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Building Better Cultures

Hosted by Scott McInnes, founder of Inspiring Change, we talk to guests about how really good internal comms, engagement and leadership all contribute to 'Building Better Cultures'. We tend to shy away from theory and focus more on really practical advice, great stories and best-practice.

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Jul 19, 2021

On this episode of the Building Better Cultures podcast, Scott McInnes welcomes Jonathan Reed of Paddy and Scott’s coffee. A defining sense of purpose is the seed from which everything else at this disruptive, upstart coffee company grows. Hear Jonathan explain why he believes success starts with an alignment of core values. In the case of Paddy and Scott’s, that means honouring the suppliers of the coffee beans the company serves. Social responsibility and a sense of pride are key to their workplace culture, but the strong employee buy-in comes from something more basic: Fun. Jonathan offers insights into how he hires the right people and cultivates their engagement on the job. He also shares managerial tips that resonate up and down the enterprise: from the coffee bean growers in Kenya to the baristas serving customers at their local cafes to the executive ranks driving the overall metrics and corporate mission.

In an unlikely origin story, Jonathan recalls the wake-up call that transformed the direction of both his business pursuits and life. Flattened by an unplanned afternoon of chasing around a soccer field with his son and a dozen other five-year-olds, he suddenly knew it was time to reorder his priorities. Jonathan wanted his work to reflect the value he placed on wellness and quality of life – not just for his own family but out in the wider world.  Jonathan brought a strong sense of authenticity that defines the entire workplace culture. His goal is to engage every employee by communicating a sense of personal pride not only in Paddy and Scott’s product but in the farmers whose toil provides it.

In addition to employee engagement and transparent internal communications, Jonathan also lets us in on perhaps the most powerful ingredient: Fun! It turns out that doing good also feels good – on the job and in life. With its socially responsible ethos, Paddy and Scott’s workplace culture encourages and listens to voices at all levels. Jonathan uses a personalized leadership approach to empower employees, giving them permission both to make judgment calls and to fail along their path to learning.

Scott elicits from Jonathan candid thoughts on everything from how to energize the typical “bored meeting” agenda to which four questions provide a helpful check on how Paddy and Scott’s is doing both internally and as a force for equity and advancement in the world. For this company, a cup of coffee in your local café equates directly with improved conditions in the Kenyan growing community from which the beans actually come. It’s a win-win-win business proposition … that is all about building better cultures.

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  • About Jonathan and how he has helped evolve Paddy and Scott’s, a coffee company built on social responsibility as a core value.
  • Jonathan initially trained as a hotel manager and within large corporate settings – not the best fit with his preference for entrepreneurial ventures. So he went instead to work at a tech startup focused on employee engagement.
  • The grind of a London commute and a bunch of five-year-old rugby players revealed to Jonathan that it was time to pursue a change of lifestyle.
  • Paddy and Scott’s coffee farm in Kenya is part of a central purpose that fuels the company’s employee engagement and overall success.
  • The role social responsibility plays in employee engagement and customer experience success. Do venture capital investors “get” the intersection?
  • Ways in which  intentional leadership can impact the workplace culture:
    • Place high priority on authenticity.
    • Hire employees who believe in the mission.
    • Ensure that each individual employee feels valued and engaged.
  • Unleashing passion, pushing the envelope and a willingness to fail makes for an engaging, accepting workplace culture.
  • Jonathan’s strategies for having board meetings (versus “bored meetings”) and how he fosters inclusive communications/engagement.
  • Four questions typically posed to an employee chosen at random to provide feedback at each of Paddy and Scott’s board meetings:  
    • How are we doing as a business?
    • How are we doing as a business geared to making a positive impact?
    • Tell us about the impact you’re having or hope to have at Paddy and Scott’s?
    • What are the barriers that limit your brilliance?
  • Challenges integrating new leadership ideas into a wider workplace culture.
  • Transparency as a powerful tool for building communication and buy-in up and down the company.
  • Why Jonathan views effective leadership as not dissimilar from effective parenting.
  • Jonathan’s hiring ethos and tricks for recruiting quality employees who want to go the extra mile.
  • Customer influence and the role it plays in building strong businesses inside and out, including ways of keeping the job fresh and focused on the mission. (Hint: Fun is a big part of it.”
  • Internal Communications strategy: How to foster consistent messaging within a distributed work environment:
    • Jonathan sends out a personal email each week, highlighting stand-out employees.
    • Emphasis is placed on a message throughout the company that HQ and field staff are all part of one family.
    • What’s App – fun and illuminating way to have casual conversations!
    • In-person (Covid-19 notwithstanding) gatherings among team and departments.
    • Setting metrics that inspire data-driven goals and participation.
  • What’s the differentiator that sets Paddy and Scott’s apart? Disrupting the traditional farm-to-cup retail chain, rebalancing profits to better serve the actual coffee growers’ communities.





Learn more about Scott McInnes, founder and director of Inspiring Change, by clicking here.


To discover Workvivo, a workplace communication platform that offers seamless digital integration, please click here.