Andrew joined TVS in 2013 and was appointed CEO Europe in September 2014 following a successful career as a Managing Director within a range of organisations from large international PLC’s to medium-sized privately owned companies. Andrew’s role has recently been expanded to include North America. TVS Supply Chain Solutions is a global provider of world-class, end-to-end supply chain services for the automotive, beverage, defence, industrial and utilities markets. It is part of the TVS Group which employs 60,000 people and generates revenues of $7.5bn. TVS SCS itself employs 15,000 people worldwide, has revenues of $1bn and operates in over 25 countries. In this interview, Andrew shares his reflections on the role of trust in an industry where getting the right part, to the right place, at the right time, at the lowest cost, without compromising on quality is critical.
On the importance of trust:
‘We value trust as a really important part of our business. We’re in the supply chain, and what that means is that we are usually connecting the contractual customer with the supplier and we play a role that connects the two. So, we are an extension of the customer’s process and also the supplier’s process. For this to work properly, we have to create trust with both customer and supplier. That’s how we go about doing our business.’
On building a high trust culture:
‘Firstly it’s that relationship piece that we build at all levels. That’s really important. Secondly, in terms of performance, we’re doing our work on behalf of the client and the supplier, therefore we’ve got to be much better at it that they could be themselves. On the basis of that, all the services that we provide are managed by account management processes that have got regular weekly, monthly or quarterly reviews. We also have a trusted culture such that when things go wrong we’re there to help, rather than looking to blame.’
‘At TVS we start building trust at the top. TVS is a family owned business in its fourth generation of family ownership. The family take great pride in giving back to society by sponsoring schools, buses, and all sorts of good causes, so they take a very broad view of what their role is in society as well as the performance of the business. That cascades down. The ultimate organisational trust starts with the family. We then have got the organisation structure that works from there and because they operate from a very thin central function there is a high degree of responsibility that is passed on to the CEOs, me being one of them. It’s our job as CEOs to take those core values, with trust being one of them, and deliver those throughout the organisation. In my own personal role I look after the US as well which makes it a substantial role in the organisation. In summary, building trust is really simple: it’s from top down. When we go out to do our job we know that there is that trust, that when the family says they are going to support you, they do.’
On the challenge of measuring trust
‘We don’t have any tangible or intangible numbers that say that’s our measure of trust. We rely on behaviour as a measure of trust rather than numbers. Having said that, taking trust as an extended value and exploring how we link the KPI’s that we have got to that value of trust is something that we haven’t done, being honest about it. All of the things that we do are behavioural and therefore we can link back to how our behaviours play out.’
‘Taking me as an example. I’m an open person so I share things with people so they feel engaged and involved. From a personal point of view I try to be consistent in my behaviour so that this cascades through the organisation. I create trust by being honest about things so that there are no surprises. I don’t think I have ever said something that I didn’t really mean.’
‘I tend to spend more time coaching people now than maybe I used to do in my job as the CEO. I’m now looking for performance in others from a coaching point of view, and to that extent I recently invested in developing leadership training in our organisation and as part of that training we talk about coaching. We have to have a high degree of excellence in what we do. We’ve got to drive our ability to think and behave at a higher level rather than taking things for granted because it does really matter.’
The Nine Habits of Trust:
Two really important aspects of trust emerged from Andrew’s interview. Firstly, the scope that TVS has got, in common with all other businesses, to raise the level of practice of the nine habits; and secondly, the habits that support the critical role of innovation in business.
Andrew is confident that 60% of his people practice the habits in the model. The other 40% mainly includes those who are new and those who perhaps are not so aware of their behaviour. If this is representative, then it presents a big opportunity for leaders to coach people (Habit No. 2) who are new, and not so aware, to raise the level of practice of the habits much closer to 100%.
Also, Andrew highlighted during the interview that the speed at which businesses are now having to innovate is increasing because customers are demanding ever more value, and because of the disruption that is being caused by advances in information technology driving ever-higher expectations of connectivity and results. This begs the question that perhaps innovation is so critical to business success that it merits special focus under Habit No.1, choosing to deliver?
Our thanks to Andrew for his participation and for allowing us to share his insights from the interview. For more information on the Trusted Executive Foundation please refer to this short introductory video. As a first step on the journey of trust, individual and organisational trust surveys based on the nine habits are available. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.