One of the most important lessons I have learned in owning and running companies is that there is nothing more important than maintaining a vibrant culture. Take the maxim that’s been circulating in the business world for decades: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Certainly, a competitive compensation structure, added benefits, and advancement opportunities all come into play. However, to successfully compete in today’s extraordinarily fast paced environment, a business needs to be far more involving than ever before. This means analyzing and challenging the ways you conduct business regularly.
Wherever your culture may be today, provided are some critical thoughts to keep in mind for any business, regardless of size, location or industry:
Defining Your Existing Culture
Merriam-Webster defines culture as the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.
Every company has a culture – whether it is bad, good or exceptional. I am often surprised how many businesses are unable to speak accurately to this point. Taking an honest assessment and defining your existing culture is a challenging, yet highly beneficial exercise. It also serves as a starting point for determining next steps and what type of adjustments may need to occur.
Culture Matters to Talented Professionals
Talented professionals will always have their pick of the most desirable companies. However, your culture can be the compelling difference that win’s them over. It is also that same culture that will be an important factor in retaining them long term.
An interesting revelation from a study conducted by Deloitte recently shows that over 90% of employees value accomplishment, culture, and autonomy over money as motivation. In other words, compensation only gets you so far if people don’t like where and who they work for.
Surprisingly, companies that put culture first and prioritize it as a means for organizing the business are rare despite the influence it has on success. If your company is not talking about this often, it’s time to start.
Collaboration Creates Opportunities
Encouraging collaboration across a company and teams is crucial to not only building but maintaining a robust, high energy culture. Companies must be more mindful than ever that there is a need for a team based, client centric, value driven organization where information and ideas are shared.
There is no room for prima donnas. A company cannot be channeled toward common goals when a few individuals believe that their priorities are more important than the greater good. While everyone should be given an opportunity to have their voice heard, eventually negative personalities must be removed to achieve meaningful change in the work environment.
The Aura of Your Brand
Focus and attention to detail support the quality of a brand. Its human nature to tend to forget their importance and cut corners. A persons experience with you will either lead them toward you or away from you, and has a direct impact on your culture.
This extends well beyond the inside of an office and everyone plays an instrumental role. Consider how a client or prospective applicant views your company when they walk through the front door or phones are answered. What about the way your outside sales team engages competitors?
Great people have a different outlook and it is apparent in everything they do. Having employees who understand the true value of a company’s culture brings tremendous value – they are your true brand ambassadors.
Leadership Makes the Difference
At the root of every business culture is the leadership. Culture is often developed from bottom up but only if leadership allows it.
Visionary leadership provides motivation and goals, framing an organization’s purpose in broader terms. Most importantly, it motivates people to work together toward achieving it. I have seen companies that perfectly blend a variety of different work styles and energy types to create a unique and positive culture.
If leadership is serious about achieving first-class work with excellence and integrity – your culture will reflect that.
Surrounding yourself with a great team that embraces a focused, thoughtful culture doesn’t happen by chance. It requires conscious choices in the selection and development of team members.
To achieve successful, lasting changes in your culture you will need to find a way to convert today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities. Recognition that action must be taken is the first step. Through making better choices, you can achieve extraordinary results – and your team, both current and future will be grateful.