Eating our own porridge

For those of you who have talked to us about managing talent and culture to drive business value or succession in SME’s, our current initiative in Gilligan Sheppard to introduce an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) will not come as a surprise.
What is surprising, it’s that it is the first to have been introduced across a whole team by a professional services firm in New Zealand. What is pleasing is that the uptake rate has been exceptionally high.
Each team member, with two complete years of service, was offered the opportunity to purchase for cash shares under the plan. Anything that is free is in effect worthless, and the value given is rarely appreciated.
We have always run annual bonuses and the payment and offer was aligned to the annual bonus plan. Entitlements to shares were determined by bonus entitlements.
Shares were offered to all team members with more than two years’ service. The uptake rate was 64%. Of those who took up shares, 57% invested more than their bonus in buying shares.
The directors and partner shareholders now welcome as shareholders the following team members who have loyally and diligently supported us and our clients for between them, an aggregate of over 60 years.

  • Tanya Canty
  • Marion Garlick
  • Debra Houghton
  • Joshna Mistry
  • Elaine Cai
  • Kathy Xiong
  • Maria Yu

We serve on several company boards, and have introduced ESOPs or promoted them in Number of companies.
Key matters when introducing a successful ESOP in our experience are these:

  1. Be satisfied your business has legs don’t sell a pup
  2. Don’t give it away, value it fairly and expect to be paid for it
  3. Make sure that your culture and environment is valued by the whole team, focus on building an employment brand

For more about the ‘porridge’ reference, please read the excerpt below or click here to read the article about Gilligan Sheppard.
Gilligan Sheppard advisors pride themselves on being more brutally honest than competitors.
“We’re very cynical as a group,” says director Marian Garlick. “But it’s honest cynicism. You’ll get no fence-sitting with us; you will never be under any illusion about how we feel about an idea or a proposal.”
To the extent that if Gilligan Sheppard endorses an investment decision it, too, will invest along with its client. “That way, we’re eating the same porridge,” Sheppard says. “And if there’s grit in the porridge we’ll be breaking our teeth on it too.”
This, then, is the Gilligan Sheppard offering. A bowl of porridge. And, like Baby Bear’s porridge, it’ll be just right. Because they’ll know exactly how you like it.

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