The Business Improvement Network

Business improvement through cultural improvement

By Amelia Bishop

Amelia Bishop

This paper has been written with the aim of being a helpful guide into the people aspect of developing a 1st class culture within your organisation, fundamentally a cultural change goes further than solely people and encompasses your reaction and innovation to changing technology and working practices also.

Focusing on the people aspects of cultural improvement will provide you with many wide-ranging benefits, therefore if you feel that your company will benefit from any of the following statements please read on.

  • Become an employer of choice thereby reducing recruitment costs and reduce employee turnover
  • Improved innovation and productivity levels, increasing profits with the same resource levels
  • Develop a more resilient operation, supply chain and workforce providing a brighter future in the changing business landscape
  • Become the best customer to your supply chain, being prioritised with new/innovative products and services at more favourable costs
  • Become a magnet that equally attracts new customers and retains existing customers, generating increased revenue through higher sales without hiring additional sales people.
  • Become acquainted with your competitors to share innovative trends for the future by swapping inspiration and information.

The changing business landscape and the brand

The younger generation, including the millennials as they are known, those 18-35 year olds know what they want and also what they don’t want, they are much less accepting of what their elders accepted as the norm in previous years. They will happily and without delay go to another supplier, be it a retailer or supplier of products or services, if they can get the same or equivalent that feels better elsewhere then they will – and the worrying part of this is they will also let everyone know about it.

Is there really any point in paying for expensive branding when your culture doesn’t live up to it and support it?

Your brand must represent your culture and your culture must be represented in your brand image; they are totally intertwined. Sadly though, this is not always the case, many companies see their marketing as a very important activity without thinking beyond that.

Let’s take the case of when you go house hunting, it’s a bit like the WOW you express when looking at the outside of a beautiful house whose gardens are perfectly manicured to the front, but the immediate disappointment you feel upon opening the front door only to find that there is a hotchpotch of old decorating styles with some started but unfinished. Somehow you look beyond that to find there is also aging plumbing and electrics that would not pass todays rigorous standards and cobwebs and floorboards with holes in that clearly represent a safety issue. Despite everything you venture through the house only to further disappointment when you find the back garden totally unkept and full of weeds.  

At some point you are going to get out of that house and tell others not to bother going to see it, this may be a bit of an extreme example but I’m confident that you will notice parallels with high end branding and the disappointment at times with the company behind it.

The new local is global and feedback will make or break

The significance of online reviews is that feedback and reviews can be found now on virtually all companies, whether it’s through Google reviews, reviews in forums and even on job boards, did you know that some online job boards not only display the carefully written job specifications with details about the company and job role but also allow past and present employees to give feedback on the organisation!

With so much evidence of how good or not, our company are, it’s clearly visible today and there is no hiding or bluffing that you treat all people exceptionally well.

A company with no blame culture, and a culture where inclusivity and opportunity are at equal heights, where engagement and wellbeing are both achieved through open communication and compassion and where happiness and contentment is a primary aim, is the company that people want to work for and buy from.


5 key areas of ‘People’ Culture

The culture in your company is part of who you are, it’s embedded in how you work and operate and is predominantly visible to all through how you deal with people, whether those people are employees, candidates, customers, suppliers or competitors.

The lack of a world class culture is identifiable through the experience of those people and can result in the following ways:

  1. Candidates, as mentioned earlier about job boards and advertising of vacant positions, what is the point of putting out a recruitment need saying it’s possibly the best job at a great company to gain a lot of interest, when feedback on you as an employer tells a totally different story with only a 3 or 3.5 out of 5 on what it’s like to work for you?

Potential employees will also gauge what kind of employer you are through their interaction with you at this early stage, through how you communicate and interact with them. From information sharing to the level of respect shown to someone who may wish to join your organisation. Where any of this is lacking, it can result in the sharing of poor online and offline feedback which will impact your company’s reputation and brand as an employer of choice and cost your company dearly in recruitment activity with its associated costs.

  1. Employees, how motivated are they? Do you engage with them on a range of business activities, issues and innovations?

It is essential today where mental health is at the forefront of the news and people lives that employee engagement and resilience are at the top of your agenda. Employees need to feel wanted and they want to be listened to, they also want to be recognised and have their opinions sought and what’s more they want to feel part of an organisation that cares about them and notices they exist in more ways than just the pay run.

Remember, your employees are your most important asset, so treat them that way, if you don’t – don’t surprised that your churn rates and productivity levels won’t be as good as they could be.

  1. Customers, how much do you focus on customer service and customer experience?

Don’t forget if your customers are affected by the external challenges you will be to and it’s vital that you treat your customers as you would expect to be treated.

Even if you are happy to receive 4* customer service yourself always endeavour to provide 5* service and even better a 5*customer experience with it. As we all know, there are times when we receive 5* treatment we can be amazed and surprised as it is still far from the norm.

Even small things can detract from the overall customer experience, for example, if you have booked into a 5* restaurant for dinner and the food and services were amazing your overall experience will be somewhat impacted if you have to walk across grass to get into the restaurant which leaves your shoes wet and/or muddy.

Remember the lack of focus on the entire customer journey from beginning to end could affect repeat business, reputation and branding and ultimately recurring revenue.

  1. Suppliers, often our suppliers in business are the life blood of our company keeping the lights on or providing us with our sales products or services, so why should we treat them any differently to the other people groups above, the answer is simple – we shouldn’t!

In this changing world, with trade wars and Brexit, our supply chains have never seemed so vulnerable. Engage with and speak to your suppliers, understand how vulnerable they are to the trade concerns, build good working relationships with them and you will stand a better chance of retaining their supply in the long run, including better trade prices thrown into the mix. Should any of your suppliers appear very vulnerable in the short to medium term look at your options for alternative suppliers.

Worst case, a loss of supply could close your company down overnight and increased prices could cause your clients to go elsewhere.

  1. Competitors, in a world where good relationships matter more than ever building effective relationships with people that you consider a competitor can also help to build a useful picture of information and insights into your industry in terms of trends, impacts and opportunities.

Naturally if there is total crossover in what you are offering this may not be so appealing although there may still be mileage in becoming acquainted.

If you have ever used or are familiar with the expression ‘keep your fiends/family close and your enemies even closer’ then think about this with your competitors.

A group with the same or similar purpose can make more headway than a lone wolf, so to speak and that is as long as your competitors see it in the same way of course.

Either way, respect goes a long way.

About the author

Amelia Bishop has a professional background in transformational change and specialises in moving organisations to ‘world class’ through her inspirational cultural insights. Her ability to drive business improvement and expedite resolution comes from her vast personal and professional experiences.

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