How do you embed core values and behaviours through your business culture?

Burrows Richard Wright Headshot

by Richard Wright

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 14:16


This was the question I asked of the Burrows Leadership Team during an offsite meeting at the start of the year. We were nearing the end of a successful strategy session where I, as the new Managing Director, had been setting out my vision for the business.  We reviewed our company values and the behaviours that we want our people to display. And we set out our company goals, broken down by the five facets of our business. These are People, Performance, Prospects, Product and Process.

So I casually asked as we ate our lunch: “How do we make this happen? How do we ensure that each of our 240+ staff live our values and behave as we need them to?” There was our afternoon agenda!

As the newly promoted MD, I was planning to take the company offsite to talk to them about my vision for the business. This needed to be the starting point of the process. And it was. I talked about my passion for the business, my admiration for our staff and of the work that they did. I talked about our future opportunities and I also set them a challenge. The challenge was for all to join me on a journey to take us and the agency from amazing to awesome – my scale of excellent was heavily influence by Zaphod Beeblebrox (The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) which runs from good, through great, past amazing, and peaks at awesome). I explained what I would deliver for them and then I talked through what I expected in return. What I wanted was for them to live our values and follow our behaviours. So the groundwork was laid; now it is for the Leadership Team to roll it out.

The first area we are looking at is recruitment. If we want our people to live our values we need to make sure that anyone else we recruit will fit with these values. And our HR manager has started to weave these values into our selection criteria and interview process. Next we will be looking at our personal development programme. We call it, and it is the opportunity for each individual colleague to drive their own personal and future career development. We need to ensure this process encourages and nurtures the values and behaviours we want. As we were already into our 2019 cycle, we agreed that we would create a new process for 2020 built around our values and behaviours.


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One thing that is clear to all of us is that the Leadership Team must set the standard. If we do not display the right behaviours how can we expect others to. When I meet new starters I say to them that I want them to feel they can always come to me and feed back on anything they see around the building that they feel does not fit with our values and behaviours. I am even having them painted on my office wall.

We have relaunched our colleague recognition programme and named it Superheroes. We call it this because we all know how superheroes can come in all shapes and guises, but will always go the extra mile and often save the day. This is the opportunity for our staff to acknowledge the efforts of their colleagues, to recognise and show their appreciation when one of their peers has gone that extra mile.

The last thing that we are looking at is the environment in which we work. If we want our people to be ‘Creative in thought and execution’ and ‘Innovative in approach and application’, then we need an environment to encourage and nurture that. By environment I mean both the physical and the cultural.

As a team we talk about little changes having a big effect. We have already started to make small changes to our physical environment and I have a personal commitment to make the cultural shift that will allow 240 amazing people become truly Awesome!

Richard Wright

Managing Director