We’re delighted to be working with Well & Being on our CULTURE CLUB series – all about that elusive yet totally essential beast, workplace culture. This is a place where you can come to get your questions answered by our resident experts, and in this first edition we’re hearing from founder Merly and management expert Michelle of QAB Leadership on how to build – and keep – great culture in a growing company. 
And if you have a question yourself? DM or send us an email to service@countertalk.co.uk. We’ll always keep it strictly confidential – and fully actionable.

The Question

“We now have four sites and I’ve noticed that the culture at each place is becoming quite different. How can I ensure that there is culture consistency across sites as we expand, and that it does not slip into something that doesn’t reflect our values?”


It’s important to begin by understanding that as you grow, company culture is a guideline. Whereas in the beginning, it’s typically born from learned behaviours of the founders, leaders and the original team. So, a founder’s cultural intention and message might exist for some employees, but the understanding of it and follow-through might be missing for the newer team members.

Moving forward, even though you might set out an outline of your culture, the truth is it will be driven by the key influencers of each team, although not all key influencers are necessarily leaders. In this context, a key influencer refers to individuals within teams who possess significant sway over cultural direction, dynamics and team opinion, irrespective of formal leadership roles.

Furthermore, it starts by understanding what your culture is and what your culture isn’t. When any space tolerates or accommodates negative behaviour contrary to your desired culture, it drains the ‘good’ culture, overshadowing any positive efforts elsewhere. As Lorraine Copes from Be-Inclusive Hospitality shared with me, “Culture becomes the worst behaviours accepted – irrespective of rank.”

Your leaders and key influencers are vital in building a good culture, and they act as the examples, mentors and stewards of it. So how do you extract the culture you wish to be driven by your key influencers & leaders across multiple sites?

1. Can you and your key influencers articulate what your culture is? What words/values explain it? What behaviours, interactions and actions show it? What shared learnings can be identified to pass along?

2. How could you weave the above to make it part of your processes and be able to measure and celebrate examples of it? This can be done by highlighting and communicating what ‘good’ culture looks like.

3. When the culture is drained due to individuals or when things get tough, leaders must recognise and address it immediately. Team members should feel safe to speak up when the culture isn’t being upheld. No excuses.

4. Is the environment set for cultural success? If these leaders and key influencers are frequently facing challenges, uncertainty and urgent tasks, it becomes difficult for them to uphold the desired culture. What is their reality?


In the same way that you want employees to listen and respond to the company standards, it’s important that your employees also feel informed, listened to and responded to. This builds respect, trust and loyalty to the business and its culture.

For company culture to be upheld and consistent, you want buy-in from all employees, but the truth is that management is the priority for it to succeed. To motivate good company culture, it must come from a place of encouragement, support and communication. Where possible, involve management and key influencers in company-wide decisions, such as policy changes, changes in process and other important issues. People want to be part of the bigger picture.

Visit sites as much as is realistically possible for your schedule, and be approachable. Those micro-moments of interactions with employees are worth their weight in gold in terms of employee-employer relationships and culture. Use these visits as an opportunity to meet, get to know, update, praise and get employee feedback.

Are your company values voiced enough through the company? Think about opportunities where company values can not only be communicated but also demonstrated. This can be achieved whilst onboarding, through team building, training, events or newsletters. You could also showcase hurdles in the company that have been overcome in an exemplary way, thus providing a valuable message for your other employees and venues on how to deal with similar issues, and to demonstrate that they are not alone.

If you want a deeper understanding of what’s working, not working or what may work better, then you could design anonymous feedback forms that can capture this information for you. Or a physical suggestion box that employees can access on-site and where they can leave their feedback. Employees may feel more comfortable speaking up if there’s an option to communicate anonymously. Allow employees to have a say from time to time, they are on the front line and may know of issues and solutions that you aren’t aware of. Their insight could be game-changing for certain processes and company culture.

As you grow, it’s essential to remember that ultimately, it’s your business, not theirs. Your employees will look to you for guidance, clarity and guardianship to nurture the culture you desire. Good company culture is not a nice thing to have, but a must-have, and it’s all about people being able to feel that they are part of a bigger picture. Company decisions and actions become more meaningful and easier to execute when in line with an agreed vision, shared principles and values.

Well & Being co-founder Merly Kammerling is an ex-chef who has been offering psychological support and training since 2018. Well & Being’s leadership expert is Michelle Moreno who has over 25 years of experience in leadership and operations. Between them, they have worked with businesses such as Soho House, Leon, Trinity, Accor Group, Brunswick House, Ministry of Sound, William Grant and Electric Mayonnaise.
Merly and Michelle provide a culture and well-being strategy service to help businesses evolve and build healthy and sustainable workplace cultures. If you would like to hear more about the work that Merly and Michelle do and the services they provide, then head over to Well & Being or email merly@wellandbeing.co,uk / michelle@wellandbeing.co.uk.

Applicant/Business Log in

Don’t have an account? Sign up Forgot Password?