Words: Alban Cassidy
Listening to Michael Conlon and John Chesworth talk about their values at the beautiful Dunkenhalgh Hotel on a sunny day in May was a great way to spend a Tuesday lunchtime. Eloquently chaired by Rob Binns of Cotton Court, a fascinating discussion took place.
Michael, Chairman of Conlon Construction, talked about how at Conlon they always strive to make staff feel that they were part of a team. That the family values that the business was founded on over 60 years ago, still ran through the heart of the business and typified everything they did. Good management was key to this and it was essential to provide good training and support. If you identify the best person for the job but they don’t quite get “it” straight away, then invest in them. Train them. Manage them.
A good example of the Conlon approach is the commitment to CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility]. The Conlon CSR Committee is made up of staff who choose which Charity they will support for that year. This makes staff feel involved and part of something that they can have an influence upon. Loyalty works both ways. If a company is loyal to its staff – its staff are loyal to the company.
John, Executive Chairman of Harrison Drury Solicitors, stressed there was no one perfect culture that could be applied everywhere. Each company has a unique culture and it is important to be clear as to what that is, first of all to staff but also to the wider world. If staff don’t know what the culture is and don’t buy in to it, they will simply leave as they don’t feel part of a bigger whole. It is therefore essential to be authentic, to do as you say. This is who we are. This is how we behave. But don’t just say it. Do it.
Where people don’t buy into the culture, do something about it before they leave or undermine the business by their actions or attitude. The culture of the business sets the tone. Everything stems from this.
However, culture doesn’t prevent progression. People can and do leave on occasion. If they do, wish them all the best and if you come across them again and see elements of your culture still being applied, take some pride in this.