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:
- Leadership (Vision/Mission/Purpose/BHAG/Strategy/Innovation/Change/Communication)
- Great Culture (Values/Beliefs/Gold Standards/Rules of the Game)
- Great People/Great TEAMs (Talent/Culture Fit/Performance)
- Distinguishable USP/Brand Promise/Guarantee
- Lifetime Customer Management Process (From Suspect thru the Life of the Client)
- 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.