Day 9: When two become one: building a single culture

toruslogoWhat do you get when you mix an upside down lion, a beehive and a custom Minecraft game?

Well a fairly lively Friday morning for one. And a view into the world of North West housing group Torus.

These symbols and mechanisms were all part of an impressive mixed media approach to storytelling by a group of leaders, tasked with sharing their stories and interpretations of the new Torus corporate behaviours.

Peck Torus Today I’m delighted to welcome Peck-Har Tan (pictured) @Peck_Torus to the All Things IC blog Countdown to Christmas series.

She’s Torus’ Communications Business Partner for Internal Communications and Culture and has penned this brand new article to share their exciting work.

I’ll hand you over to her…

When two become one: building a single culture

Torus was formed in April 2015 when existing successful housing associations Helena Partnerships and Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT) joined forces.

Less than three months into our journey as a group, like all other housing providers, we were hit by an iceberg in the form of the Government’s summer budget.

We spent the remainder of 2015 steadying the ship and re-scoping our ambitions.

Integration and operational change were always a key part of the Torus journey. These external factors simply accelerated the need to change.

Helena and GGHT separately were both about the ‘how’ not the ‘what.’ Despite the challenges we were faced with we held our heads up high and knew that our people would get us through the tougher times.

Our challenge was getting people to feel as one.

It turns out that a burning platform of £17m savings over four years really does focus the mind and bring people together.

Three months ago we launched a single set of group behaviours that a big proportion of the workforce helped to shape.

We developed a common language and extended the Torus family with a range of funky animals that helped bring the behaviours to life.

Cue lions, bees, dinosaurs, a jaunty sheep and tortoises on a tandem to illustrate ‘getting there quicker together’.

behaviour-badges brave collaborative creative do-the-right-thing

As communicators we created the obligatory imagery and associated collateral to visualise the behaviours and plastered it all across the workplace on plasma screens, desktops, all over Yammer and even in our bathrooms.

Colleagues just couldn’t miss the messages.

But building a new culture is so much more than words on a piece of paper or digital screen.

These just serve as reminders. It’s the invisible cues and actions that drive culture.

Our leaders’ event was a chance to reflect, celebrate and most importantly press pause on transforming Torus for just a few hours.

We challenged them to create a 15 minute pitch of how they would work together in 2017 and beyond to further embed the behaviours across the business.

The only rule was no PowerPoint.

Trello and Yammer were used for collaboration ahead of the meeting to ensure that everybody had a chance to contribute.

The energy of our leaders was palpable and their desire to make decisions, be brave and creative and truly transform contagious.

We were quickly transported to a world of pure imagination as our conference room was transformed into a psychedelic wonderland complete with music from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and dulcet tones of Gene Wilder in the background.




Leaders collaborated to create a Torus Christmas culture tree, a culture video and a Torusville Minecraft world to name just a few.

Not that we needed proof but this event proved yet again that it’s a myth that only communications teams can be creative.

In the past we have been too possessive of owning the content and controlling the bright ideas but all this does is stifle creative thinking.

Now’s the time to nurture the creativity that people didn’t realise they had in the first place.

We’re on the brink of celebrating our second Christmas as a group. 2017 promises to be even more frenetic and challenging.

This time next year our IT systems will be unrecognisable and our service delivery model turned on its head. Far from being daunted by that prospect, an 830 strong Team Torus is ending 2016 with a clear message – bring it on!

We think differently. We behave as one. We are one. We are Torus.

Torus corporate behaviours are:

  • We are creative
  • We are brave
  • We are collaborative
  • We do the right thing
  • We are one
  • We are Torus.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts Peck-Har.

Your comment about the importance of building a Countdown to Christmasculture resonates with me.

Thank you for stopping by.

Do check out my All Things IC advent series to catch up on any articles you may missed since 1 December.

I’m publishing a guest post a day until Christmas Day to highlight stories I’ve featured on the All Things IC blog this year.

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Thank you for stopping by,


First published on the All Things IC blog 9 December 2016.


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