Develop a Meaningful Culture
By Emily Huling, CIC, CMC
Take a minute and consider your office environment. Whether you’ve worked three years, ten years, or more than twenty, count how many workplace changes have taken place over that time. Technology advancements are too varied and numerous to mention. In addition, we now have four generations working together; each has differing attitudes, ideas, and business routines. The locations where we work have expanded. Most employees check work-related e-mail from home or work in any number of remote locations. Our knowledge has become specialized, generalized, or somewhere in between. With so much variation in who we are, where we work, and how we work, businesses are constantly challenged on how to create and maintain a consistent corporate culture that each person understands, embraces and — most important — practices. Here are some ideas that will help businesses get associates on the same page.
Create a company mantra. Forget the long, complex mission statement. Instead, think of words that capture the essence of your business and how you want others to perceive you. Here are a few examples of mantras created by my clients. We have ESP; Excellence Service Professionalism. Reflect the IMAGE; Initiative, Motivation, Accountability Generate Excellence. Make MAGIC; My Actions Generate Incredible Customer Service. Take PRIDE; Professionalism, Respect, Initiative Drive Excellence. Have small groups of employees brainstorm ideas of who you are and what you represent. In no time, you;ll have several mantras from which to choose.
Adhere to best practices of performance. Flexibility and individuality are treasured by today’s workers. But don’t let personal preferences interfere with demonstrating high standards of professionalism in your company. No matter what a job entails, where it’s being executed, or by what experience level employee, specific standards should be uniform throughout an organization. Examples of these practices include changing your outgoing voice mail message daily and dating it, using a complete e-mail signature on all out-of-office correspondence, professional appearance norms, and keeping your desk and work area organized and clutter free.
These tipping points; the little things that make the big difference; are the fundamentals that solidify and strengthen your corporate culture. Whether you call these ideals your constitution, principles, or best practices, all associates should be held accountable for carrying them out.
Focus on your customers. Don’t become consumed with what you can’t do or what your competition does. Your existing customers have chosen to do business with you. Use them as a resource to tell you what you’re doing right and advise you on what you can improve, add, or change. Survey customers in person, use written surveys or employ the help of a consultant to facilitate focus groups. Information from your own customers is the most meaningful you’ll find.
Let employees be your advertising. Can all of your associates explain what you do and why in sixty seconds? Do all of your employees have business cards and company logo apparel? When employees are trusted with promoting their company, accountability grows. Proud employees are the best public relations you can have.
Constantly recruit top-notch people. Good people attract good people. All associates should be on the watch to find candidates who are potential matches for your culture, standards, and work environment. Having a waiting list of those who want to work for your company is a great position to be in.
Partner only with firms that mirror your culture. We become who we spend time with; for good or bad. Customers, carriers, vendors, and your centers of influence should have the same integrity, professionalism and service standards that you do. Asking your employees to adhere to high standards and then compromising those expectations with your partners will undermine the culture you’ve created. Do business with those who reflect your values.
People want to work for a great company. It’s management’s responsibility to build and sustain a meaningful culture where individuals can be their best. When that happens, both the business and the people will grow and prosper. Isn’t that what business is all about?
Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Fax: 888-309-7355