A great culture is key to business growth – that was the overriding message from a Future 50 event held at Norwich Theatre on Wednesday, November 2.

The event saw a panel of experts discuss the role of business leaders in empowering people and creating a positive workplace culture.

Charlotte Bate, director of MAD-HR, said it’s crucial for every employee to be invested in the purpose and values of a business.

“I often talk to business leaders, and they're very clear on the purpose of their organisation,” she said. “Then, when I go and talk to other team members, it gets a little bit muddy. This is a concern when it is the team who is responsible for achieving the purpose.

“A high-performing team absolutely understands why they are there – having that clear, distinct sense of purpose is really important.”

Charlotte added that empowerment “isn't this kind of tangible thing that you can give to people”.

“Empowerment is actually a feeling of being in control of your working environment – and having the permission and authority to make decisions,” she said.

“It is about individuals taking responsibility for themselves and their own contributions, as well as how they can work together as a team to make the biggest impact.”

Lynn Walters, co-founder and director of Pure Resourcing Solutions, said the company has benefited from involving the whole team in setting its values, vision and strategy.

Rewarding employees for both behaviour and results has also paid dividends, she added.

“Every quarter, every individual writes their own business plan,” she explained. “Everybody has a quarterly bonus based on that plan, which rewards a combination of results and how they have behaved.

“So, if someone has done a brilliant job and really supported their team to be successful, but they haven't done what they hoped to achieve that quarter, they will still be rewarded.”

The Comet: A number of Future 50 members attended the event held at Norwich Theatre on Wednesday, November 2A number of Future 50 members attended the event held at Norwich Theatre on Wednesday, November 2 (Image: Denise Bradley)

Norwich-based LSI Architects “has a culture that promotes healthy unrest”, said CEO Ben Goode. “It allows people to feel safe not only to act, but also safe to ask and safe to suggest. We believe that a healthy culture comes from leadership, but also good leadership emerges from a healthy culture.

“Leadership is a choice – it's not a rank,” he added. “Not everyone wants to be a leader, but everyone can choose to show leadership. It's leadership to ask a question, give some feedback or support the team.”

Ben added that treating people in the right way can stand any leader in good stead.

“Probably the most valuable piece of leadership advice, maybe life advice, I've been given – and something that I try hard to demonstrate every day – is to always be kind,” he said.

“We work tirelessly to keep people well and support them when they aren't,” he continued. “We give people life skills and support to build and maintain good habits, we create a culture that removes the shame and stigma around mental health and we support each other to be a self-soothing organisation.”

Catherine Hodds, HR consultant at Birketts, agreed. “It's about being decent to people,” she said. “You might make some process errors and you might do some things wrong, but if you treat people the way they want to be treated, you probably won’t make enormous mistakes as a leader.”

For more information about the Future 50 programme, please visit www.future50.org