How Do You Build a Strong Company Culture?

How Do You Build a Strong Company Culture?


Products and services are basically interchangeable. That makes building
and sustaining a strong, vibrant culture one of your most important jobs as a leader. Stay tuned. In this episode of Results Rule! we’ll share
the crash course in building a great company culture. We talked about the specific characteristics
of a great company culture in a previous episode. You’ll find the links to that information
in the description below. So let’s begin this discussion with a definition. Your culture is the habits of your organization
displayed over time. It defines what you truly believe about people
performance, productivity and professionalism. If you want to know your true culture, just
look at the habits in every area of your business. If the habit is that everyone does whatever
it takes to satisfy or even amaze the customer, well, that’s your culture. If the habit is to treat customers as an inconvenience,
unfortunately, that’s your culture, too. This means that the words on your website
or posters or coffee mugs might represent your desired culture, but they aren’t necessarily
the actual culture. Remember Enron, the company that manipulated
the energy markets and then ultimately went out of business because of their shady business
practices? Well, their stated values were Respect, Integrity,
Community, and Excellence. When you think of your culture as your visible
habits, you realize that you can’t not have a culture. The only question is, “Are you making your
culture intentional?” Here’s the high level formula for how culture
develops. Choice – where you place your focus – drives
action. Actions that are repeated and reinforced form
habits. And as we said, your habits define your culture. So let’s break that down into the specifics. The choices about your culture are influenced
by your values, beliefs and assumptions in every area and aspect of your business. We’ve mentioned Southwest Airlines in a previous
episode, so let’s look at them for just a moment. Southwest believes that its customers want
a safe, reliable, cost effective, and fun experience that minimizes all the hassles
that go along with airplane travel today. They assumed that providing those things on
a consistent basis could allow them to be profitable, if they manage their costs. They also believe that hiring great people,
treating them well, and making it possible for them to have a fun experience at work
would help the company achieve its goals by also making Southwest a great place to work. If you look at the Southwest culture, you
see every one of those beliefs, assumptions and values reflected today. Everyone on the crew pitching in to get people
off the airplane, clean it, and board the next group of passengers in 30 minutes or
less is just as much a part of their culture as having fun at work. It’s hard to find a company that doesn’t have
some version of the words, “Our employees are our most important resource” as part
of their values or beliefs. And if building a great culture was just writing
and sharing those words, every company would treat people as assets, not costs. The same goes for quality and service. No one describes their company by saying,
“Hey, do business with us. We’re mediocre at best.” But we all know plenty of companies that should
say that based on their actions and performance. So let’s assume that you’ve made your choices. How do you ensure the actions and create the
habits? Well, the first piece is communicating what’s
important. Most companies post their values on their
website or they put posters on the wall. They are probably covered in the employee
handbook and the new employee orientation. The senior leaders talk about those things
that are important in all their presentations. Unfortunately, that’s where it often stops. Building and sustaining the culture you want
is an everyday responsibility. To build a great culture, every person from
the front line to the senior leader has to know how the choices the company says are
important apply to what they do every day. Chances are that they need to be reminded
of that on a regular basis, or at least more than once or twice during their career. Supervisors and managers then have to reinforce
the performance and behavior that’s consistent with the company’s expectations. Values, assumptions and beliefs must be part
of the decisions about who you hire, who you fire, who gets pay raises, and who’s promoted. The organization has to measure, evaluate
and hold itself accountable. Processes must then be developed to ensure
that everyone is doing things consistently with the desired culture. You might be wondering how long this all takes? Well, the answer is, it depends. I can promise you that it won’t change your
culture if you just simply have a single motivational speaker or send people to a single seminar. There’s nothing wrong with those things, and
they have their place. Truthfully, if all it took was attending a
presentation or reading a book to change our habits, we’d all wake up tomorrow with something
significantly different about ourselves, wouldn’t we? I can also promise that it will most likely
take longer than the 21 to 30 days we’ve been told that it takes to develop new habits. You see, that’s basically a lie. The length of time to develop a new habit
depends on what you’re developing, and how different that is from what people are at
least somewhat inclined to do already. I read that eating dark chocolate was good
for my heart, and it didn’t take 21 days to develop that habit. On the other hand, some really hard habits
can take up to two years to develop. We usually tell people to assume up to two
years to see a sustainable difference in their culture. Although that can vary by the size of your
business, amount of change you’re making, the number of locations, the dedication to
the effort, and the buy in from the leadership. We provided several tools you can download
in the description below. One of the things you’ll find is a list of
the seven basic levers that every leader has at their disposal to create the habits that
define their culture. You’ll also find an assessment you can use
to see how your company is doing at the six choices we found in common with great cultures
that consistently deliver results. That’s it for this episode. Great cultures are designed by intention not
achieved by accident. Next time we’ll talk about how you can be
a more effective leader to help your team deliver even better results. Make sure that you hit the subscribe button
and the bell to never miss an episode of the Results Rule! show. And as always, share this with your friends,
give us a like, and comment with your ideas and questions. Remember, the heroes in every marketplace
are known by their results. See you next time.

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