Andrew Thornton on Clearing the cupboard for empowerment

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As I wrote last week, we were delighted our community rose to object to Tesco opening up 150 metres from Thornton’s Budgens. And we took this as a wake up call.  If we are to thrive in the ultra competitive UK food market, we have to raise our game and go deeper into our principles of being a heartful business.  Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan’s  inspiring book, ‘The Three Laws of Performance describes how our past tends to project into our future – be that as individuals or as companies. If we keep repeating the same behaviour, we end up with the same result!

In order to shift and make a change, we need to clear the past.  The analogy used in the book is that of a cupboard. Before we put new stuff into a cupboard, we have to clear out the old stuff first. So this week at Thornton’s Budgens, we have been running a series of clearing meetings, where everyone in the team gets the chance to express what is concerning them. There is also an anonymous suggestion box for those who don’t feel safe to share their issue in public. It is a simultaneously refreshing and challenging process. Refreshing as it genuinely feels we are clearing the air and challenging as a number of the issues raised have come up many times before and we have not dealt with them. And… I have to hear criticisms of my leadership and how I am.

In order to break the cycle and resolve some of these long standing issues, we are forming a council. Six team members will join myself, our store and finance managers to become the policy making body for the business. The first task of the council is to tackle the long list of issues generated from the clearing meetings. We will need to prioritise the list and it may take us a while to get through it.  However, my commitment to the team was that every item raised at the clearing meetings will be discussed by the council.

I believe this is important for two reasons;  first, having an input into decision making is key to people being fulfilled in their work. Through our monthly Heart Meetings, the team already have input into decisions in their departments.  This will expand this.  Secondly, the team who are on the front line, are in a much better place to help resolve issues than those of us ‘who sit in the office’ (as one of the clearing comments pointed out!).

I trust that this process will help resolve what is troubling people and free them to be more fully present with their work and to prepare for the next stage of the journey, empowering everyone in Thornton’s Budgens to do a job they love doing.

I will keep you posted on progress!

With Heart


Andrew Isaac Thornton