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Sean McPheat

MTD Training

Managing Director

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Improving Culture? It Takes More Than A Pool Table


We’re currently going through an office redesign at MTD Training and during an initial meeting with one of the potential office designers they recommended:

“In order to build a high performing culture you should look at putting in a pool table. According to the plans you’ll have room next to the digital learning team and operations”

With one eyebrow raised a la The Rock (for those of you that can remember him in his WWE days) I replied that it would help with the office environment for sure and it would definitely help to reduce stress levels, but it would not be THE answer to improving culture.

Pool tables, bean bags, unlimited holidays, ping pong tables....

These all seem to be what some companies are turning to in order to help build a high performance culture rather than really focussing in on what matters most.

Thinking that a pool table will be the answer is like covering a cancerous growth with a plaster.

Instead, you should be focusing more on these 5 areas:

Providing Clarity & Communication

Provide clarity around roles, where the business is heading and clarity around any concerns that are “bubbling” under the surface.

More focus should also be made on having those courageous conversations with the people or groups that are getting in the way of progress.


Listen to your staff. Take an interest in your staff. Their ideas, their concerns and what’s happening in their life.

This is really important to them.

Sometimes your people just need a good listening to rather than a good talking to.

Develop your staff

People need progression and need to be moving forward.

That doesn’t always mean promotion. Help them to move forward in their personal growth and skills.

Most people just want to be able to do their job more effectively.


Are your people allowed and empowered to try new things (and not have any comeback if they do not work out!)

Can they come up with ideas to improve processes, systems, the customer experience etc


What are you doing to encourage team working and collaboration between teams and people?

Or does everyone work in silos and only interested in their department or work?

Remember that your culture is created by your people.

If your people aren’t engaged then performance will definitely suffer no matter how much your ping pong game improves!

So if you’re going to invest in a sleeping pod, office twister or a connect 4 zone (yes, I saw that recently) make sure that you also invest some time and energy in those 5 areas too.

They will produce far more results in the long run.


Author Profile Picture
Sean McPheat

Managing Director

Read more from Sean McPheat

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