Check out http://www.heraldscotland.com/business/corporate-sme/doing-business-the-john-lewis-way-1.1073762. This is an excellent article about the culture that the John Lewis group has crafted. The MD of the Glasgow store Kim Lowe is quoted as saying ” there is a sense of family community spirit at John Lewis, the business employs like minded people who are civilised to each other and treat each other well.” Kim goes on to say” that ruthless and overly ambitious people who want to climb over their colleagues to get ahead would probably not like working here“. The John Lewis group even have their own constitution in which their cultural values are enshrined which states ” the partnership’s ultimate purpose is the happiness of all its members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business. Because the partnership is owned in trust for its members, they share the responsibilities of ownership as well as its rewards – profit, knowledge and power.” John Lewis also place great emphasis on external community works. However, they are also a commercial business and a very competitive business at that. They demand high standards of service and productivity from all shareholders. Yes shareholders, because all employees are also shareholders in the business.
John Lewis develop all of their policies and strategies through a net work of committees and staff councils thus allowing ongoing dialogue with all share holders in the business. The business is referred to throughout the organisation as “The Partnership” . What is also particularly interesting is the emphasis their constitution places on power sharing ” power in the partnership is shared between three governing authorities, the partnership Council, The Partnership Board and the Chairman”. Every one at John Lewis has a voice and is empowered to use it without fear of chastisement or reprimand . John Lewis encourage respect, fairness, dialogue and collaboration between all staff (shareholders or partners) to work from a leadership base of high credibility and trust.
Good for John Lewis and an excellent example of how culture can be used for good and to achieve a powerful source of collective motivation to succeed and support the company from all staff . For further details check out a case study report on my news articles page of my web site.