In the daily hustle of running a business, it’s easy to overlook the importance of company culture. You may even think that compared to making sales quotas, assessing customer satisfaction, and building new business, culture is a pretty low priority... if it’s a priority at all.
But it needs to be one. That’s because culture will ultimately define your team’s job satisfaction and productivity. How are you going to accomplish strong sales without a satisfied (even happy!) team that understands and lives the company mission and is invested in the overall success of the business?
First, let’s define what company culture is. You may think it’s working at that cool WeWork space downtown with a coffee bar and on-site gym. But let’s not confuse culture with perks. Culture is much deeper, and if a prospective employee doesn’t buy into it, you shouldn’t be hiring her. Culture is how you get things done, your company’s level of openness to new ideas, the levity or seriousness of co-worker relations, the will and drive to commit to a mission. It’s a bit like that elusive thing we call “chemistry” in the world of romantic love.
Only it’s really not as elusive as the chemistry of romance. And it’s even possible to track it. Let’s get started:
Make sure there is real communication happening.
Do your employees feel valued? Is the executive team open to their ideas? Is it acceptable for the downline to make suggestions to managers, maybe even the CEO? And conversely, are executive staff forthcoming and honest with employees? If you’re operating a business on a “need to know” basis, chances are communication is weak, and you need to reframe your approach so everyone has a place at the table.
Promote an environment of adaptability.
Now more than ever, the way we do business and interact with customers is in constant flux. New technologies enable us to sell our products and reach our markets in increasingly diverse ways...and ways that are always changing. Add to that the traditional day-to-day challenges of running a business, and it may seem like all you can do (or expect your team to do) is keep eyeballs above the water.
But you know success requires more than treading water. Can your team adapt to all the challenges? Are they flexible and able to keep their cool even when change is afoot? How do they handle introductions of new technologies, innovative ideas, and different ways of approaching problems? Be certain your team is mentally flexible and able to change focus seamlessly in a fast-paced world where businesses have to stay abreast of the latest technologies and trends.
Ensure everyone has the support they need to succeed.
That means your company shouldn’t just be a business serving clients. It should be a community of like-minded people who are willing to go out of their way to serve one another. Nobody should be saying, “That’s not my job.” Instead they should be saying, “How can I help?”
Don’t let your employees live in silos. Make sure they know they’re part of a team and that jockeying for favor, careless of the bigger picture, is not going to win them brownie points. Everyone on your team should be using their skills and talents not just to support the company mission and goals but to support each other.