Monday, June 18, 2012

What Are The Key Factors Of A Strong Business Culture?

To build a strong culture you need a short, sharp core purpose. A core purpose is the reason an organization exists. It’s a brief statement that anyone can read and think “yep, got it. I know exactly what they’re up to”. The less words the better.

The power of a core purpose can be breathtaking. For example, the core purpose of Zappos (the most famous culture on the planet right now) is "delivering happiness". They exist to deliver happiness to as many people as they possibly can. Simple. Similarly, the core purpose of Facebook is to "make the world more open and transparent". Like it or not, with over 800 million users sharing photos, videos, ideas and updates, every day the world is more open and transparent thanks to Facebook.

To be a bit more specific ... and offer a recommended template for small businesses to follow ... here's a list to give you a start toward a strong culture of your own:

1. Everyone at all levels understands and "owns" the mission statement. this isn't taken for granted (that they know). It is measured.

2. Core Values are determined together (not autocratically) and the behaviors that create them are identified.....then measured annually by anonymous employee surveys.

3. Employees are rewarded and promoted for performance not personality nor politics.

4. Performance reviews are given at least annually and yet good communication all along results in there being no surprises at that time.

5. Teamwork and Collaboration are valued as much as independent success and competitiveness are valued.

6. There is no different set of rules for executives vs. entry level employees. Executives are held to the modeling the values.

7. Communication about the company's progress, vision, issues is provided often to all levels and employee's are invited to be part of any problem solving.

8. Employee ideas are valued.

9. Employees are treated like adults and not children.

10. Successes are public!

Not a complete list by any means, but a start.

Finally, eat, sleep and breath the culture yourself all day/everyday and publically recognize & praise employees when they behave in a manner consistant with the culture.