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Beating a divisive culture helped us improve as leaders

Divisive culture
The damage being done to the business could not be ignored by Udhi Silva

The problem

Pork scratchings company Snaffling Pig faced a challenge when it came to reconciling a divisive culture among its staff. With office and warehouse staff working in separate buildings, an “us and them” mentality had rooted itself in the company. For COO Udhi Silva, it was crucial that staff united behind the same vision to help the business move forward.

The solution

Snaffling Pig recognised that since the warehouse and office had completely different cultures, the same leadership style couldn’t necessarily be applied to both.

The first step was to make sure the management team were rolling their sleeves up and get involved in every aspect of the company. As Silva said, it’s important for employees to recognise that leaders aren’t far away in an ivory tower.

The next step was to ensure there were company-wide values that were relevant to everyone. The warehouse staff didn’t really care about or understand the values in place in the office, so Snaffling Pig worked on creating a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”: to one day be as big as Walkers and as loved as Lego. It provided something more tangible for staff across the company to work towards.

Silva was motivated to look at how other business leaders work and bring those findings back to Snaffling Pig. He’s also started spending time with other brands – most recently Innocent – for inspiration on how the company could improve further.

The results

Snaffling Pig’s retention levels improved significantly after working on the negative “us and them” mentality. The company is relying less on agency staff because the 11-strong team of permanent staff are keen to take on more work.

Its turnover recently hit £8m expansion options are being considered. Silva’s more confident in stepping back and delegating if leadership becomes overwhelming – he’s sure people will step up and say “I want the extra responsibility”.

“I’ve learnt that if you set yourself up with people who are really enthusiastic, it helps drive you along as a leader,” said Silva. “And you should always give people the benefit of the doubt. Let them own something, whether its responsibility or looking after a customer or supplier.”

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