What is culture to a business? If you’re in a position of leadership you’ve certainly heard the word, you probably even have a pretty comprehensive understanding of what the term means.
Culture is not wearing jeans and a t-shirt to work. It’s not beanbag chairs. It’s not nap time It’s not a free hour on Facebook every day. But all of these elements can come into play in a culture.
Culture is how you run your business. It’s the summation of your business’ practices and values. It’s the sense of community that flows through your organization. For every company, culture has to be different, because every business is different.
Why does a business need a culture? Can’t a business just be culture-less? A rogue?
The short answer: No. Every business has a culture. Just sometimes they aren’t very good.
Your goals, your vision, your customer service strategies, your dress code, your interdepartmental communications, these are all part of your culture. Ignoring any one of these things can be detrimental to your business.
A Whole New Culture
So, when is it time to update, change or even entirely revolutionize your culture?
You should begin to reconsider you culture when:
- Your communication system is ineffective
- Your customer service strategy is noticeably underdeveloped or not working
- Your employees are confused about your company goals
- Your business is stagnating/moving backwards
- Your employees appear disgruntled, or are leaving
- Your policies are outdated and ineffectual
Any of these could be warning signs that your company’s culture is not working for your employees or your customer.
It should be fairly obvious to you, the leader, that your business requires a new cultural direction. Sales will be down, communications will be confused, collaboration will be virtually non-existent, and your customers will be unimpressed or unengaged with your brand.
What Works? What Doesn’t?
Once you’ve decided your business culture needs a reboot, consider what kind of culture you want to have.
Not every company is a Google. The Google culture, therefore, won’t work for everyone. If your business is a button down, conservative insurance bureau then hiring a bouncy castle, tearing down walls, and pumping in techno music won’t work for you, your employees, or your customers.
It’s important to know who your business is, and what you hope to achieve. Your goal, however, cannot be money. Money is an end. It’s a byproduct of your success.
It’s also important to know what your employees and your customers are looking for.
Creating a culture is about aligning goals. The perfect culture will align the goals of your customer, the goals of your employees, and your goals as well. Find out these goals, and do your best to align them.
The best way to find these goals is to encourage open, unfettered communications. Welcome collaboration. It’s the first step to a better culture, and a better business.
Things To Consider When Creating A Culture:
- Your Hiring Process: First, hire for passion and commitment. Hire people who will work with the culture you’re aiming to develop. Second, hire for experience. Consider not just how relevant their experience is, but what kind of potential it shows. Look at volunteer work, extra curricular activities etc. You’re looking for a well-rounded person.
- Values: Define your values. Articulate them. Do your best to record them. Then, find out what your customer values. This can be done through strategically placed customer interviews. Find the common ground.
- Encourage Learning: Your employees need to continue exploring skills, techniques, programs, and technologies that will make them more valuable, both in your office and outside it.
- Build Collaboration: Has your business built up walls (physical or metaphorical) between people? Between departments? Collaboration is critical to innovation, as well as trust building, and a successful company culture. Consider looking into collaboration software programs that will open communication, and allow ideas to flow.
- Reconsider Your Customers: While your reworking your culture, reconsider your customer service strategy. Work to redefine the relationship you have with your customers. Embrace collaboration. It will revolutionize how you do business.