A positive culture: why is it important to business?

By Kevin Ward, Conatus Financing Solutions & Conatus Bookkeeping
Although I have come across many people who scoff at talk of how important it is to have a genuinely positive culture within a business, I believe it is vital.
Published in Suffolk Director Magazine, Spring 2021

Conatus Financing Solutions: Business Turnaround

Through all our work with clients, we have seen both good and bad examples of business culture.

Good examples come when we look at our bookkeeping business clients. Most have a fully inclusive culture with two-way dialogue and strong communication at all levels, including the team at Conatus who work with that client.  We find that we are treated as staff and are invited to social functions and included in staff meetings where our views and opinions are valued.

When it comes to the turnaround work, we often find the opposite applies.  There is very little communication and openness between the staff and senior management. You often find a business owner or manager who is rushing around complaining that they have no time to do anything and that there are constant problems.  Staff complain that they don’t know what is happening, often sitting in silos where they are shut out of any area of the business other than their own, usually moaning about a boss who is too busy to give them any time. 

Business leaders need to lead

Experience has taught us that if you sit and observe that business in operation, what you will often find is a leader who cannot delegate and who takes on every problem, rather than trying to coach, support or encourage their staff to find their own solutions.  Consequently, the leader is not a leader.

With them taking problems from the employees, they find they cannot keep up with their workload. They become increasingly stressed and often feel resentful that staff aren’t pulling their weight, with communication breaking down further as a result.  Goodwill has usually long gone and you either find staff turnover is high, or you find a staff member almost bullying their leader, receiving pay rise after pay rise because they have learnt that their leader will not say no.

At best, this problem provides a horrible place to work in. At worst, everything spirals into a terrible situation where nothing functions, and the business will typically end up in real trouble.  

A good business culture means everyone pulls together

So, when people say that culture is not important, I think of those companies like the first ones mentioned, where, when they do get in trouble – and I am called in to help – I find staff, management and leadership all pulling together and working hard to help each other.  These businesses are often in trouble through genuine bad luck, or possibly a misguided decision on their strategy. They will almost always pull through in some positive way, working well together and with the support and guidance of any external parties like myself.

Although the fight may be tough, it can be fun at times, and when it’s over you find that all involved found the experience rewarding, with a lot of valuable lessons learnt along the way. 

It is never too late to change your business culture, but you may need external support and fresh eyes and it may mean that some changes are required within your team – but if you get it right, it really is worth it!

Kevin Ward is Director at Conatus Financing Solutions and Conatus Bookkeeping.
E: kevin@conatusfinancing.solutions or visit conatusfinancing.solutions or conatusbookkeeping.co.uk.

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