Creating a company culture is the No. 1 way to build or destroy a business. This is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution. An authentic culture creates and enforces a long-lasting, impressionable brand. I challenge you to make space and time in your organization for conscious culture creation.
How do we get buy-in from our teams to follow our treatment processes and treat each customer as their top priority, all day, every day? At ABC, we give our team strength to do this by creating a culture based on core values, partnership, and like-minded intentions. Let’s break that down a little bit.
FORM, THEN FOLLOW, YOUR VALUES
First, focus on your why, to help you define core values for your company. These core values are the basis for all future decision-making and culture creation. The phrase “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” is true in building a successful business. When guidelines are not followed regarding hiring or firing by core values, we erode culture from the inside out.
At the height of the busy season, we have all tolerated team members who were clearly out of line with our core values. Customers must be served; phones must be answered — and those checked boxes can blind us to the imperceptible, but detrimental impact.
I have learned this lesson the hard way. It’s not good to keep a key employee with a negative attitude and/or a questionable work ethic. But when we’re in this situation, we must let him or her go, despite it being a hard decision — especially when we truly like the person. When the relationship finally is terminated, it’s shocking to feel the entire company breathe a sigh of relief. Too often, I realize that if I had paid attention to our core values, I would have dismissed this person long before. There is a hard, but necessary balance in staying human in business, yet sticking to your guns in culture and expectations.
EVERYONE PLAYS A ROLE IN SUCCESS
Each and every employee has an impact on the success of a business and its ultimate growth. Each and every employee is responsible for culture. At ABC, “slow to hire and quick to fire” is a sign of respect to all employees who dedicate their time, hearts and energy to serving our customers. Our teams are watching even when we don’t realize it. Their attitude and performance are affected by our actions — and our inaction, as the case may be.
As I wrote this article, I thought of my dad’s impact on his business and our family. He provided a thriving company culture before “culture” was a buzzword. He set the example to adhere to rules. If my brothers or I stepped outside of the rules, we knew there would be consequences.
As a middle child, I felt it was my obligation to test these boundaries. These tests always resulted in repercussions for my actions. Yet I am a better businessman, husband and father for this consistent expectation. Dad’s leadership taught me that the erosion of any culture occurs when we tolerate those who step outside of the core values or boundaries.
Business is no different. Defining who we are and why we do what we do every day is integral to business success. Having a team or “family” buy into what is important, and live by those creeds every day, is invaluable.
Our team relies on us to provide a stable and ethical workplace. Teamwork, values and culture cannot be bought or easily replicated. People thrive in this type of environment. When our people thrive, they have the ability to provide a greater level of service. This, in turn, translates to happy, loyal and lifelong customers. A better culture both sustains and creates growth.
JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Bobby and Dennis, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Houston, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.