Sometimes we do certain things without thinking about them, or wondering why we do them. Just that it becomes a habit. 
 
Occasionally, something also goes wrong and that brings the question back into the spotlight. 
 
All too often, habit takes over and the problem that brought the question of “why?” into focus fades away without being resolved. Nothing changes, and it’s only when the same thing happens again, that we say: “Oh yes, I remember that happening before!” 
 
In business, it’s really good practice to know why you do things, because without that single point of clarity, it can be hard to remain focused on what the business does, and how to communicate that to your customers and suppliers. 
 
How many times do you question why something is done, and you get the answer "Because we've always done it that way"? 
 
The question of “Why?” in business terms is also well-associated with Simon Sinek, so I’m in good company! 
 
As volunteers in a national youth group, if asked why we do it, the popular mantra is that “we do it for the kids”. That’s a very noble sentiment, but very simplistic; I was convinced that as human beings, we do things because of some reward – many times these are tangible rewards, such as money, gifts, favours, benefits, usually associated with paid work – but in the voluntary and caring sector, the rewards are more subtle and relate to feelings of satisfaction, gratitude, reduction in guilt. 
 
As an engineer, I reasoned that if I understood why I volunteered in the first place, I could be clear to myself and to others, and in the event of knock-backs and disappointments, could make an unemotional judgement on whether that affected my decision. 
 
So I decided to analyse why I volunteered. 
There has been a great deal of talk about a lack of home-grown skills available to manufacturing and technology businesses in the UK, and the recent combination of Brexit and the pandemic has apparently done nothing to make that better - in fact it appears that skills are becoming even more in short supply. 
 
Perception? Or reality? 
We all say we believe strongly in providing good customer support, but it’s something that all customers expect by default anyway, so why mention it? 
 
The real customer experience varies quite wildly in practice. 
 
It shouldn’t matter whether the contract is transactional through the sale of itemisable goods and services, or relational by provision of something bespoke, when something goes wrong, good customer support is essential. 
 
Any good business would be keen for a customer to buy from them again, and few have the arrogance to rely on a monopoly to ensure that a customer has no choice; retaining existing customers is less effort than finding new ones. 
 
However, when it comes to customer support or service, this is where the intent and reality often deviate! 
Peter Francis, Managing Director of MAT Ltd, has been granted Level 7 Award in Leadership and Management by the City and Guilds Institute through CVQO. 
 
This ILM7 award recognises the strategic leadership in his business role as director of engineering consultants MAT and his voluntary work for the Hereford and Worcester Army Cadets and focuses on six standards of: Professional standards, Communication, Leadership, Professional development, Team development and Customer care. 
 
It is classed as the equivalent of a Masters qualification and confers membership of the City and Guilds Institute. 
 
Is the corporate festive social still "on"? 
December has arrived, and in the traditional sense, businesses look to celebrate with their employees the successes of another year, or just to enjoy a sense of cheer in a business environment. 
 
The ups and downs of COVID-19, isolation, working from home, social distancing and regulations placed a huge dampener on seasonal festivities in 2020; not least because many businesses were struggling to trade and couldn’t see the justification to celebrate, and the uncertainties of whether gatherings were permitted, achievable or even desirable saw many intended parties and corporate social gatherings either postponed or cancelled altogether. 
 
2021 would be better, right? Everything will be back to normal, we thought. 
 
Maybe not. And maybe time to consider other options. 
 
How businesses can embrace the circular economy and create their own small-scale circular economy. 
“The Circular Economy”? I’ve heard of that. Isn’t it about recycling? 
 
Well, yes, sort of. 
 
We all live in a world where the majority of people and businesses acknowledge that we need to reduce energy usage, reduce waste, reduce pollution, reduce consumption of precious resources, and the “Circular Economy” has become a term to highlight how what one company discards as waste can be recycled and reused as a commercial product. We have social and commercial drives to ensure that plastic products use a certain minimum percentage of reclaimed or recycled plastic, there’s an industry built upon converting domestic waste into usable energy and we have a recycling policy which tried to minimise what is sent to landfill. 
 
In general we are coming round to the idea that we can’t continue to create, use and dispose of things, because, put bluntly, that is using raw materials and converting it into waste. Everyone acknowledges (or should) that we need to recycle much more, and we should reduce our use of fossil fuels and virgin materials, but what is this “circular economy”, and is it truly achievable? 
 
How commercial and voluntary organisations treat their staff significantly influences their effectiveness and their bottom line. 
In any organisation there are people responsible for other people. In some, everything runs smoothly, staff are settled, they know what they’re doing and are happy to be there. 
In others there is an undercurrent of distrust, a feeling of resentment, chaos, high workforce turnover, disillusionment. 
I know which type of organisation I’d want to be associated with, but how do you reach that ideal? 
 
MAT is delighted to announce that we have agreed a collaboration with Matthew Humphreys of Phoenix Red. 
 
As a specialist engineering consultancy in the manufacturing and process industries, MAT have had a long history of developing bespoke solutions and process improvements, along with project management, and process automation design in these industries. MAT is unusual because they focus on a more general approach rather than specialise in particular skills, which means that clients don’t need to be able to define their problem to source specialist help. 
 
This collaboration will enable the team to demonstrate an even wider understanding of different industries, but adds further depth to our mechanical engineering and production line optimisation capabilities. 
 
With the recent media outburst to the revelation of senior government members in untenable positions, it is fair to say when we see the term 'Workplace Relationships' we automatically think of dramatic affairs or horrible bosses! For us at MAT it has made us think about how crucial ALL relationships are within the workspace.  
 
Whether it is between managers and CEOs or engineers to Human Resources the more positive the relationships are between a company’s staff the more that business will benefit.  
 
But it is hard to understand how effective those relationships are working and if not how to improve them. 
 
 
"I Need Some Help, Please!” 
 
We’ve had a number of discussions about mental health – not only last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, but also ongoing ones as part of our collective knowledge and understanding. 
 
 
At MAT Ltd we take sustainability seriously and look to improve both our own business and factor it in when consulting our clients. We know that it's important to try and make or take more sustainable options if they are available; MATL's office is mainly run with power from our solar panels, which also put back into the grid, we also have a small log burner fire here in the office for those chilly winter days, which our resident office cat Tilly also enjoys thoroughly! 
 
One of MAT’s construction industry clients had some concerns about building a plant which included mechanical and electrical equipment. Their specialist expertise didn’t include industrial processes and they wanted to ensure they provided the best for their client. 
 
This is their story: 
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