The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies To Work For 2016 was announced this month. One of the most reputable measures of company culture, those who make the list are heralded as the UK’s finest examples of employee engagement.
The Sunday Times itself describes the survey as ‘getting opinions about bosses, working conditions and employer’s values direct from the people whose hard work builds the success of their business.’ It also makes the point that once a company is on the list, the hard work really begins, with the job of staying on the list! With 79 new entries across the categories in 2016 alone, many previously listed organisations have been displaced who didn’t make the grade this time.
Never mind best companies, this is the bit that’s all about best leadership. Relentless leadership. Because when it comes to culture, the job is never done. The project is never complete. The feet can never go up on the desk. Great leaders can create high performance cultures. Only the best leaders sustain them.
This year, UKTV was the first broadcaster to ever make the top 100. Rewind the clock back five years when Darren Childs became CEO of UKTV. Although everyone told him everything was hunky dory, he was not convinced and wanted to understand early on how the team felt. Keen to understand the truth about where the company was, UKTV ran the Best Companies Survey. The results came in and UKTV was found wanting. UKTV’s journey had started. Believing that culture was key to future success, we are so proud to have worked with Darren and his leadership team over the past five years to redesign the DNA of UKTV.
Just one year after those fateful Best Companies results, UKTV entered the Best Companies survey again, and became the first television broadcaster in history to achieve Best Company status. It has received it every year since and this year made the history books again by ranking in The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For.
I work with all sorts of organisations to create and sustain strong cultures and leadership. What makes UKTV unique is how it’s been relentless in its focus. So many CEOs and organisations start out on a culture journey but it fizzles out after the launch. Darren and his team have persisted – working for over five years; never resting on their laurels and knowing that it’s not just creating a high performance culture that counts – it’s keeping it and growing it.
A great example of this is how UKTV has invested in developing an ideas culture. A large part of this work was focused on creating an environment for people to be at their most creative. Significant investment was made in ensuring the office layout at the new Hammersmith premises promotes stimulation, collaboration and the opportunity for serendipitous encounters to lead to creative breakthroughs. To keep this fresh and constantly evolving, UKTV employees move desks on a three-monthly basis to build relationships and collaborate with new people from across the business and gain a greater understanding of each other’s roles. To build on this further and to ensure all this creative thinking actually translates into action, a range of bold mechanics are in place, one of which is the Innovation Pot – a pot of money available outside of the usual business case process to use to progress great ideas. To date, the broadcaster has invested £1.1m bringing Innovation Pot ideas to fruition, many of which have delivered extremely successful products and projects for the company.
This is just a small collection of examples of how UKTV is constantly investing in their culture, with new ideas executed all the time. Even though they made history again this year – I can tell you now that Darren Childs and his leadership team will take nothing for granted. They will continue to focus on every element of creating a great culture with innovation, growth and engagement at the centre. It is this relentless leadership, this best leadership, that will undoubtedly keep them in the list.
There’s so much for us to learn from the approach at UKTV. The whole thought process around culture being less of a ‘task’ and more of a ‘journey’, and critically, without a final destination, is vital to building and sustaining a culture to be proud of.