I happened to bump into a longtime friend at a networking event just the other day where we had a quick chat on how our respective businesses were faring. He informed me that his was doing fine, its operations were running smoothly, he had a great team to work with, he sort of had everything you possibly could wish for in a successful business. However, he still had a major concern to address: his employees, despite doing their jobs well, were not showing the desired level of commitment to uphold the values and mission of his business. Put simply, they seemed not to understand the importance of his company culture. His is not an isolated case.
Let’s face it. Implementing a business culture is without doubt one of the most difficult tasks any business owner can complete. The process entails getting people to believe in what you do (or say) and having them change their behaviors to align themselves to that. Thankfully, once you have your culture in place, maintaining it is quite easy.
1) Always... and I mean Always Instill Your Firm's Culture in Your Employees
(It's not my way, it's the 92 West way; we all benefit from believing in the core mission and practices of the company.)
Just like any other form of learning, repetition matters when it comes to teaching your employees about that which your company stands for and the behaviors you’d like them to adopt. So, keep emphasizing these values all the time you’re with them even when you think they’re already conversant with them.
2) Never Bend Your Rules
More often than not, you’ll get into situations whereby you’re left considering whether to make cultural exceptions for the “convenience” of your business. However, here is the caveat: once you compromise some of your beliefs, reverting to the norm becomes quite difficult for you. In fact, it becomes harder to reinforce any of the lost value and behavior when there’s a contradictory precedent that others can reference to in future. For this reason, try to stick to your outlined business guidelines at all time.
3) Mind Your Workforce
This is probably a no-brainer but the team you choose to work with will in most cases determine how effectively your company culture is implemented. As such, it’s important for you to hire people that show a commitment to promote and uphold your set guidelines. So, no matter how talented or hardworking an employee is, if he/she is not ready to follow these guidelines, then they are better off gone.
4) Pick Your Brand Stewards
Choose a few of your employees who you think do command respect from others and who also respect your company culture. Leverage their positions and influence to help infuse your company values to the rest in your company. This method works best in smaller businesses where communication is more direct and bureaucratic layers are fewer.
In another life I was an Advertising Coordinator for AAA. We had an amazing team and I learned a great deal from my peers, but I think the largest impact that was made was that your brand is made or broken at every point of contact. Certainly going beyond the logo and into how people dress... answer the phone... e-mail's.... document creation.... customer interaction... the list is endless, but it all goes into the perception of the brand. If you build a culture that your employee's love and follow it will show in their work and in their day-to-day interactions with other decision makers. If your employee's love you. Your client's / customers will have a much easier job doing so.
That's a Wrap!
If you are keen on running a successful business, you will agree with me that some of the soft aspects discussed in this post are just as critical as the hard aspects. This is why you need to give them the level of attention they deserve. Of course, building a company culture won’t come easy, but the effort placed towards the cause will be well worth it in the end.
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