Great British Bake Off: #GBBO teaches us that people are key

September 26, 2016

Leeds based HR180 supports organisations with Outsourced HR and HR Consulting throughout the UK. Expert opinion is one of our strengths – so here’s Claire Morley-Jones on lessons we can learn from the Great British Bake Off – and it’s not about avoiding a soggy bottom…

HR180 Outsourced HR and HR Consulting Leeds UK

For some, the big news of last week was ‘Brangelina’ and the downfall and sale of GBBO to Channel 4.  Whilst I am an avid baker, having 2 year old twins does mean I don’t get to watch much telly, therefore, I cannot confess to being a huge GBBO fan (I do normally try and catch the final though!)  However, I did realise that there is a lot we can learn from the show about the importance of people – and that can be applied to any business anywhere.

You could potentially have the best idea, product or service in the world but you don’t have much if you don’t have the people who will pull it all together.  Initially that will be you, but as you get bigger you will need others to help you on your journey: how do you get them to replicate what you stand for and how do you then keep them (if indeed you want to!)

I do, of course, understand the reasons behind why Channel 4 wanted the show; the format with a slightly younger presenter will probably appeal to a younger audience and even if they only get half the viewers of the BBC they’ll still make it a really successful programme for their channel.  Without Mel, Sue and Mary, however, it will be entirely unrecognisable!

So what can that teach us about the importance of people in your business?

Know what your people are motivated by

If you want to keep your people (and clearly they need to be people you do!) then you really need to understand what they are motivated by.  In this case, it’s definitely not money as all three stars were offered much larger sums to jump ship with the show!  In Paul’s case, perhaps he has gone to Channel 4 because his other business activities involve the sale of products (such as baking mixes and bakeware) and he sees more potential for advertising them, thus generating more additional revenue, than he had on BBC.  There are all sorts of motivators and whilst money is always the one people think of first, it is rarely the true motivator.  An Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) study found that 59% of respondents reported that job enjoyment was their number one priority with 39% requesting more ‘praise’ and ‘feeling valued’.  Given that these are effectively free at point of giving, why wouldn’t you send a little note to someone for a job well done or ask your teams opinion on something important?  You don’t need big schemes or reward programmes – just to remember that you’re all in it together!

Your culture needs to resonate with every employee

Frequently we ask prospective clients what’s your culture?  We normally have 3 types of response:

“We have culture statements”

When we ask what they are, there is a lot of hesitation and we very quickly discover that they are not in any way bedded in and truly lived

“Its x, y and z”

And yet throughout the meeting the Directors don’t deliver against those values at all and often are actually using them as an excuse not to deal with situations they feel are “too difficult”.

“Our employees create it and we live it”


Your culture though is constantly changing and adapting to the people you employee, the leaders you have in post and the situations you are facing.  Therefore, this needs to constantly be under review – it’s not enough to put a “culture” in place it’s a flexible, adaptive thing that needs constant care and attention to grow and flourish.  What might have once been right for the company, can no longer be right very quickly and that can changes your culture in a instant – you always need to be on the lookout.

Your customers and clients are invested

The people most upset and disgusted about the GBBO news are the audience!  They are the individuals that have invested their time and interest in a show that they feel has now been ruined and will “not be the same”.  (To be fair, it will simply be a tent in a field with some very expensive cookers!)  No-one likes change – it’s a well known fact!  Along with personnel changes in your business comes uncertainty from your clients about whether they will get on with the new person, whether they will retain the same relationship and service delivery.  There is much you can do to get over this hurdle – employ consistently good people, act quickly when employees have issues in performance, have multiple people working with the same client to guarantee consistency.

Loyalty to the brand

The brand says a lot about you and who you are.  Different or just another one of the same?  Unique or Corporate?  Think Google (Unique) versus Microsoft (Corporate) or Liberty (high end, quality) or Primark (cheap, poor quality) – don’t forget “a rose of any other name would smell as sweet”, it’s not your name that matters – it’s the whole package that makes up your brand.  It’s also your strategy and what you stand for – if people don’t agree with that they will vote with their feet!

So all in all, whilst I personally still feel there were more important stories in the news last week, there’s a lot we can learn from the actions of Channel 4 and the loyalty of the BBC presenters.

Contact the HR180 Heroes by calling on 0845 458 5881 or 0113 287 8150

(Image source the Independent/BBC)

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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