required a lot of project management. I quickly realised that PM and delivery was something that I really enjoyed, so have been able to shape my own role here and go down a route geared towards the tasks that I like most. I have been lucky that to have this opportunity as the business has grown, but allowing staff to explore their areas of interest creates a happier, more productive workforce who are performing the tasks that are based on their strengths.

- “We are one big family”
Controversial, I know! There has been a lot of conversation recently around whether you should think this about your team, but as the “Mam” of Evolve Assess, my thoughts are clear. I mentioned that I’ve had some loss in my personal life, and I have had the most challenging couple of years yet. However, what I gained through that loss, was a new, caring work family. I genuinely believe that if we didn’t have the culture that we do at Evolve Assess (more on that later), my experience would have been very different. There is no hiding when you work so closely in a small team, but that means that you never face anything alone. If you’re having a bad day, the team feel it with you, and that means there is extra laughs, walks around the business park or just an ear to listen when you need them. Working within a larger organisation can often feel like you’re a small fish in a very big pond, but with us every single member of the team is so vital and appreciated for who they are as a person.teamphoto- Company culture is massive
A little while ago, Richard wrote an interesting blog on defining company culture (read it here), and we try to ensure that we practise what we preach. Building a company culture, specifically in a small business is a hard job, as anyone who shares different values, ethics, vision or behaviours can quickly damage the culture you have worked so hard to establish. Here at Evolve, we sat together as a team to define our “Why?” statement. This allowed us to discuss our own values and align our focus towards a shared mission, making us overall more productive and driven in our individual roles whilst committed the main goal of the business.

- Pros vs Cons
Don’t get me wrong, working within a business like Evolve Assess inevitably has some downsides. You don’t get the security that you do within a corporate organisation who has mega bucks in the bank, and depending on your role, this may feel like a lot of responsibility. However, what we offer far outweighs any of the less attractive aspects of a small business. With us you are a big fish in a small pond. Your ideas, thoughts and achievements will never go unheard and will always be welcomed and celebrated, how often can you say that you contribute to the key decisions of a business as an employee?!

- Trust
Lastly, my biggest learn over the last three years has been how important trust is in a small business. Trusting your employer, your staff, your colleagues, your customers and most importantly yourself is key. Being part of a business of our size means trusting the directors to make wider decisions that could inevitably affect your livelihood. And this means that they have to trust you in return, to respect and value their business as they do themselves. Trust your colleagues to put their heart and soul into their own responsibilities. Your client partnerships will be based on trust, allowing for mutual success through a shared objective. And trust yourself in your own capabilities, new challenges may be daunting, but trusting in yourself allows you to perform to the best of your ability, and as Amy Cuddy said - fake it until you become it.

My three years here have shown what a successful small business can look like. In the last three years we’ve grown immensely! We’ve had four offices, our team has gone from two to seven and we’re on our second Nespresso machine! If that doesn’t demonstrate success, I don’t know what does!

I am genuinely so proud to be part of the Evolve family and everything that we have achieved so far. Our successes have not been without blood, sweat and tears, however, there hasn’t been one day yet that we haven’t laughed together. I am looking forward to seeing what the next three years has in store for our little business!

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