What kind of company do you want to be?
What words do you want describing your reputation?
How do you want your staff to feel by working for you?
In the work I do and conversations I have with smaller business owners, I am finding that little thought is given to these questions. In fact, sometimes zero thought is given. While it doesn’t shock me, it does worry and sadden me, and that’s where my mission comes in. I’m here to educate small business owners on something they don’t know much about and explain why it’s a huge contributing factor to their personal and business success, both now and in the future.
Yes, I’m all about building business owners knowledge of business culture and helping them define, design, lead and live it.
While most good small businesses have a business plan, a marketing plan, a financial plan and work towards achieving a great mission, one factor is commonly and blatantly missing – the culture plan. Without that missing gem of a focus, you are effectively cutting off the blood supply to the heart of your business; you and your people. In business-speak, this means you’re not running a sustainable business.
Culture is ‘the way things get done’ around your business, as the culture gurus Deal & Kennedy said back in the early 1980s. I explain it as ‘how you work together to achieve a common goal (or goals)’. I emphasise the ‘how’ because culture is all about how we think, feel and behave at work. It permeates out to influence working practices, policies, customer service, rituals, who you hire, even the interior design of your office and the type of social or charitable events you organise at work. In fact, an organisation’s culture is a bit like water … it seeps everywhere. Think about anything with your business and culture will be associated with and influenced by it.
Culture forms from the moment a company is born. If you don’t define it, it will be defined for you.
Given this fact, I want to help smart, forward-thinking companies be intentional about designing their culture from an early stage so that they can live and lead it and reap the benefits of a healthy workplace. It is a bit like a diet (having just used the word healthy). If you think about your desired personal health … then about the diet, exercise and mindset you need to support that desired state, you can work intentionally and actively towards that state. Of course you can still exist even if you haven’t defined and worked towards that best version of you, but you won’t thrive, you won’t realise your true potential, or be as happy, energetic and resilient as you could be. Swap the diet analogy with culture and I hope you get my point.
Culture, in my opinion, is THE cornerstone of business success.
You can have the best strategy or mission, or passionate, well-intentioned owner, but without a great culture designed to meet your business needs, you won’t get far without a whole lot of angst. Positive workplace culture is known to boost productivity, wellbeing, staff retention, reputation, customer service, profitability, creativity, collaboration, decision-making … I could go on. And if you’re not intentional about shaping your desired culture and acting in a way that upholds and supports it, then (like a number of my clients who pull me in to help them) you will likely face conflict, mistrust, inefficiencies, absenteeism, toxicity or high staff turnover. Not paying attention to your culture is costly. VERY costly. Not to mention the hidden cost it could have on your reputation or the impact on yours and your staff’s wellbeing, confidence and happiness.
And THIS is the reason I am so passionate about helping others understand WHY the culture within their business is so important and why it should be classed as a priority.
I believe every employee wants to bring their best self to work.
I also believe they deserve to work in a great workplace to realise their potential and feel happy and supported. I know enough business owners now who believe in a better way of working – both for themselves and their people. Yes, of course, the money and mission are incredibly important, but building a company culture with integrity, humanness and care is something stand-out-special and one that will set them apart from their competitors.
In future blogs (and maybe even a book!) I’ll share how you can intentionally design your company culture. Of course, if you can’t wait or don’t want the DIY, unsupported approach and would prefer some expert help to create an incredible workplace culture I’m only an email or phonecall away.