Author: Shankar Meembat, The Alternative Board Milton Keynes
Today I’d just like to talk to you a little bit about company culture, and how culture can add value to your business.
What is company culture?
A Company Culture is the company’s shared vision and values. For small business, especially owner operated businesses, the company’s culture pretty much reflects the owner’s own vision and values. As an example, here are The Alternative Board’s cultural visions and values.
Why is company culture important?
Having a defined company culture is important to the company’s success because it provides a consistent way of working and a way of satisfying customers right across the company.
How can leaders shape culture?
Maintaining the company culture as it grows, is not just about defining the vision and values, it’s also about communicating them to your staff and living the company culture itself.
So how can you use culture to the advantage of your business?
If you’re a business leader looking for a solution of how to use company culture as an advantage to your business, here are five steps or the ‘five R’s’ on how to do this.
First, make sure you have a good representation of your culture.
Think about your best employees. What are their best traits? How have they behaved?
What is common between those groups of employees?
As you go through it, you’ll possibly start coming up with words and phrases that will make up your company ‘values’. Review them to see if they truly represent the culture that you envision.
Next, it’s about Revealing this culture.. Then, to your customers, your suppliers, and very importantly to your own staff.
Use stories about why each of those culture statements came about, and examples of how you or some of the staff have lived the culture leading to great results.
The next R stands for Reinforce
That’s about making sure that you make sure the culture is being integrated throughout the business. Lead by example, but also make sure that the culture is visible. At meetings, pick up an example of how the culture is actually implemented.
Next is Recruit.
Recruiting the right people, for the type of person they are. Ensure that you are effectively hiring and that in the recruitment process the culture, the vision, the values, are out front.
Ask for examples as to what those would mean to the candidate and how they would look to implement them. You want to build a culture for recruitment.
Remember it is so much easier to find the right person for the culture and add functional knowledge to them, than the other way round.
And lastly, Reevaluate.
Getting advantage from a company culture is not a one-time effort, it’s not about just defining and communicating, but it’s also about making sure that you check its implementation time and time again.
When I work with small businesses as a TAB Business Coach, I often do an exercise where I get the business owner to define what the culture is, and the employees to do that separately. And believe me, they don’t match most of the time.
So, it’s important to make those checks on regular intervals, and take corrective actions when needed.
To summarise, in order to ensure that culture can be used as a tool for success, be sure to use the 5 R’s:
Representation – make sure that the culture statements that you use represent the best of your people.
Reveal – take care about how you communicate the culture to your stakeholders, the staff, the suppliers, the customers and so on.
Reinforce. Walk the talk. Practice what you preach.
Recruit – make sure that you hire for the culture, not try to build the culture afterwards.
Reevaluate – Finally, continuously Reevaluate your company culture and consistently assess if it is being used effectively for your business growth and success.