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OPINION: How to create a safe environment for your staff to thrive in – Andrew Thornton

Stores thrive when teams can share ideas and problems freely, but creating this trust requires work and support

Andrew Thornton’s former team pictured out side Thornton’s Budgens Bel size Park in north London

The third – and I think most important – component of a ‘heart-centred business’ is safety. As a leader, if you want people to be themselves and practise authentic leadership, then you have to create a safe environment.

Andrew-thornton headshot
Andrew Thornton is the former owner of Thornton’s Budgens, founder of Heart in Business and author of upcoming release ‘Putting the heart back into business’

This will lead to a healthy and collaborative culture, allowing your business to thrive. For example, at Thornton’s Budgens, we had a culture of experimentation, and everyone was encouraged to participate in this.

Ideas did not need to be signed off by me or the co-leaders – we did not have a store manager. We trusted that teams knew their purpose and were experts in their areas – after all, they were closest to our customers.

If, having encouraged this behaviour, I, or one of the others in the leadership team, reprimanded someone for trying something new, they wouldn’t do it again.

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