Company culture is the essence of the company. It defines who the company is and how successful they will be in the end. The difference between humdrum culture and incredible culture is the difference between just making it across the line and taking the blue ribbon.
Begin with Principles:
Establish your core values. For example, integrity, authenticity, self-awareness, positive energy, kindness, empathy, and service.
Establish your mission statement – the summation of your company’s vision. A great mission statement defines a company’s goals pertaining to the owner, the employees, and the customers in 30 seconds or less. Be specific and concise. Use buzzwords, of course, but be real, rather than generic.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:
Communicate your core values and your mission statement to your staff. When employees understand the purpose, the goals, and the roadmap, they connect to the process.
Live your core values. Make them personal. Be so authentic in upholding your core values and basing company decisions upon them that a new employee can come into a company and define the core values and mission statement by simply observing the actions of the owners and upper management.
Build two-way communication. When employees believe their input matters and don’t fear reprisal, they remain involved and innovative.
Communicate project strategy, information, changes in direction, etc. When employees understand what is happening, they connect to the project and each other. When they are more connected, great culture happens.
Camaraderie, respect, and trust among owners, managers, and employees are essential components to building a winning company culture. Employees who feel trusted and respected are more willing to take reasonable risks that generate project success and growth strategy.
Camaraderie begins at the top. Get out of your office. Spend time in the lunchroom and on the floor. Be accessible.
Build camaraderie by knowing your employees. Create a company newsletter or put an employee bulletin board on your website. Share employee news – from human-interest stories about their accomplishments outside of work, to charitable actions, to situations where the company and fellow employees can pitch in and help. For example, when employee’s home burnt down, the company held an in-house fundraiser to help the employee with immediate expenses.
Food is an amazing unifier. When employees are working on a project, provide the occasional carryout. Camaraderie builds over mealtime where employees relax and share personal time. Furthermore, talk will invariably turn to the project on hand and those seemingly unsurmountable glitches are often solved in the lunchroom.
Put people first. Motivate by joy, rather than fear, and show appreciation for their commitment, efforts, and successes. Problems need to be dealt with and mistakes pointed out so change can happen, but healthy relationships result when the ration of positive to negative comments are at least five to one. Employees who feel valued and appreciated do their best work, are more productive, stay longer, and have more positive attitudes. This naturally generates the kind of culture, which successful companies are built upon.
The best way to build great customer service is to build great company culture by extending great “employee service” Employees who are treated right will, in turn treat your customers well. Offer competitive pay and benefits; include perks like flexible work times or work-from-home options; and provide opportunities for employees to grow professionally through additional training, seminars, etc.
Recognize your strongest links – those employees who actively support your values, and do the work. Specifically and personally acknowledge their actions and reward accordingly. From handwritten thank you notes to extra vacation days, employees who feel valued and appreciated respond with positive attitudes and increased overall productivity.
Hire, and Fire, Effectively:
Pay attention when interviewing candidates for open positions. Obviously, you need people who have the necessary education, experience, and skills, but that’s not enough. Look for people who share your vision and principles. Ask hypothetical questions to see how they will respond to real situations. Ask questions about their work outside the office. Check out their social media presence. All of this will give you a broader and clearer perspective of the whole person.
Ok, sometimes we make mistakes in hiring or people change. Bad attitude, nasty gossip, and toxic complaining can destroy culture far faster than the time it took to build. When you have this situation, talk to the employee. See if you can get to the root of the issue and inspire change, but if you can’t, it is time to say goodbye.
Communicating company principles, building camaraderie, and showing appreciation are essential to a winning company culture. Contact Springborn, in Portland and Bangor, Maine and hire the right people to support your culture.