Creating a collaborative culture with BTG

Oasis and Bettys & Taylors Group are long-term organisational development partners, creating a collaborative, leaderful business with values at its heart.

Working with Oasis is not for the faint-hearted but the benefits are just incredible. It is a journey that you take together and we all get a huge amount out of it.

Lesley WildChairman, Bettys & Taylors Group

Oasis first worked with Bettys & Taylors Group helping them to address questions relating to succession, cultural change, development of leadership skills within the governing body and senior team, and helping to embed even deeper relationships with shareholders.

That set the foundation for a whole organisation development process that was initiated in January 2010.

Bettys & Taylors Group is an independent family business based in Harrogate, specialising in craft baking and confectionery, teas and coffees, with catering and retail branches across Yorkshire. They are the business behind the Yorkshire Tea brand and the legendary Bettys Café Tea Rooms.

The business takes great pride in its ethical trading relationships; its commitment to being environmentally responsible and its approach to being a great place to work.

From a traditional model to collaborative working

When Oasis came on board we created an approach to people and organisational development that reflected the deeply-held values of the business, as well as a methodology that helped it to make some of the most substantial changes it had faced in the 90 years since it was established.

Like many family businesses which start out small, BTG’s management structure was based on a paternalistic model, with one person overseeing the whole. Under former Chief Executive and chairman Jonathan Wild’s 35-year leadership the business had become tremendously successful.

But with over 1,200 employees the company had grown to the point where it was no longer possible to operate in the same ways. Mr Wild retired in 2011 and the decision was made to make major changes.

Lesley said: “Everybody waited to be told what to do; although we were still making money, if we carried on like that for any length of time it would have been the beginning of the end. We needed a fundamental shift in culture and approach. Oasis take that sort of approach and they are not afraid to tell you the truth.”

Together we have been working on changing BTG from a family business with a traditional structure to one with a less hierarchical model. Four directors share Collaborative CEO duties. Longer-term strategic thinking and practice now lives across the business, giving those involved a renewed direction and purpose.

Unlearning, learning and growing up

Developing a more self-initiating and accountable culture has been tackled as part of a process of “unlearning” old habits and behaviours and embracing ways of working that have been designed and shaped by staff.

As part of this a bespoke leader development programme was devised and rolled out to senior managers, branch managers and bakery managers.

Lesley says: “We struggled in our business to deal with conflict. We were terribly nice to each other but in the end that can be a problem because we were not being as honest as we needed to be.”

People are enthusiastic about the changes and can see real potential and possibility for themselves having more autonomy and more control over their area and roles.

“There is the ability to have healthy challenge and to have grown-up conversations about behaviour which we could not do before,” says Lesley.

To find out more about collaborative working, leadership development and culture change in a family business, you can watch the following short films:

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Visit the Organisation Hub to find out more about our work with organisations. To have a conversation about changing the culture of your organisation please contact us or call us on 01937 541700.