How to make your company culture tangible & make it drive your business success

Build the right company culture and business success will follow. This sounds far too simple, but in fact the area of ‘culture’ is where our clients have had greatest success, including winning awards like BRW’s Best Places to Work. We see more business turnarounds based on culture than ANY other area of business, so it’s clearly an important thing to get right if you’re striving for business success (who isn’t??!!)

Why is company culture so important?

The DNA of a Great Company consists of the following things:

  1. Leadership (Vision/Mission/Purpose/BHAG/Strategy/Innovation/Change/Communication)
  2. Great Culture (Values/Beliefs/Gold Standards/Rules of the Game)
  3. Great People/Great TEAMs (Talent/Culture Fit/Performance)
  4. Distinguishable USP/Brand Promise/Guarantee
  5. Lifetime Customer Management Process (From Suspect thru the Life of the Client)
  6. Delivering the WOW Experience (Consistently exceeding the customer expectations on a service level)

Yep – right up there at #2 is Great culture! Only once your culture is set up properly are you likely to attract the right people to your business, and keep them inspired and motivated to work there. And if your people are motivated to work, you are more likely to want to turn up each day too!

Tony Hsieh is CEO of Zappos, and an Advocate of Company Culture. He says “Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.” At Zappos, they hire people who are the perfect cultural fit and fire even the most talented individuals if they don’t.

What are the best ways to create a successful company culture in your business?

Many companies conduct their business without defining exactly what the company’s culture is. Without defining your culture it’s easy for employees to feel lost and unsure about their role and the business in general, or for the wrong culture to develop, or to simply have a very inconsistent culture.

Company Culture consists of three elements: Values & Beliefs, Gold Standards and Rules of the Game.

Element 1. What are the core values, beliefs and behaviours that will allow your vision to be realised? Examples of company values are things like ‘deliver exceptional service’ or ‘be adventurous and open-minded’. Choose up to ten and make sure you and your team believe in them wholly.  They should be defined sufficiently clearly that everyone one in the team can understand what they mean and what it looks like to live up to them. Whilst creating the vision is really the responsibility of the leader, coming up with a set of values, or Culture Statement, is something best done with the involvement of the entire team.

Element 2. ‘Gold Standards’ are examples of your vision in real life terms. Things like ‘positive response to customers within 12 hours’ or ‘flexi-hour for staff each fortnight’. These standards, like your values, must be written down and made available for every person in your organisation to access, so they can buy into them and perpetuate your company culture.

Element 3. ‘Rules of the Game’ are essential, so your team knows how things work in the business on a daily level. Rules for how orders are taken, how complaints are handled or how staff are paid can all be included in Rules of the Game. Once your team have rules, it actually becomes easier for your team to exercise their own creativity and make decisions, based within the boundaries you have set. Remember to be clear on which rules are tight (must never deviate) and which are loose guides (to allow the team some flexibility and space to use their own initiative).

How do you implement company culture?

Once you have your values and rules of the game determined, it’s time to bring the company culture to life and make it real. As a leader or owner, you must embody the culture first. The people you hire will go on to hire the next bunch, so start with YOU.

Once you are actioning the culture, you need an action plan for everyone else, so that your Culture (Values, Beliefs, Gold Standards and Rules of the Game) is alive all day every day, even when you’re not there. Do staff have these ‘culture points’ top-of-mind when performing their role or making business decisions? Sharing your culture points is critical for keeping your team motivated, perpetuating a great culture within the business and of course, for business success!

Grab a pen and a few team members and scribble down any ideas that would help the above statement be true in your organisation. Some action ideas that have worked at companies with great culture include: talking about them every week, giving out some form of culture-based awards, birthday cards, side project grants, team fun-runs, think tanks and cash incentives for great customer service.

Remember that the best culture makes your ideal employees feel safe and welcome, never excluded or uncomfortable.

To see exceptional success in your business through improved company culture, contact the ActionCOACH team today or register for The 6 Steps to Building a Better Business here.


Building a Winning Team by recruiting great people quickly and effectively

How much more could you achieve, if you had the right people in your business to manage certain tasks or roles? And what if you could assemble a dream team to allow you to work on your business AND have a life outside it?

As coaches, we often hear that one of the hardest things in business is finding competent, reliable help. Typically, employees are hired based on a piece of paper and fifteen minutes together 1-on-1. If this process is not working for you, stop using it today and continue reading…

What many business owners don’t realise is; if you want to employ an excellent team, you need to be ‘qualified’ to employ an excellent team. It’s a harsh reality for most business owners, but you really do get what you deserve when it comes to the people working in your business.

So how do you get qualified in building a winning team? Before starting the recruitment process, give attention to your organisation’s structure and the business basics. As yourself, “is my business ready to add more staff?” and “is it clear why great people would want to come and work here?”.  Once you can answer “YES!” to both of these questions, your business is more likely to ‘organically’ attract the right talent, and the recruitment process will become an easier one for you. Read our recent blogs to get up to speed with business organisation and developing leadership skills to build your dream team.

Let’s start by gaining an appreciation of the TEAM itself. Business author and entrepreneur Brad Sugars uses an acronym to sum up the value of TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. Remember why you started your business. Was it to control and be responsible for every minutia of detail and daily task – or was it to manage or oversee a talented and cohesive bunch of people from a sunny verandah somewhere? Ok, glad we got that one straightened out! Now let’s build your team.

Building a winning team is an easy (and enjoyable) process, when you follow ActionCOACH’s ‘Five Hour Recruitment Process’. It’s founded on two core principles:

  1. Recruit for Attitude; Train for Skill. It is easier to fix a skill gap than an attitude gap!
  2. Time Efficiency. Non value-adding activities are removed so as to ensure that the process requires minimum time. The entire process should utilize only 5 hours of the manager’s time.

The Five Hour Recruitment Process

  1. Establish and define a compelling Employer Value Proposition. Make yourself attractive!
  2. Make the decision to employ someone – based on need & affordability.
  3. Write a Job Description / Position Commitment
  4. Include clear responsibilities, accountabilities and KPI’s.
  5. List key requirements/attributes/skills/qualifications that will be required.
  6. Be clear now on what the job is worth and will be paid.
  7. Write an Advertisement.
  8. Headline must grab attention and attract the right candidates. In places like Seek, it is hard to stand out!
  9. The Ad must sell the job and the company. You are trying to attract the best people! Typically, we like to see at least two thirds of the Ad selling the job and company, with only one third explaining the requirements of the job.
  10. Candidates can be sourced from online job sites, local papers, LinkedIn or personal recommendations. Under no circumstances should any candidate bypass the remainder of the process.
  11. The advertisement should request that candidates apply by calling you. Email applications should not be accepted.
  12. An online advertisement should be open for one week, including one full weekend.
  13. Receive Applications.
  14. This is by phone, by you or, better still, by Office Administrator. Reading CV’s at this point is a waste of time.
  15. If someone still submits an application by email and does not call, respond with an automatic email explaining that they must apply by calling.
  16. This initial call must take a maximum of TWO minutes and will end one of two ways:
  17. The candidate will clearly disqualify themselves – communication, tone of voice, attitude, energy, etc. – in which case, advise them “no”; or
  18. If they don’t disqualify themselves, invite them to attend a face-to-face interview. Unless asked by the candidate, do not promote the fact that it is a group interview. Only one time is available so they will need to come in then if they wish to pursue this opportunity. NB. You don’t mind how many people are in the Group Interview so, if they haven’t disqualified themselves in the first minute or so, invite them to attend.
  19. Examples questions that may assist in disqualifying (NB. At this stage, voice, energy, communication, etc. is more important than the content of the answer. However, if the content is sufficiently ridiculous, irrelevant, or stupid, it can disqualify them!):
  20. Why are you so excited by this opportunity?
  21. Why would you be great at this role?
  22. What is your greatest strength?
  23. What is your most relevant experience to this role?
  24. If they are invited to interview, then request that they now send a CV, although don’t yet waste time reading it!
  25. Group Interview. Order of events:
  26. First 20-30 minutes – you present the business and opportunity. You are trying to attract the best candidate to join you so this is a sales pitch you’re making to them!
  27. Explain that, after a quick comfort stop, they will each stand up in front of the group and explain why they’re excited about the role and why they’d be great at it.
  28. They each present – max. 3 minutes each. Ask for volunteers – test enthusiasm!
  29. Provide a final opportunity to ask questions, then close the interview.
  30. Your team should attend (and clients can too) and should be interacting with and assessing candidates throughout. NB. Candidates are still not being assessed on their skills. They are being assessed on attitude and cultural fit. Each of your team should have a 1-page score sheet which will list on the left the candidates and across the top the 6-8 personal attributes you’re looking for (e.g. Communication, first impression, energy, attentiveness). Marks/10 should be awarded for good things noticed in those categories (8/10 or above) or bad things (3/10 or below). I.e. not every candidate will receive a score for every attribute – just the things that stand out.
  31. After the interview, your team can meet to discuss their scores and observations, from which you will choose the 1-3 candidates to invite to 1:1 short-list interview.
  32. Call ALL candidates the next day; advising that they have not been chosen to proceed or that you would like to invite them to return to 1:1 interview – book it.
  33. 1:1 Interview. Order of events:
  34. They talk through their CV from beginning to most recent; you observe trends, patterns and reasons for changes.
  35. Have them perform a skills test relevant to the job. NB. Don’t just believe it. Test it.
  36. Have them complete a DISC profile (created by American psychologist Dr William Marsden in the 1920s, assessing individuals and assigning one behavioural styles; i.e. Outgoing, Task Oriented, Reserved or People Oriented).
  37. If you have an area of concern, ask: “When I call your last manager [insert last manager’s name], what score will he give you out of 10 for [insert skill or attribute about which you’re concerned]? Any answer below 8 should be a red flag.
  38. Next day or two, call to make offer, subject to reference check.
  39. Undertake reference checks, asking specific questions to validate facts and to explore any key areas or possible gaps in skill or other required attribute.

Example Rejection Statement (applicable to rejection at any stage in process):

Thank you very much, but I’m sorry to advise that we won’t be proceeding further with your application.  I appreciate your time and effort but, although we do not provide detailed feedback to all candidates, I do feel that we have candidates who are a closer match to our specific requirements. I wish you all the best in your search and for the future.

This Five Hour Recruitment Process, along with establishing your company values, organising your business structure and gaining an appreciation for the value of TEAM – qualifies you to employ and build a winning team for your business.

If you need some more skills or practice in building winning teams or recruiting, jump online and book a quick session with one of our expert coaches. Or download your free copy of The 6 Keys to creating a winning team here.


Team Development – Know the Rules of the Game for your business

You probably started your business so you DIDN’T have to follow the rules anymore… but when it comes to developing a winning team and culture within your business, there are some rules that are fundamental to business success. ActionCOACH defines ‘team development’ as the process of recruiting, teaching and motivating the right people and teams so that your business can operate with or WITHOUT you!

Three of the most important elements to consider when developing your team are Common Goal, Rules of the Game and Action Plan.

The first element is ‘Common Goal’. If you’ve defined and written down your business’ vision and goals – great work. But having GOALS and having COMMON GOALS are two very different things! Does everyone in your business know what the goals of the business are? Do they have the goals top-of-mind when performing their role or making business decisions? Do they personally fit in with your business goals? Sharing your business goals is critical for keeping your team motivated, perpetuating a great culture within the business and of course, for business success!

To create common goals, involve each team member (to some extent) when developing them, and then share these goals with EVERYONE. Here are a few ideas on how to share your goals: print them up in a staff area; make them accessible on the company network; make them the theme of training days and conferences; make them part of your team development and KPI’s.

When the team is working towards the same common goals, team development happens naturally and business success is much more likely.

The second element is ‘Rules of the Game’. Once you have developed your team, they need to know the rules of the game (just like a winning sports team). So, which ‘rules’ are important specifically for team development? Rules for business processes are extremely useful, so your team knows how things work in the business on a daily level. Rules for how orders are taken, how complaints are handled or how staff are paid can all be included in processes. Once your team have defined processes, it actually becomes easier for them to exercise their own creativity and make decisions, based within the boundaries you have set.

Once the rules for processes are defined, you will need rules that state who is responsible for each process. Remember to be clear on which rules are tight (must never deviate) and which are loose guides (to allow the team some flexibility and space to use their own initiative).

The third set of “rules” for your team is actually your culture.  Having a clearly defined set of values, that the entire team will adhere to, is a vital part of ensuring consistency in how your team behave, how they make decisions and how they deal with each other, with customers and suppliers and with all stakeholders in the business.

The final element to help with your team development is called ‘Action Plan’. You’ve recruited team members based on attitude and have started or will start training them for skill. They are working toward a common goal. They know the rules of the game. Now it’s time for action!

For most of our clients at ActionCOACH, the ultimate desire (and a great measure of business success) is having a business that can operate without them. In order to achieve this, every team member must know what they are supposed to do. As you can guess, if the team doesn’t know what to do, it’s likely that YOU will be doing every function of the business, unable to step away at all.

To develop an action plan, ensure that  each person has an appropriate title, a job description and an explanation of how others will support them in their role. You will need to track that all of the above is being fulfilled, by identifying a handful of KPI’s (4 – 6 things you can objectively monitor to know that a role is being done properly). To support this, a step-by-step plan that leads to the achievement of your goals is really a “must-have”.  Make your action plans available for individual and team reference, to act as a kind of ‘playbook’ for the team and to continue positive team development within your business.

ActionCOACH has helped thousands of Australian businesses with their team development. For advice or coaching in this area contact ActionCOACH on 02 9146 4439. You can also download your eBook called “The 6 Key Elements to a Winning Team” here.


Developing Leadership Skills to build a winning team

No doubt you have been keenly following our blogs on building a dream team to help you create a successful business; one that functions WITHOUT you. Great. So by now you will have started the processes of recruiting team members who share your business vision, know their role and responsibilities and are working towards a common goal.

The next step is developing leadership skills. Specifically YOUR leadership skills! Why do you need to be really good at leading teams? Because teams look to their leaders and business owners for guidance, growth, decision-making and development.

No matter what your natural leadership style, always strive to teach people to think and act for themselves, rather than how to merely execute the same function over and over. Being a teacher will enable you to be truly involved in your organisation and increase the capabilities of the people you have recruited based on the right attitude.

Strong leaders who have developed leadership skills love to seek out new ideas from everyone in their teams and championing them to fruition. Remember to hand out due praise for every new idea brought forward. Who knows? Maybe the next new idea will be the one that catapults your business success.

Movies and TV shows portray an image of a harsh dictatorship as a model of success, but calmness and caring for your teams, and even a simple hello each day will give you an opportunity to connect with your teams and learn about them. Similarly, listening is also a great leadership skill to develop and practice.

Teams will be inspired to come to work each day if they can see that you are having fun with the business. Perhaps remember back to why you started the business in the first place, and use that passion to bring fun to your leadership style.

When we talk about leadership in our programs we often talk about two elements. What is management and what is leadership?

While you are developing leadership skills, you need to make sure the fundamentals of management are in place.  Check out our eBook The 6 Key elements to creating a winning team for more information about having sound management practices set up.  Without the foundation set up correctly it doesn’t matter how good a leader you are, things will just not work as they should.

Now that you have your management processes set up, how can you practice and develop leadership skills?

  • TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE – Leaders think about the future and help others see the future. Involve all teams in discussing and shaping the future of your business.
  • TEACH SOMEONE SOMETHING – Leaders are involved in their organisations and committed to growing organisational capacity. Teaching someone something sends a strong signal of trust and ensures people are learning your processes correctly, therefore future proofing your business.
  • SEEK OUT A NEW IDEA – Actively looking for new ideas to help with your business and championing them shows a lot about your ability to accept change as a leader.
  • SAY “YES” – Leaders aren’t afraid to make a commitment, to make a choice, to move on. Find something where you can say “yes.” Nothing says you trust your organisation more than the power of agreement.
  • TELL SOMEONE THEY DID A GOOD JOB – Handing out praise when someone does a good job not only builds enthusiasm, it also develops trust in your management.
  • GET MAD, THEN GET OVER IT – Great leaders are able to roll with bad news or tough times and quickly move on.
  • MEET SOMEONE NEW – get out and meet the team, or the new team members. You will learn something new and it is visible proof that you care.
  • ACTIVELY LISTEN – Many of us talk about being good listeners, but few of us are really good at it. The next time you are asked to listen to someone, use clarifying and confirming skills, but don’t offer a point of view until the presenter says, “What do you think?”
  • DELEGATE – Before you delegate, ask yourself “What is the worst that could happen – and can I live with that?” Good leaders delegate because they value more personal time, they want to do more and achieve more and they trust the processes in place that help their teams operate the business with them. But beware; you can delegate but not abrogate….be sure to brief them clearly about what is required and to ensure they have the skills and resources to achieve that.
  • BE ENTHUSIASTIC & HAVE FUN – Strong leaders have enthusiasm and energy and they transfer that to the business. If you enjoy what you are doing then others will too. People want to follow people who are enthusiastic and enjoy life and what they do.

These are just a few tips for developing your leadership skills. If you need more help developing your leadership skills, ActionCOACH is highly experienced in coaching good leaders to be great leaders, and in turn helping to create success for their business.

Contact ActionCOACH today 02 9146 4439 to learn more about how we can help you become the best leader you can be. Or download your free eBook The 6 Keys to creating a Winning Team here.


How to build effective teams in your business

What makes a successful business? Think about the biggest and most successful businesses in the world. Do any of their owners have a hand in the daily operations? Are their owners across every decision their employees make? No, they don’t. They’re probably nowhere near the head office on most days. But they have built effective teams who they trust to run their company as if they were there.

At ActionCOACH, our definition of what makes a successful business is one that works WITHOUT you (the owner).

So how do you plan for, recruit and create teams that share your vision, are great at what they do and are able to operate your business without you?

Firstly, having the right company “DNA” in place helps set the foundation for building effective teams.


What does the DNA of a successful organisation include?

1. Leadership (Vision/Mission/Purpose/BHAG/Strategy/Innovation/Change/Communication)
2. Great Culture (Values/Behaviours/ Rules of the Game)
3. Great People/Great TEAMs (Talent/Culture Fit/Performance)
4. Distinguishable USP/Brand Promise/Guarantee
5. Lifetime Customer Management Process (From Suspect thru to Raving Fan)
6. Delivering the WOW Experience (Consistently exceeding the customer expectations on a service level)


Yes, it’s a substantial list, but once you have spent time getting this DNA right, it will form the basis for recruiting, creating and motivating successful teams for your business.  Then it comes down to finding your dream team.  Utilising our recruitment process, it will only take 5 hours of your time to recruit someone; and you’ll be finding your dream team by recruiting first and foremost on Attitude and Cultural Fit – it’s easier to fix a skill gap than an attitude gap. Once you’ve recruited your individual team members, use these six key elements to build effective teams and ensure business success:


Key Element One – Strong Leadership. Your Team will look to you for guidance, growth, decisions and development. The sixth President of the USA, John Quincy Adams, wrote “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” No matter which leadership style you have; give the team direction, hand out praise, champion the team’s new ideas, teach people, make timely decisions, listen to your team and be enthusiastic about the business. These are the actions common to successful business leaders.


Key Element Two – Common Goal. This means that your business’ Vision, Mission and SMART Goals must be shared with everyone in the team. For more details on SMART goals, read our blog 9 Steps to building your business processes and systems. Before anyone signs up to a job, they want to know what they are getting involved with, what you and the business stands for and how you are going to get there. Make sure these common goals are shared with everyone in your team.


Key Element Three – Rules of the Game. When you set up an All-Star basketball team, every player knows the rules, their positions, and what they’re required to do. But when it comes to business, employees and teams are often left in the dark about what they are actually required to do! So take a leaf out of a basketball playbook and define the boundaries and areas of measurable responsibility for your team, so they know their unique and specialised roles.


Key Element Four – Action Plan. Everyone in your team needs an action plan for success. Give each person a title, a written contract and a job description. Explain how others will support them in their role and ensure that they have a clear plan as to how they’ll succeed in their job. For more information on creating Organisation Charts and defining team roles, see our February blog How to engage your team in setting up Business Processes and Procedures.


Key Element Five – Support Risk Taking. If you are not open to some degree of healthy risk taking within your business, it is almost impossible for your team to succeed. Every new product, new way of marketing, new niche or internal business process seems too risky… until it works. To build effective teams in your business, lead by example, and be open to change, calculated risk and new ideas.


Key Element Six – 100 Involvement/Inclusion. Everyone in your team has unique gifts, ideas and different perspectives to bring to the table. Unless you involve your team in decisions, you won’t be utilising the team’s full potential to make decisions, plans and projects or build the company culture.


Working with Business Owners to create successful teams is one of our strengths. There are many smart processes and systems you can put in place to attract the right people that will want to take part in achieving your vision and goals for the business. You can download our free eBook “The 6 Keys to creating a winning team” here.


If you want a Business Coach that can help guide you through this process then please call us on 02 9146 4439 or register here for our 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar