Culture: In the Boardroom, the Break Room, and the Bedroom
Culture can be found everywhere and it’s contagious. Some find it at the ballet or museums…others at festivals and events. But we’re not talking about those cultures here. We’re talking about the kind that can help you build your business, attract the right employees, and sell and retain to new customers.
Simply put, as a business owner your beliefs about your business, life, relationships, and society all guide your way of thinking as you form and grow your company.
Just as the way you treat (or mistreat) your partner, kids, or other family members a certain way and that sets the tone in your home, the way you treat your team, colleagues, and customers creates a certain tangible “vibe.”
POOF! You have culture…good, bad or indifferent.
Culture guides diѕсrеtiоnаrу behavior. It starts where the employee handbook stops. Culture guides us in how to respond to customers’ requests and how we respond to our employees ideas. Authentic cultures foster innovation. Entrepreneur even rates small business company cultures.
So, how do you build and sustain a culture for your business?
- Focus on it and make it a priority. On “Undercover Boss,” leaders are often shocked when they find out what their teams are really thinking. If you listen to your team and your customers, you should never be surprised.
- Don’t force it. Culture should be genuine and reflect your belief system. If you have business partners, you all need to be on the same page too.
- Walk the walk. Expecting your employees to stay late, work overtime and be on-call 24/7 may work if you’re doing the same. But if your employees can’t contact you quickly when needed, or they have to lie to a client for you about “an emergency” that came up, you are creating a double standard.
- Apply it to your hiring, development, and firing process. Ask yourself if each team member “fits” into your culture. For example, if you value collaboration and you have a team member who loves to preach and dictate to others, she might not be a great cultural fit. Coach those talented employees whose behaviors and work styles are counter-culture. Don’t be afraid to part ways with those women who are derailing your company’s culture.
Check out Happy Family Brands. It’s one of The 10 Fastest Growing Women-Owned Businesses according to Leaning In. Their culture comes through in their communications. You can’t help but be happy reading their stories, watching their videos, and seeing the smiling pictures of their huge employee “family.” Their culture is natural and it shows. It’s organic, just like their product.
We don’t all have happy or organic brands, but we can learn from other women-owned businesses and how they’ve incorporated their values into their day-to-day work lives.
When you place your focus on culture, you’ll find your guiding principles too. It will start to “feel right”. It’s the glue that makes everything stick.
A company’s culture that embraces its employees’ happiness delivers…lower turnover, more engagement and higher productivity. Employees become your brand ambassadors. Customers stay longer and become brand loyal. Everybody’s happy!