Mindfulness – Megger plays a thinking game

View from the Top: Megger

An unconventional but powerful focus on mindfulness has seen Megger boost performance through greater and more effective employee engagement, says Jim Fairbairn, CEO.

Above: Jim Fairbairn, CEO, Megger Group. Credit: Megger

Founded in London more than 130 years ago, Megger manufactures electrical testing equipment and is now developing data analytics services. Headquartered in Dover, Kent, it has an annual turnover approaching £250m (€295m) and a significant international presence.

When I came to Megger as CEO in 2017, I knew I was joining a company that was focused and passionate about its products, but the culture and values were less clear. With nine factories and 42 sales offices across the world, different sites had developed different values.
With lots of silo thinking, I made it a priority to develop a single “Megger culture”.

My starting point was an engagement survey of the entire business, to ascertain a baseline. The results were OK: pretty much average for the manufacturing industry. We wanted much more.

The senior management team knew perfectly well that most issues or risks were not about the people. The challenge was a lack of ambitious future clarity and that was our responsibility.

Over the following 18 months, we ran a series of internal focus groups across the business, asking: what is the essence of the company? This helped us to crystallise what our core values truly are and to develop a triple-pronged action plan. The three legs were, and remain: people engagement, values and culture.

Our focus on these three key areas is deliberate. The challenge is in balancing them.

“Deliberate” is a word that is very important to us. I have been practising meditation for 27 years; it is a vital part of my every day. Meditation teaches you to be deliberate, to consider, and signifies control and thoughtfulness. It helps our staff to recognise that everything we do is for a reason.

We have refreshed our strategy three times in the last four years. The first review was effectively a diagnostic, taking stock of where we were. The second and third reviews developed a medium and long-term strategy which is centred on growth. For me, everything must be about growth – company, personal and cultural – and the involvement of our people in this vision is key. Even through the height of the pandemic we maintained that focus, completing three acquisitions out of a total of 10 in the four years I have been here.

Engaging our people in the process has been very popular. They know that management is thinking long term and for the good of the business – and for them. This leaves them free to focus on what they do best.

I am proud that Megger is now in the top 10% of companies for employee engagement, as measured by Peakon, an employee engagement system.

“Meditation teaches you to be deliberate, to consider, and signifies control and thoughtfulness. It helps our staff to recognise that everything we do is for a reason”