Andrew Thornton on ‘How the Heart Programme works and why’


Hib logo

The Heart Programme gets people more engaged with each other and with the business they work for. And by being more engaged, they are more involved and feel more ownership.

Lets step back though and answer the why question first. If you are a regular reader, you’ll have heard me quote the Gallup statistic that 87% are emotionally disconnected from their work.

One of the reasons for this is that people feel they have to be a certain way in work. That they can’t be fully themselves. Another is that they feel they aren’t important and are not listened to; and that their ‘bosses’ don’t really care about them, just about making ‘the (profit) plan’. Add all that together and people close down and don’t ‘fully show up’. For businesses that means that they only have access to a certain percentage of that persons talent.

On the other hand, if people feel cared for, that people do want to hear what they have to say and that they don’t have to ‘perform’ in a certain way – they can bring all of themselves to their work.

When we developed the Heart Programme for Thornton’s Budgens, the aim was to get people to open up and to feel safe to do that. So we started with an interview at the start of the programme that allowed them to share themselves  – to talk about their childhood, where they grew up and their relationship with nature – amongst other things. Topics that they had never been asked about before in work.

Then when we got to the workshop, they had a chance to share with colleagues about their lives, what matters to them and what concerns them. And they got to share without being interrupted. One participant commented afterwards “I got 2 whole minutes with the boss fully listening to me”. While you may say no big deal, I challenge you to listen to a colleague for 2 minutes without speaking or interrupting – set a timer, as 2 minutes is a lot longer than you think!

Another comment someone made was being able to share something very personal that they felt they couldn’t share with anyone else in their life – yet felt safe telling a colleague at the Heart Programme.

So what you then get is a team of people who feel safe to share and do. They feel safe to speak up, to share ideas, to share concerns – and they feel closer to each other. And you can pick that up when you go into the store and you can see it in much better team work. The team are happier and we have seen that in our results – both in terms of customer satisfaction and sales.

Last weekend we had the turning on of the Belsize Park Christmas lights. A first as we have never had Christmas lights in the area before and we had the honour of local resident Tom Conti doing it; and we were giving away minced pies and mulled wine. I arrived a bit beforehand with my girlfriend and was just watching three of the team preparing behind the deli. They were all laughing, smiling and joking with each other. They are a team that are happy to work together, to be together and of course in that place, they’ll do a much better job and customers will feel it.

Click here to read more about the Heart Programme and watch a short video on how it works.

I’d love to know your thoughts so please comment below!

HP opening image copy