As my work often involves helping improve business processes I am all too aware that having staff “buy in” is an important factor in achieving change.  Conversely, the way that change is managed can impact (for good or bad) on staff morale.

In my view a key factor in motivation and positive change is the difference between an “us culture” and an “us & them culture”.   Here are some questions to consider:

Is your business managed with more carrot than stick?

If your staff are afraid of letting you know bad news then you’ll be running the business without the ability to react; you may even have serious festering problems that you don’t even know about.  Using the stick too much can also lead to a blame culture with energy wasted on personal agendas and defensive posturing rather than working together to achieve business goals.

Things don’t always go according to plan.  Problems can be addressed by asking “how can WE avoid repetition?”.   While the stick does occasionally have its place, most problems can be “OUR’S” to discuss and agree a way forward.

Are staff clear about the purpose of what they do and how it fits in?

If staff can’t relate their work to wider businesses goals then they are more likely to just “go through the motions” feeling disengaged, which can lead to boredom and poor performance.

Do you truly value the opinions of staff?

If you’ve ever watched Channel 4’s “Undercover Boss” you’ll see how much can be gleaned from bosses working at the “coal face”.

While bosses going undercover may be rather extreme, learning how things work in practice and getting the opinions of staff is really important, not only in terms of the information gleaned, but also by making people feel valued.

While there is huge value in senior management talking to all levels of staff, some managers won’t have the time or the inclination to get involved with the nitty gritty detail.   In that situation they could consider getting help from others, either internally or alternatively independent consultants (without an axe to grind).

An “us culture” brings huge benefits to business performance, not to mention making the working environment a much more pleasant place!   If you would like help in improving your business processes with staff “buy in” kept in mind, then please feel free to e-mail David Lewis at or call 07836 331677.

I am grateful to speaker and writer Mark Lee whose blog How important is it to ensure that your workforce is motivated? prompted me to write this article.