The Power of a Great Organizational Culture
In my work as a business consultant I invest a tremendous amount of time and effort providing executive coaching to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners.
It is often a challenge explaining how critically important it is to establish a winning organizational culture for lasting competitive advantage.
The concept of “culture” can seem nebulous, poorly defined, and difficult to quantify from an ROI perspective.
However, culture and the many benefits that organizations receive from creating and maintaining a great culture or competitive advantage in the markets they compete in make it an invaluable asset for those that know how to create one.
Organizations like Microsoft, Apple, Google, LinkedIn all gain tremendous benefit from creating a great organizational culture and winning workplace.
Well, what then is “CULTURE?” Simply stated, culture ids the PERSONALITY of the company.
By becoming known as a great place to work, your company can and will gain many benefits in terms of access to the best employee talent. Not only will the best and brightest employees flock to your front door for a chance to join your workforce, but the brightest stars in your organization will stay with you through the good times and bad.
When you build a winning culture vendors, suppliers, and business partners all will be eager to work with you and your brand (“buzz”) the reputation will make you the organization that your customers will all want to buy from again and again and again. Having a world-class culture gives you built in economies of scale, increases your efficiencies, and delivers lasting competitive all from the act of creating a world-class organization with a winning culture.
SO…HOW DO YOU BUILD A GREAT ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE?
Ask yourself what makes certain companies like Tom’s Shoes, Disney, Marvel, Starbucks, Marriott, Virgin Airlines, Southwest Airlines, etc. GREAT places to work!
The answer is, they ALL build everything they do with their employees best interests at the heart of everything they do, and their customers are a close second.
Here are some best practices that you can implement immediately to build a great culture:
You, your founders/business partners MUST define your own values and beliefs. This is especially critical for entrepreneurs and start-ups just starting out with their new business.
Spend time discussing what you want your legacy to be. What do you want to leave behind when all is said and done as a lasting contribution to the greater good.
Assign someone whose primary (ideally ONLY) responsibility is to maintain your world-class culture. They must be empowered to do everything necessary to keep your culture as a world-class competitive advantage. Create a culture initiative, or list of all the strategic actions required to build and maintain that culture. Set aside budget to fund the creation and maintenance of culture.
Define, articulate a compelling VISION and MISSION statement. Here are working definitions of BOTH provided by Bruce D. Johnson so you can better understand (and articulate) the differences between them:
Your Vision statement explains what you want to be/become.
It’s entirely aspirational. Your vision should inspire the hearts of people who work for you and engage with you.
Ex. Norfolk Southern logistics company: “Be the safest, most customer-focused and most successful transportation company in the world.”
Define what your organization does and does not do, and who you do it for.
Ex. U.S. Tennis Association: “Promote and develop the growth of tennis.”
Mission statements drive everything your organization does. They should be simple, direct, and operative.
List all of the qualities that you want your ideal employees to have. Define the types of people that you want to work with (and don’t) in terms of suppliers, contractors, vendors, and service providers.
Once you define your organizational culture, you MUST communicate it by stating your organizational values everywhere, from your job descriptions, to your website, employee orientation handbook, as well as your social media, press releases, and website.
Treat your employees like your MOST valuable resources.
YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE YOUR SINGLE MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE AND SECRET WEAPON FOR GAINING AND MAINTAINING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.
It is critical that you develop the programs needed to reward, recognize, empower, challenge, train, coach, mentor, and compensate your employees.
A company MUST care about the culture and work very hard to build it and maintain it. The good news is, if you care enough about your culture you WILL have a GREAT place to work!
Leadership sets the tone. your leadership team must embody the spirit of your culture and convey the company’s culture to all they interact with, inside and outside of the organization.
Need help in gaining a clearer understanding of the importance of CULTURE?
Check out this video in which Tony Hsieh of Zappos explains what makes a business a truly great place to work.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach and Business Consultant.
Helping you unleash your full potential and plan, launch, and grow a wildly successful business.