Trusted Executive Foundation Interview with Andrew Selley, CEO, Bidfood UK

Andrew Selley is the CEO of Bidfood UK who are a leading foodservice wholesale distributor and the preferred supply partner for over 60,000 customers across the UK. Andrew is also a Commissioner on the RSA’s Food, Farming & Countryside Commission. In this interview with the Trusted Executive Foundation, Andrew highlights the critical importance of trust in supporting the transformation at Bidfood UK.

On the importance of trust:

‘Food scandals make front page news, so the integrity of the food supply chain is essential for success in our marketplace. Our customers implicitly trust us to source and deliver high-quality products from known sources and when they place this trust in us it is our responsibility to deliver on it.’

On building a high trust culture:

‘When I assumed leadership of the Bidfood business, I asked over 120 senior managers to give me three words to describe what they didn’t like about the business currently, three things they wanted the business to be like in the future, and the one thing they wanted the business to be famous for. This distilled down into the essence of our transformation story; we moved from a complicated, bureaucratic , silo-thinking organisation towards being a simple, proactive meritocracy that wanted to be famous for service excellence.’

‘We simplified the structure from a regional management team to one of locally empowered managers in order to improve communication and consistency of message. This allowed one application and implementation of our strategy across the whole business.’

‘Additionally, we placed a lot of energy into our communication efforts with multiple channels to ensure everyone in the business understands our goals and business strategy. These include conferences, videos, monthly ‘core briefs’ and a ‘Your Voice’ annual survey where our people get their say. It is part of this process that each function and depot must include this feedback in their action plans.’

‘We are open to feedback from all, nobody knows better when you do something stupid in business than the people who work in it. They ask, ‘why do you keep doing that?’ and you lose trust if you do not listen to them and put it right’ We make sure we listen!’

On the challenges of building trust:

‘As a global business, we are de-centralised therefore the responsibility and accountability for performance is placed at the local, operational level with the corresponding level of empowerment. This requires a high degree of trust from the parent organisation that delivers a responsive and flexible approach to both large, national customers and regional, local independent customers. This also allows our general managers to source locally as required to meet local demand and local provenance requirements which leads to better customer intimacy and trust.’

‘At Bidfood we have a simple three values model; Care, Share and Dare. Care means to take pride in what you do, no matter what you do, irrespective of role or position. Share means working together to make great things happen and this is where trust facilitates more effective working together and, finally, Dare means taking brave steps to achieve extraordinary results. We want our people to operate effectively, not limit themselves and take a chance every now and then.’

The Nine Habits of Trust:

The nine habits of trust model

Reflecting on the interview with Andrew, he and the Bidfood team value trust as a key success factor and actively model many of the nine habits of trust that constitute the three pillars of ability, integrity and benevolence. The Bidfood team are honest and open (Habits No.4 & No.5) in their stakeholder communication and ensure this is a two-way street to capitalise on the knowledge and experience across the whole business.

It is also interesting to note the explicit reference to being brave (Habit No.8) within Bidfood’s values (Care, Share, Dare), which is refreshing and rare within most organisations. Creating an environment where people are encouraged to ‘take a chance’ is very powerful for both motivation and learning which in this case is obviously part of their continued success.

Despite delivering significant value and transformation at Bidfood and driving a highly ambitious goal for growth by 2020, what strikes you during the interview is Andrew’s humility. He is evangelical (Habit 7) about the business and all its stakeholders whilst remaining humble (Habit 6) about his own contribution. This is a powerful combination and Andrew’s passion for the business, it’s people and its impact shines through,

Our thanks to Andrew for his time and for allowing us to share his insights from the interview.

For more information on the Trusted Executive Foundation please refer to this short introductory video

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