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Speaking almost like a philosopher musing the meanings of life, Robert opens the conversation with a statement which, from what we’ve learned, is apparent in the daily workings of Gruhme – “There is nothing so wasteful as a good idea going unheard.”
His words radiate a democratic sense of togetherness, that everybody working within the Gruhme family’s voice is heard. This in turn makes for a more productive, lively and fresh working environment – if the workforce feel that ideas have to come from the top down, then the working environment is bound to suffer, in an almost dictator-like sense, without a sense of personal addition or character.
Robert backs up this sense of community with a metaphor. He raises a question, a situation I’m sure everybody can relate to in everyday life – when walking into somebody’s house, you notice a cracked windowpane. Is it better to say nothing for fear of causing offense? The passive aggressive nature of the British, combined with an avoidance of confrontation, leads us to believe this would be wise.
However, Robert begs to differ. Speaking passionately about employee input – and I use the term ‘employee’ loosely – Gruhme seems more like a community than a hierarchy – Gruhme’s founder confidently states “I want someone to walk in and say ‘this would look much better if that window was fixed.’” The former lawyer-turned-perfumer emphasises the importance of giving a positive statement, rather than state the obvious. Robert encourages the team behind the luxury men’s fragrance to raise points of how they feel the business could benefit, as opposed to merely stating any flaws they may see within the product. “So long as someone is motivated by the greater good of making things better, then I want them to be able to say what they think. Because you know they care you are more willing to take their comment at face value, and not see it as a personal affront.”
As the old adage goes, honesty is the best policy, even within a modern business environment. Communication is key, keeping the cogs in motion without any hindrance and a mature approach to work. Robert concludes with a firm statement, “We need people who can talk openly to each other and for no one to get upset about it – that takes a close working relationship and one based on trust, not egos.”
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