Leicester City FC – A benchmark of good culture?

Written by Jason Morris on Monday May 9, 2016

I, along with almost everyone in the country (save, perhaps, for a small section of North London), have probably been celebrating Leicester City’s Premier League success alongside the good people of Leicester. It’s one of those events that come around every now and again, which allows us all to jump on board the ‘feel-good express.’

There’s been a lot of talk around how the mighty Foxes managed to achieve such a seemingly impossible feat, and the keywords continually used are ‘togetherness’ and ‘teamwork’, over and above the ability of the individual players. It’s true they don’t have a world-class talisman to turn to when the pressure’s on – so what do they do? They instead rely on their ability to operate successfully as a unit, as a team, and the measure of that success is shown in their results.

In the light of Leicester’s achievement and all the talk around the value of togetherness, the connection dawned on me – togetherness is a key ingredient in a successful firm’s culture too.

Regulatory focus

Let’s not lose sight of the importance of culture and conduct in today’s financial services world. Many regulators maintain a focus on developing a good culture within organisations as a key priority. The Financial Conduct Authority’s 2016/2017 Business Plan lists Firms’ culture and governance as one of its priorities, and to help achieve this will focus on:

  • accountability of culture at all levels and full accountability for senior individuals
  • principles of good conduct
  • strategies, business models and cultures controls
  • Senior Managers and Certification Regime.

The incoming chief executive of the FCA, Andrew Bailey, has said it is not up to the regulator to determine the culture of financial services companies. This clearly puts the onus on the business to shape its own culture, so getting it right (just as Leicester has) is vital.

Parameters of culture

There is still an element of the unknown around culture though, so how can firms measure how good, bad or indifferent their existing culture is, so they can then take action to improve it? Let’s bring it back to togetherness and teamwork; essentially everyone in the organisation has a responsibility to support and promote the right culture. Ways to measure this could include the following:

Awareness – how aware are employees of the importance of culture? Do they know how the regulator views it? Can you think of examples of firms with good and poor cultures to illustrate the difference it can make?

Capability – how capable are employees at demonstrating the right behaviours to embed a good culture? How well balanced in terms of skills and experience is the workforce? How do the workforce view senior management – do they think they do a good job or a bad job? Do they feel management have their interests at heart in the decisions they make? Are there common day-to-day restrictions or issues within the workforce that might interfere with this?

Transparency – how often do the senior management communicate with the workforce? Do they regularly share information regarding company strategy, challenges, opportunities? Is there a perception among the workforce of a management ‘open door policy’?

Tone at the top – what are the behaviours demonstrated by senior management? How willing are the workforce to emulate these behaviours?

Common goals – do the workforce and management have common goals in respect of their work?

Loyalty – how long have employees worked at the company? Is there a high turnover of staff, or are most employees pretty loyal? How can this dynamic affect company culture?

Common theme

These are just a few thoughts around the sort of parameters that could be used to measure culture – what others do you think could be included?

The common theme, though, is around unity.  If all employees, from the boardroom to the shop floor, follow a joined-up approach in achieving the goals for the business, then you’re halfway to ‘doing a Leicester’ and establishing a pretty good company culture.


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