Transform from the top

Steve Pateman, Executive Director, Head of UK Banking, considers how the attitude of upper management is crucial in creating a positive business culture.

Success doesn’t come easy

2011 saw reality set in for governments, banks, businesses and the ‘man on the street’. The austerity measures now in place look as though they are here to stay. But out of challenge comes opportunity. Even in the current climate, there are many companies that continue to strive for, and to achieve, sustainable success. For instance, as part of Santander’s sponsorship of the event, I am presenting this year’s EEF Future Manufacturing Awards, and have been heartened to see the resilience and ingenuity being demonstrated by the companies shortlisted. Across all sectors, a new approach is emerging, one which puts high quality products and services first, based on gaining a deeper understanding of customers. This will be the engine of recovery for the UK, and it is important that banks are there to support companies, taking a long-term perspective and providing growth capital solutions rather than formulaic lending. The leaders of these businesses are showing that getting it right in a downturn creates an impressively robust business model.

Leading people

If people are the lifeblood of a business, then its leader is the heart – working together to sustain the health and vigour of an organisation. By demonstrating insight and enthusiasm, those in upper management will motivate staff to perform to the best of their abilities, and feel proud of their achievements. This, crucially, creates a positive business culture; ensuring customers enjoy the process of engaging with your staff and want to come back again and again. It is also worth keeping in mind that once a culture is embedded it can be difficult to change.

The road ahead

As we move into 2012, it might appear that there’s not much of a silver lining to the clouds filling the skies. I would advise businesses to take a good look at their offering, decide what is great about it, and be unapologetic in getting this message out there. Embrace new media and new technologies in reaching customers, be creative, be inspired, and most of all don’t get entrenched in how you’ve ‘always’ done things. The opportunities are there if you are willing to reach out and grab them. Again, strong leadership will push this attitude through to your staff, to your customers and, ultimately, to your balance sheet.

The Final of the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards was held on 26 January 2012: www.eef.org

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK