Whether you have 50 employees—or you’re the only employee and you have 50 jobs—there’s one thing your company should focus on from day one to be successful, and that’s developing a culture that attracts customers and top-notch talent. An ongoing plan to nurture a positive professional culture is one of the things that will lead to the overall success of your business.
What’s the Big Cultural Deal?
You already have a plan. You had a vision well before you ever believed it would be possible to actually open the doors of your business (whether physically or virtually). But here you are!
As you know, though, business plans are analytical. They and full of strategies, frameworks, toolkits, and a lot of other complicated things that will make your company competitive by the numbers.
But What About the Human Side of Things?
That’s where culture comes in. And that’s where you play a big hand in the direction your business takes regarding how employees and customers feel about your brand. You get to develop your company’s mission and values—which will drive behaviors in every team member from the top down. In the end, you’ll have an energetic and engaged team that’s eager to build customer relationships.
A strong pairing of mission and values—reflected in a vibrant company culture—will serve as a beacon to employees and consumers who believe in those same values.
Defining Company Culture
Your company’s culture is like its personality. If someone were to walk in the doors (or get a bird’s-eye-view of your virtual set-up), would they see happy, thriving employees who are working toward a unified goal? Would they see content teams that are communicating and interacting effectively? Would they get the feeling that people are proud of what they do and excited to be at work? Those are all signs of a thriving company culture.
You know the signs of a culture that’s not thriving. We’ve all seen them. Grumpy team members, confusing processes and poor communication, a feeling of chaos and too much to do, frustration, tension. The list goes on, but the feeling is similar for employees who are in a not-so-great culture. Those in a negative business culture can feel dejected, uninspired, and even lazy. (Insider info: These will not be your highest performers.)
Also, ew. Who wants to work there, where’s life’s a bummer and everyone is frustrated?
(More insider info: The good talent is not working there, and the mediocre talent is working there at reduced capacity.)
Strategy + Culture = The Ultimate Combination
Peter Drucker, author, management consultant, and educator said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What did he mean? You can have the most kickass business strategy on the planet, but if you don’t build a business culture that supports that strategy, you are setting sail in a boat full of holes. You have gaps in your plan. A leak in the roof. A squeak in the door. You get it.
Without a healthy business culture that supports your strategy, you’re missing the corner piece of your puzzle. And everyone knows a puzzle that’s missing a corner piece looks like crap.
Culture is the thing that drives employees to go above and beyond Every. Single. Time.
The Big Q
Is an investment in company culture worth it? Absolutely!
Investment in Company Culture Pays Off
Culture works alongside your business strategy to keep employees engaged and energized. They’ll stick with you longer, be happier, and be the best—and loudest—advocates for your brand, ultimately helping to gain more loyal customers. Here’s what we know about employees, customers, and company culture:
- Employees are loyal to culture. If it comes down to it and culture goes toe-to-toe with strategy, culture will win. When you put your employees first, they’ll reward you with their loyalty.
- A solid culture makes tough times better. A strong culture keeps teams encouraged and focused on company values, even when strategy is working double-time to meet goals.
- Culture can’t be forced. Even when companies go above and beyond, employees can’t be strong-armed into engagement. The good news is that when employees feel like part of a thriving culture, they’ll naturally go out of their way to do great work.
- Culture highlights your brand. If everything else is equal, customers will make decisions based on the vibe they get from a business. Do they feel like people are happy to be there and eager to help them? Consumers notice engaged teams that are delivering excellent service, and they won’t hesitate to tell all their friends!
- Culture helps strategy succeed. Think about Toms shoes. It seems crazy to give away a pair of shoes every time a pair is sold, right? But the idea took off. Why? The simple answer is culture. The Toms brand communicated a need, stated their purpose to help fulfill that need, and enlisted the help of their loyal customers. And after that, everyone who wanted fashionable feet bought in.
- An endangered culture puts businesses at risk. Attitudes are contagious, and a negative culture can take things downhill quickly. Negative employees or teams that aren’t working together to achieve company goals can affect those around them, and customers sense that tension. They’ll shy away from businesses without a positive culture.
- Culture will win in a stand-off. Culture and strategy are better off as friends than enemies. While they work swimmingly together, if pitted against each other, employees and customers will choose the positive culture. So when you’re building your business strategy, be sure to incorporate an ongoing focus on culture.
- A cultural mistake is worse than a strategic mistake. Think how long it takes to build trust, positive communication, and intentional behaviors. Now think how damaging it would be to have something tear that down. Strategies change every day in business; that’s the way things work. Culture is ingrained, long-standing, and hard-won, so be sure to shore it up so it can weather any storm.
- Every business culture is unique. Other businesses can copy your products and services. But know what they can’t get their hands on? The secret behind your business culture. They can’t replicate employee engagement, the pride you’ve built in your brand, the willingness of your team to go above and beyond. You’ve created a culture where everyone plays an important role in bringing the brand to life for customers. Copycats can’t do that.
- Culture is the boss of your bottom line. If nothing else about company culture hit home, this one should because it’s about moolah, scratch, dough, coinage, MONEY. With a thriving business culture, growth potential is limitless. Happy employees will push themselves to new levels, brand recognition ignites, and customers will share their good experiences with acquaintances—further accelerating your growth. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill, but this is a really, really good snowball that continues to expand your bottom line as it grows.
Culture can do all those things. What’s not to love?
Strategy + Culture = Success
A strong business culture begins with the leadership team. The most visible and impactful behaviors can always be seen in the actions of team leaders, so if they’re walking the walk and talking the talk, it will be easier to get everyone else on the same page.
Things will get sticky. And hectic. And confusing, frustrating, exciting, overwhelming, and phenomenal as your business grows. (Some days all at the same time.) Anytime you’re stuck or wondering if a move is right, just ask yourself, “Does this support our company values?” (See how values, mission, culture, all that good stuff can work together to help you solve problems?!)
Culture is the glue that will hold your business together and inspire employees to consistently perform at their highest level. And when they’re performing at their best, you’ll have happier and more loyal customers. It’s simple. Culture feeds your brand. It ensures you have employees who want to keep working where they work, and it builds customer loyalty.
Is it worth it to invest time, energy, and funds into cultivating a positive company culture? You bet your bottom dollar.