Getting the best out of people – thoughts from Riverford founder, Guy Watson

The best thing about getting a weekly vegetable box delivery from Riverford – aside from the yummy fresh organic veggies of course – is the short letter included in the box from founder Guy Watson. This week, writing in response to the General Election result in the UK, he shares some thoughts on motivation and management and hits the nail on the head in his usual eloquent style:

What I find so depressing about modern post-Thatcherite Conservatism (and only marginally less so about post-Blairite Labour) is the apparent ubiquitous cynical belief that appealing to personal greed is the only way to get anything done… In the real world, where businesses have to compete by getting the best out of people, it has largely been abandoned as a piece of failed, ideologically driven dogma.

… Ultimately we all want to feel good about ourselves and at work this falls broadly into three areas: feeling we are learning and getting better at stuff, feeling some control over our lives and feeling a sense of purpose. To believe that ‘carrot and stick’ management is why a nurse will care for a patient, a parole officer will struggle to support a young offender or why a programmer would write exceptional code is crass to the point of incredulity.

I couldn’t agree more. My only hope is that more and more businesses, and leaders and workers within them, wake up to this realisation and we can build a better society that way, nevermind who is in government.



We need to be comfortable to be productive

Where is your most ‘comfortable’ place to work? If you’re anything like me, and more on the introverted side of the scale, it’s unlikely to be an open-plan office. @GoogleforWork find that 36% of people prefer somewhere ‘isolated and quiet’, and 43% sat somewhere ‘comfortable and relaxing’. That probably explains all the workers you see plugged into laptops with headphones on in coffee shops in any big city these days. We want to be somewhere quiet where we can focus, but we also want to be comfortable. Although we like to be isolated, we don’t necessarily want to be alone.

Blake Morgan writes for on how introverts can thrive in an extrovert workplace and her main advice is to be clear about what you need to be happy and thrive at work. Don’t just put up with the noise and distraction of an open-plan office because others do. Find where and how you do your best work and then find an employer willing to give you that space and opportunity.