Improve Business Culture Five Ways – No Bean Bags Needed
Your first question might be – ‘why should I improve business culture?’
Many business owners view culture as a bit fluffy, something that suits the Googles and the Apples of this world, but isn’t really for them. Visions of ping pong tables, bean bags and chill out rooms pop into heads when you start talking about culture in the workplace.
Promoting a great culture in your business need not involve a single bean bag.
Creating a positive culture helps support the growth of your business in many ways. Firstly, it helps you attract the best talent and retain people in a very competitive marketplace. Secondly, it gives you clear boundaries on expectations around behaviour, attitude and outlook for the business, ensuring people you bring on board are aligned to your wider vision. Thirdly, it gives you a competitive edge. You may not realise it, but the most loyal clients and customers are buying from you because they like and identify with your culture.
In other words, having a great culture adds significant value to your business. You keep the best people and the best clients. We all know how much it costs to replace good people and good clients, so investing in your culture is well worth the effort.
Here are the five ways to improve the culture in your business;
Take time to identify the purpose and vision of your business. Where are you going, what’s the big north star dream? Give people something to engage with on an emotional level and really believe in.
Identify the core values of your business. This goes way beyond sticking words on a wall or getting them printed on a mouse mat. This is about identifying the glue that holds everything and everyone together. Stick to three or at the most, four values as no one can remember any more than that. Avoid the obvious ones such as ‘integrity’ as that should be a given. This is about what your business does that none of your competitors do.
Once you’ve identified your core values, make sure you are clear about what they mean. The word ‘innovative’ could mean different things to different people, so be precise about what this means to your business. It could be something like ‘we disrupt the status quo’ or ‘we are bold in our design’ etc.
Identify the behaviours associated with the values. It’s no use at all having well thought through values with clear meanings and then everyone goes off behaving the way they’ve always behaved. Focus on identifying the behaviours you want to promote and attract in your business. Let’s take the example of ‘innovative’ and the meaning associated with it ‘we disrupt the status quo’. This will result in a set of behaviours that might include, ‘we listen to all ideas’ ‘we respect and celebrate difference’ and ‘we actively encourage exploration and curiosity’.
You can imagine these working in high tech, design or creative environment. These probably aren’t going to work in a law firm or accountancy practise where compliance is important.
Create systems and procedures that support the purpose, vision and values. Make sure your appraisals, your recruitment, your induction and your bonus systems support the encouragement of the values and behaviours you’ve identified. Make sure you engage with suppliers and clients and customers who share your values (they won’t be identical, but once you’ve established yours, you’ll know what will work and what won’t work). Let go of suppliers and clients who cut across your values – these are the relationships that probably aren’t working anyway.
Improve Business Culture Using These Steps
Recruit on the basis of culture first, skill second. You can always train people in skills, it’s much harder to train people in behaviours and attitudes.
Repeat again and again.
You cannot emphasise your culture enough. It must go through everything like the proverbial stick of rock. It’s your business DNA.
Get this right and you will see your business flourish.
Tricres have worked with dozens of companies on how to improve business culture. We’ve seen them increase their sales, attract better talent, retain great people, improve their profits and grow beyond their expectations, simply by paying attention to this crucial area of their business.
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