Connecting through culture at Slater and Gordon
Creating a digital legal business is all about getting the right technology in place… isn’t it? Actually, no. Technology’s just a tool. It’s people who build a business. And to do that, you need a united, connected culture…
Slater and Gordon (S+G) is one of the UK’s leading consumer law firms. They provide high quality, technology-driven legal services across a wide range of legal areas, from personal injury to family law, residential conveyancing to criminal defence.
In 2018, S+G set out a new strategy – 1 in 21 – to become the UK’s first digital legal business. This exciting, ambitious strategy required a total transformation from the inside out. Changing systems and processes was just the start… culture needed to shift to make a digital future reality.
Thing is, culture isn’t something an organisation has, it’s something it is – so change must run deep. And with that realisation S+G contacted the team here at The Culture Club for expert help.
To shape and shift a culture, you need to understand and change the organisation itself. So our project started with digging deeper, working out where S+G was – and where they wanted to go.
A journey of discovery
Discovery sessions with over 150 colleagues flagged the hotspots, highlights and challenges. We learned that given S+G’s legacy of acquisition, it was a real melting pot of cultures. To transform, people needed a shared way of being as well as a strategy to work toward – a meaningful, connecting shared idea to unite behind.
Introducing the S+G Way
The solution? The all-new S+G Way. Clear, inspiring, practical and actionable, it sums up how S+G operates at its best, bridging the gap between values and behaviours – and disparate subcultures. Most importantly, it was built using colleague insight gathered during the discovery sessions – taking the best of culture from every corner of the business to create an ownable, relatable, altogether better shared way.
Putting words into action
Making sure that the S+G way didn’t become just a set of words on the wall meant launching with a bang, with sneak peeks to get leaders inspired and fired up, before revealing it to everyone with roadshows and events and a comprehensive comms programme.
Every colleague’s companion…
From shaping how colleagues work in a post Covid-19 world – and providing the bedrock of S+G’s EVP – through to forming the foundations of performance reviews and colleague development, the S+G Way is now embedded across the colleague experience.
The impact is clear across employee satisfaction, engagement and culture:
Happiness index up
Satisfaction in communications
Would recommend S+G as an employer
Net Promoter Score (eNPS) – up from -36
Top tips for starting your own culture movement
Here are our top tips for shaping or shifting company culture:
1. Clarify what you mean by culture
Google ‘what is company culture?’ and you’ll find more than 2.2 billion results. There isn’t one right answer for this and most of us have our own definition. Before you do anything, agree and clarify what culture means to your organisation so you know what’s in and out of scope.
2. Bring leaders on board
Culture can be divisive. For some leaders, it’s soft and fluffy. For others, it’s what gives the competitive edge. The aim is to give culture credibility. Boardroom buy-in early on will make everything easier later down the line. In fact, culture change without leadership support is going to be an uphill struggle!
Start any culture project by positioning culture as an enabler of organisation’s strategy. Engage your leaders by asking them questions as simple as: how does your organisation need to operate to deliver on your strategy? How is that different to today?
3. Keep it real – or at least 70% real
If you are using values and behaviours to spark culture shift – like we did with S+G – be careful to make sure they are grounded firmly in reality. It’s OK to be aspirational, but they must also be credible for colleagues who work there today. We used the S+G Way to describe the great things colleagues did quite a lot of the time but didn’t do consistently. They were the things that colleagues valued the most and that brought out their best.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend being about 70% in realistic and 30% aspirational.
4. Small and incremental steps
They say the tortoise always wins the race, and we couldn’t agree more. Breaking your culture shift into small, practical and incremental steps will deliver big impact without scaring people off or shutting anyone down. Focus on doing a few things well and then move on to the next.
5. Use them or lose them
Without your people, your organisation’s culture doesn’t exist. They are how your culture lives, breathes – and changes. To make a successful shift, be proactive about involving colleagues wherever you can. Hera are a few ways we involved S+G’s employees:
- Gathering insight – so we could understand the current reality
- Testing and developing ideas – to make sure everything resonated
- People manager workshops – to support and equip them
- Influencer network – to champion change
- Team talks – for updates, ideation and shaping ways of working
“I loved working with The Culture Club. They have a brilliant breadth of experience and knowledge and can turn their hand to anything from designing events, to great creative strategic culture change programmes. They keep things clear, human and simple and have always helped me make an impact. I highly recommend working with them”