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 has 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 and corresponding leadership 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 aspirational 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 these – whether it is bad, good, or exceptional. However, I am often surprised how many businesses are unable to accurately speak to this point. Taking an honest assessment of your existing state is a challenging, yet highly beneficial exercise. It also serves as a starting point for determining next steps and what type of adjustments need to occur.
Culture Ranks Bigger Thank You Think
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 ethos that will be an important factor in retaining them long term.
An interesting revelation from a study conducted by Deloitte 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 this philosophy first and prioritize it as a means for organizing business are rare. If your company is not talking about this often, it’s time to start.
Collaboration Creates Opportunities
Encouraging collaboration 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.
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 person’s overall customer experience will either lead them toward you or away from you.
Consider how a client or prospective applicant views your company online. What about when they walk through the front door? How does your outside sales team engage in the larger marketplace? The importance of having employees who understand the true value of a company’s culture cannot be overstated – they are your true brand ambassadors.
Leadership Makes the Difference
Culture is often developed from the bottom up but only if it’s encouraged and supported in the right ways. 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 environment. You can make this your own. There are no single defined set of rules. Just remember, if those at the top of your organizational chart are serious about change and achieving first-class work with excellence and integrity, your culture will reflect that.
Surrounding yourself with a great team that embraces a focused, thoughtful way of doing business 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.