Company culture may seem like a buzz word reserved for white collar organizations, but in reality, each and every single business has a company culture. Culture can be critical to a business’s success, as it impacts everything from employee performance to customer perceptions. Now more than ever, it’s vital for businesses to take stock of their culture and ensure that it’s in line with the organization’s values. Studies have found that companies with performance-enhancing cultures see greater revenue, employment and net income growth than those without.
We asked Michael Shipman, vice president of talent development at Rockland Trust, how business owners can begin to create a culture they can be proud of:
What is culture and why is it important?
It’s important to understand what culture is in order to define and improve it. In a nutshell, culture is types of behaviors that are encouraged and discouraged in a specific group.
How are these established? There are two core facets to every culture: overarching and micro cultures.
“The overarching culture is the big idea of what you do or how you respond to problems. Ask yourself: What do we want to pass down to new employees? At Rockland Trust, we have an overarching relationship culture, meaning that relationships are at the center of what we do,” explained Michael. “This overarching culture is different for each organization. For example, a manufacturer might value a culture of safety. Those in distribution would be well served to have a culture of quality, and those in IT might adopt a culture of knowledge sharing and transparency. The question is what do you value?”
A micro culture is a small subset of the overarching culture and shows that you value the idea behind your overarching culture. For example, you could have micro cultures around diversity, inclusion, coaching or leadership.
Who does your culture impact?
First, a good culture is important for your employees. Having a defined set of norms, behaviors, attitudes and ways of approaching work that tie back to your values helps to ensure the quality of work and create engaged colleagues.
It also affects your customers or clients. Creating a company where employees are engaged and supported enables them to deliver great customer service. On the other hand, if employees are miserable, it’s likely your customers will feel that too.
PRO TIP: Every organization has a culture, whether it is intentionally created or unintentional. Michael strongly suggests sitting down and defining what you want the culture to be before it is defined for you.
How can I define and strengthen my company’s culture?
Because culture is so important, business owners should be intentional in the creation of their organization’s culture.
Every business owner should work through the creation of a culture statement. This should be attainable, but also partly aspirational. It should also align with the culture you want to create. It’s important to be consistent between what you say you want your culture to be and how you achieve it because a disconnect between what you say and what the reality is can create distrust and confusion among employees and your customers.
Michael broke down the steps to creating a culture statement:
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Once you have your ideal culture defined, it’s necessary to take stock of the current climate to determine where there may be inconsistencies.
A useful exercise is to think about what would happen if you asked colleagues or customers about the culture of your organization. It may also be helpful to take a look for cultural artifacts that help clue you into existing cultures. Are these consistent with what you outlined in your culture statement?
This type of planning should not happen in a vacuum. Call a meeting with your leadership team. To prepare for the meeting, ask them to interview a handful of “truth tellers,” or people whose input and opinions they value, to get a sense of where your company is getting it right and where you may be missing the mark. Combining the feedback from these colleagues and the culture statement, brainstorm a plan to bring your current culture in line with your ideal culture.
The bottom line: Intentionally create your company’s culture, or else it will be created for you. A strong culture can make a difference in recruitment and help you retain talented employees. It can also impact customers by promoting positive experiences and helping to develop customer loyalty. Our culture at Rockland Trust is to be a trusted advisor, and that’s why we keep our Learning Center stocked with helpful advice for business owners to enable you to reach your financial goals.
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