There are five simple steps to help create the right culture for your business.
Ever walked into a business or retail operation and thought wow, I really like the feel of this place, what a great vibe, I feel really comfortable in this environment.
The question you should ask is why you feel the way you do and whether the business has created a feeling, culture or experience by design or by default?
A strong business culture can be a crucial strategy in establishing and growing a successful business. It contributes to attracting the right staff, staff retention, customer loyalty and, therefore, higher profits.
Many of the greatest businesses have spent millions working on and perfecting their internal business culture. They understand it is the internal culture of the organisation that will make it strong. It will also set the tone for all interactions that occur between the organisation and its customers.
Apple did not accidently develop the relaxed approach to customer interaction and the numerous break-out areas within their offices.
The culture of the organisation is its marketing point of difference or its unique selling point (USP) and many organisations around the world have attempted to develop their own version of this culture.
It is too easy to lose sight of the importance of creating your own distinct culture, by letting your business simply evolve day by day as you work on other seemingly more pressing aspects, but it is an element that should be planned for and not neglected.
There is a need for a simple process to identify the difference between the culture you have now and the culture you want to create, and identify how to move from one to the other.
You may have never really given any attention to it but rest assured, if you run a business it does have a culture – intentional or otherwise.
If your culture was created by default then the values of the most vocal or strong personalities in your team will tend to be dominant. This may be a good thing but it is always best to check.
• Step 1: Find out the culture of your business.
The easiest way to do this is to ask your staff to anonymously give three words they feel describe the culture of your business. This exercise can be very revealing in itself.
• Step 2: Analyse the results and see how close they are to your vision of the culture of your business.
Remember the culture of the business will be the outward-facing experience that your customers will get when they deal with your business.
• Step 3: Analyse the results as they relate to your staff.
Is there a prevailing view among the staff? Does your vision match that of your team? Do they have a clear idea what the business culture is? And, if so, is this the culture you wish to nurture.
• Step 4: Identify the culture you want.
Take time out to write your own key words that will identify the new culture. Use your staff to give input and a sense of ownership to this process as this will help to reinforce the message.
• Step 5: Implement your new business culture.
Encourage and support any necessary changes at work with your staff and enable them to build the culture you want through regular training sessions and meetings. When you recruit new staff make sure they understand your values before they become part of the team, so you begin to build from the ground up.
The culture of the business is not just a set of policies and procedures supported by a couple of training sessions. It is the way that all staff must interact each day with their peers and customers alike.
It has taken companies like Apple years of hard work to create a culture that appears to require "no work".
This is also something that requires true leadership, even more than strong management. As the owner you must live, breathe and portray the culture you want in everything you do and with everyone you deal with.
How you dress, how you talk and certainly in the way you interact with your staff and customers alike are important.
Remember that these steps may take time and effort, but evidence shows that a high-growth business with a supportive culture will grow faster for longer than a business that does not have one.