7 Top Tips to Test How Well Your Company Culture is Embedded


Athelbrae Associate Sophie, who previously held the role of Directorate of Workplace Culture writes:

The workplace culture is often defined by the values that your organisation has and the associated behaviours – the way in which you and your people conduct your business. Often it is perceived that your organisation lives and breathes these values, because they are pictorially displayed around the offices/workspaces, but a well embedded culture is so much more than that.

Here’s 7 top tips to see if your culture is embedded in your organisation:

Recruitment and Selection processes and decisions are based on your values and behaviours, in equal measure, if not more importance, than skill.

Performance coaching and discussions is in line with the values and behaviours – discussions should be around “how” you did it, as well as “what” you did.

Your Learning and Development plan supports and develops your values and behaviours

Your Health and Wellbeing practices should not just be good intentions, but fully aligned to your values and up to date with best practice

You ask your staff regularly (perhaps through the means of staff surveys etc.), what is happening for them. You align this feedback to your values and behaviours, and act on it.

Your working environment reflects your values and behaviours. If innovation is featured in your values and behaviours, don’t expect that to happen (or as happen as well as it could) if you have closed off offices/cubicles, management by email and no creative areas for discussion.

Your customers should have a good feel for values and behaviours even if they aren’t told them – ask them and find out what they have to say about you and your staff, your products/services and processes.

Take a look around your organisation today, and see if you can see these things happening. One small change in any of these areas could start to make an impact in how your company and staff perform towards your values and behaviours, how they feel coming to work, and how your customers feel about who you are, and your products/services.

If you would like to discuss any options to proactively manage your organisations culture in more detail, do email Kate@athelbrae.co.uk


Holistic approach to serving the customer

Gandhiji Customer is king


Met with an international client this morning who has a blueprint in their company – the really interesting and satisfying element of this, is that at the top of their list is their customer experience.

Everything feeds down from the customer.  Employee engagement, the culture of the organisation and finally leadership.  In order for the customer service element and the customer experience to be the key component, all the other elements must feed into it.

So often companies think about what’s important to them internally and put leadership and management at the top of the list, with everything feeding down to finally the customer experience.

Having a holistic approach ensures that the customer remains king and is at the forefront of everyone’s thinking and actions.


Don’t take our word for it!

Delighted to have had the feedback from the recent delegates on the Spring programme of Getting to Grips with Management.

Designed to aid new and inexperienced managers navigate their way through the maze of challenges they face in their role, these endorsements are much appreciated and prove it “does what it says on the tin”


“I’ve loved this programme.  It’s been a huge help to build up my confidence in my role and Keith has been a fountain of knowledge for all of the extra questions I’ve been asking him.  I cannot recommend it enough!  Thank you Keith”.

“I loved the module with the actor.  This was so interesting and really helped me build confidence – especially giving and receiving feedback from other members of the group”

“Great course which is hugely helpful if you are involved with management.  All subjects are relevant and I have taken useful knowledge from each module which will change the way I manage going forward”

“I have enjoyed the activities as they’ve helped develop my skills and communication.  The resolving conflict and negotiation module helped me defuse difficult situations and the onion diagram in the recruitment module was a great example of getting detailed answers and finding out more about the candidate’s answers”.

Our next programme starts on 7th September at Brandshatch Place and Spa Hotel.  For more details or to discuss whether an in house management programme would benefit your supervisors and managers, email kate@athelbrae.co.uk or call us on 01892 832059.

Assertive communication – 11th July at Brandshatch Place and Spa Hotel



Assertiveness-Training-ImageDue to demand, we have put on another date for this one day course – looking at personal communication styles and how to handle those who are more challenging in their behaviour.

A day packed with  fun and  practical advice, guidance and solutions that enables delegates to return to the workplace with techniques and tips on having the confidence to address all aspects of assertive communication.

If you would like more details, or to book yourself or a member of your staff on the 11th July course at Brandshatch, please email kate@athelbrae.co.uk   – the course fee is £299 per person + VAT which covers all the training, materials, delegate manual, certificate, catering and refreshments.

Recent delegate feedback includes:-

 “It has opened up many ways to approach situations.  The day went really quickly and I came out feeing I have gained knowledge”.

“Really fun, knowledgeable and Leanne really got the group to open up and interact.”

Brandshatch Place & Spa Hotel – Revenue Manager Pete’s LONG distance fundraising walk

We have been working with Brandshatch Hotel Revenue Manager, Pete Tappenden of Handpicked Hotels for more years than any of us probably care to remember!

He is tackling a walking marathon feat in July, undertaking a 100km walk in just 30 hours, raising funds for Gurkha Welfare Trust and Oxfam. 

The Youtube clip is gruelling enough, and he’s been preparing since March, getting in practice walks – it is the equivalent of walking up Ben Nevis and Snowdon in one go! 

If you’d like to support Pete on his challenge, every little helps as they say, and will make all the blisters, aching calves and exhaustion workwhile. 

His fundraising page is – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peter-tappenden4e0ea08c-e77d-479d-91a9-9aab1bbc42ef

Unkind criticism is the hobby of fools, the boast of the arrogant, the exploit of the jealous, and the spiritual gift of hypocrites. Learn from criticism if it’s justified; ignore it if untrue, unfair, or ignorant; and, if needed, respond to it with Christian grace (Proverbs 15:1, 2).

Over the Christmas break, we took some time to go and see The Greatest Showman in the cinema.  This was a couple of hours of catchy tunes, loosely based on part of P T Barnum’s life.  Perfectly pleasant and had the added bonus of 2 hours of watching Hugh Jackman!  However, the “critics” in print, on TV and radio have been scathing in some their reviews.  Some of the kinder comments included:

“A showy, confused, big hunk of nothing.”

“The director, Michael Gracey, delivers quick doses of excitement in splashy scenes but has little feel for the choreographic action, offers scant historical substance, and displays slender dramatic insight.”

Both are a fair reflection of how the individuals felt about the content, but many others who have attended a viewing, found it a pleasant afternoon’s entertainment, harming no one and thoroughly enjoyable.  It would have been unfortunate if the critics’ view had informed opinion to such an extent that individuals chose not to attend as a result of what someone else felt on that particular day.

Undertaking a voluntary role as a school governor, our role is often described “critical friend”….but can you really be critical and a friend?  When does honesty or challenging become demotivating, or worse, bullying?

We live in an age when there is 24 hour media coverage and people feel free to share their personal viewpoints at the drop of a hat – everything ranging from food, to music to politics and more – the fact we may have a different view from others leads to debate, conversation and hopefully an agreement to disagree if necessary.

In this era of social media, we often hear from “celebrities” of the comments that people make on their social media feeds including some truly horrendous thoughts and opinions, that are all the more sinister by being hidden behind anonymity.  Many have decided to close their Twitter and similar accounts rather than face the daily tirade with the opinions of others who they don’t even know.

The option to “delete” or “ignore” is almost impossible to achieve when you are in a working environment, and facing criticism by colleagues and senior staff.  Many view their appraisal and performance management as an opportunity for their manager to heap criticism on them, and hence go in with a closed mind and full of trepidation.

Remember though, their critical evaluation is just their opinion – UNLESS they can back it up with evidence.  When presented with something that is irrefutable, with strong examples of where something has gone awry, it is easier for everyone to then acknowledge, develop as a result and move on.  Keeping personalities out of the conversation is also crucial – “Hugh Jackman was pants” is an opinion and nothing more.  For everyone who may agree with this, there are just as many who would whole heartedly disagree.  Neither is wrong or right and is just an opinion unless there is specific evidence provided that he was – “Hugh Jackman struggled with the higher notes in every song, and seemed at a loss to master the simplest of dance moves”.

So, if you are required within your role to provide honest feedback or assessment with your staff, remember some key points:-

  •       Avoid using language that criticises their personality
  •       Provide evidence to specifically address an issue – “you’re always late” is too general.  “Over the last month, you’ve arrived 10 minutes late on 5 occasions” is specific and addresses their behaviour.  This allows discussion and how they intend to improve it.

You don’t have to like everyone you work with!  There’s no reason you cannot work with someone productively and co-operatively, even if you do not share their views or wish to spend your lunch break with them.  However, unkind comments and abrasive opinions about them walks a delicate line between your view and bullying.


Team Facilitation Day

Great feedback from the NHS staff in the CCG yesterday on their strategy and plans for future working.

The Belbin Team reports completed by individuals and on each other are always a great opportunity to get the discussions going and such a positive and forward thinking response to building on the great team spirit to go even further.

CCG Team day