Business mentor tip # 87 – Why company culture is critical to the success of your business

company cultureI’m working with a number of small businesses at the moment.  All are committed to growth and as such are bringing on new staff members to ensure this growth can happen.  All have accepted that as owners they must let go of certain aspects of their business to allow them to focus on the really important stuff – business development, new business, structure, strategy, vision and… the word so many small business owners forget about… culture.

There’s one question I’m asking all my clients at the moment: what’s the culture you are inviting people to join?

What would be your answer if I asked you the same question?  Have you given it some serious thought?  You should do – because your culture is CRITICAL to the successful growth of your business.

What do I mean by culture?

Your culture is the world you bring people into; the world that will ultimately influence how they behave.  I assume that, as the business owner, you want a highly motivated, fully committed and productive team working alongside you.   As the leader of this team, your job is to ensure they know what is expected of them and to provide an environment in which they can thrive.

Your culture is made up of 4 key components:

  • Vision
  • Values
  • Rituals
  • Attitude/personality

Vision:  What is your business doing that means more than just making money?  What are you aiming for and how will this make a difference to your industry, community, country or the world?  People want to be part of something, they want to be inspired and feel they are contributing.  Your job as leader is to paint this picture for them.  Give them a vision they can believe in.

Values:  What do you really stand for, and how is this reflected in your business?  A company’s values usually stem from those of its founder.  Just think about Apple for a moment.  Steve Job’s personal vision was to ‘put a ding in the Universe’.  His pioneering spirit impacted directly on the values of his company. Now take a look at the Apple Values as outlined in the Apple employee handbook 1993:

Who wouldn’t want to work for a company like this?  So what are your values and how can share them with your team?

Rituals:  These are the glue that binds your team together.  The things your company does regularly that people can always expect.  These include the regular meetings you have, the celebrations, the rewards and prizes your team might strive for.  At my advertising agency we met at 8.30am every Monday morning for Work In Progress.  The agency always supplied muffins.  On Fridays at 5pm we stopped to celebrate a team win for the week. The agency supplied drinks and nibbles.  On a team members birthday we organised a cake for morning break. Staff members were day off – to be taken in the month of their birthday.  When someone left there was always a gift and leaving drinks.  Every year we went off site for a planning day, with accommodation and a big dinner for all the team.  These things always happened, and the team knew they could rely on them.  Our rituals defined our team experience together.  What are your rituals?

Attitude/personality: What kind of company are you? And what attitude would you like to see from your team?  Think about these questions and how they apply to your business.  Are you a creative company, do you want your team to come to you with new ideas? Are you willing to hear those ideas?  Is your business a fun place to work?  Or is it very serious?  Does your company inspire people with the vision and life up to its values?

There is a Sicilian saying: “the fish rots from the head down”.  Which means, in the context of this article, that the leader sets the tone for the rest of the team.  If you are serious, hard working, focused and driven…you’ll probably create a culture around your own personality type.  If you are young, a bit crazy and full of mischief… this will probably reflect in the type of culture you create.  If you are stressed and worried all the time, this too will probably impact on the happiness of your team and find its way unwittingly into your culture.

With leadership comes great responsibility.  Creating a culture where people learn, grow, thrive and flourish.  This is as important as developing new products, or creating a clever marketing campaign.

Look after the culture.  The results will show you the value.

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 Your Business.  Click here to be notified of launch date

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