Telenet CEO John Porter places culture above strategy.

“Culture is our only asset that can’t be copied,” says John Porter, CEO of Telenet. “Truly valuing our employees is essential to connecting them to our company,” says the top executive of Belgium’s largest cable television provider. Nathalie Arteel asked John Porter how Telenet is managing to build a unique values-driven culture.

Clear values form the basis

Telenet invests a lot in employees. This is necessary because, according to Porter, it is quite a challenge to get everyone going more or less the same way. “Pursuing the same strategy and goals as one big family is only possible thanks to a common set of values.”

“Shared values and goals are the foundation of culture.” – John Porter

Yellow blood

John Porter came on board at Telenet in 2013 – then still a ‘challenger’ in the telephony market. Yet, according to him, there was already talk of the so-called yellow blood running through the veins of Telenet employees. “People were also very proud to work for Telenet at the time.”

Today, Telenet is a company that comes more emphatically to the fore. There is a clear ‘purpose’ in which the customer and their society are central. The difference from almost 10 years ago is that Telenet now has a 360-degree product range to make this happen.

“Culture goes beyond a transaction between employer and employee or customer; we build full-fledged relationships between people.”

If you care about people, culture will follow naturally

Valuing and recognising people for their work is not something that happens spontaneously in our society, according to Porter. In Flanders, it is a matter of course that you will do your job well. “So if that appreciation doesn’t follow spontaneously, then we as a company have to put in some extra work,” says Porter. “Appreciating people for their good work, giving positive feedback and treating people humanely are the ways to make culture possible at Telenet. Shared corporate values and objectives also play an important role in this.”

Leadership must set a good example

Porter believes that servant leadership and appreciative leadership works. “Setting a good example multiplies that positive behaviour all by itself.” Porter makes it a priority. In fact, he says, the ‘recognition’ programme at Telenet is a critical success factor for the company.

“The employees are our ticket to the future,” Porter states. “Companies are only as good as the people who work there. And it’s a way to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”

“Just as we invest heavily in telecoms infrastructure, investing in the well-being of our people is equally important.” – John Porter

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