At our recent Round Table discussions, business leaders converged to explore the multifaceted world of cultivating a culture that not only draws in exceptional talent but also keeps them firmly rooted within the company’s mission and vision. What emerged were powerful insights and practical strategies that illuminate the path to building a vibrant and enduring corporate culture.
One Round Table member said, “Owners need to have clarity about what their brand is, what their market is, what their culture is, and what their heart believes beyond what is written. I call it naming it. Calling it out. This is specifically who we are and how we behave in this organization.” Then use every powerful tool to communicate your brand, but realize culture shapes around what employees see, more than what they just hear. Be an example.”
Core Values – Culture – Behaviors
One business leader in our small group said, “It’s foundational, the vision, mission, and purpose. When the core values are functioning well in an organization, there are identifiable behaviors associated with those core values. If we say a core value is diligence, what does that look like? What are the behaviors associated with that? In our organization, we do core values shout-outs in our morning huddles and people can talk about a behavior they saw and how it relates to a core value.”
Ongoing Process to Maintain Culture
There are parallels in how you establish and maintain a culture in your family and your business. It’s an ongoing process. In your family, you establish going to church and a culture of listening, learning, and trying to do better. You make a lot of mistakes along the way. It is not any different in a business. We are all going to make mistakes, even as a leader. How do you create an environment where it is open enough that people can point it out? Can an employee say, this person is not being treated right? We must have an open culture where others can point out that that is not the way we do things. That’s off track. The leader needs it almost as much as the rest of the organization.
Are you Creating your Competition?
If you look at major corporations that have a direct competitor, a lot of times you can trace the history back, and the first company created the competitor by how they treated an employee. Lamborghini exists as a supercar manufacturer as a direct result of how someone was treated at Ferrari. Pepsi exists because of a similar situation with the Coke Corporation. If you treat the most capable person in your organization wrong, you might be creating your competitor. By not treating others well you may be creating your competition.
If you have a good employee, if you have a good leader and you nurture them wrong, they are not going to lead for you.
It Starts at the Top
One business owner notes that if the leaders at the top are not aligned with the culture, differences filter down. If we settle for, “I see it this way and you see it that way.” The differences will grow. The same thing happens in a family or a business.
Culture follows the leader. The type of culture you have is the type of leader you are. You can do improvement strategies, but if the leader is a go-getter, the organization will be a go-getter. If the leader is stressed, that is going to permeate throughout the rest of the organization.
Strong Culture – Practical Suggestions from our Round Tables
Attract/select the RIGHT Talent
- We produced a video explaining our core values. At the end, we make the statement “If this kind of company appeals to you, apply by …”
- In the interview process, we ask situational questions in which the applicant shares how they would respond.
- Also in the interview process, measure their values by asking open-ended questions that lead them to share their feelings and opinions.
Training leaders in your organization to create and maintain a strong culture
- We conduct a culture survey every week in which each employee evaluates the company’s compliance with its stated culture.
- We look for opportunities to celebrate employees who embody our culture in specific actions.
- We create accountability structures and procedures.
- Employees have regular opportunities to evaluate leaders regarding the culture, and the leaders are responsible for reporting on their implementation/response to employee feedback.
CBRT Exists for Business Leaders
One Round Table member noted, “A lot of times the person at the top is on an island and they don’t want to talk about certain subjects, like saying meeting payroll is going to be tough this month.” Do you have a person on your team whom you can confide in?
This is the reason a lot of business leaders are isolated. They are fearful of exposing weaknesses to their people and/or contemporaries. The fact is a person who rises and has a company with employees, has stressors and experiences that employees do not.
“I have questions and nowhere to go. This is what is happening, this is what is keeping me up at night. This is where I am fearful. This is where the enemy is getting in.” This is why we exist at CBRT!
Please mark your calendar for our Grand Rapids Breakfast Social with Tim Hiller, owner of Chick-fil-A in Walker on Friday, September 15 at the Grand Rapids University Club.
Join us on October 20, for our Kalamazoo Breakfast Social featuring Steve Cummings, of SPC Consulting at the Kalamazoo Country Club.