Title: Building Culture: The Heartbeat of High Performance
Maintaining a strong culture is essential
There’s a moment that stands out for any business leader—a moment of pure satisfaction that eclipses all others. It’s when your team is in sync, working with the rhythm of your business, making decisions that align perfectly with your vision. Their judgment calls, their conduct, everything just fits. This isn’t just a well-oiled machine; it’s the embodiment of high performance, reliability, and consistency. It’s thrilling, and at the core of it all is the culture of your business—the right culture.
Culture by Design or Culture by Default
In the world of business, there’s a crucial choice to be made: culture by design or culture by default. Your business will inevitably have a culture, but the question is, will it be one that forms haphazardly or one that you’ve carefully crafted to drive success?
Today, I want to share with you a few simple yet often overlooked steps to intentionally build the culture that will propel your business forward.
Firstly, determine the culture that your business needs to thrive. Engage your team in this process. While you hold the final say, involving your team ensures buy-in and participation. Whether it’s a round-table discussion with a team of ten or a company-wide survey for larger teams, get everyone involved in defining the culture.
When it comes to culture, many businesses rely on values, which is fine. However, I’ve always found it more practical to focus on observable behaviors rather than values. It’s challenging to assess whether someone’s values align with the company’s, but you can certainly observe and provide feedback on their behavior.
Define clear culture points. You’ll likely end up with half a dozen or so, each accompanied by a sentence that exemplifies that behavior. For example, accountability and ownership are common cultural pillars. But what does integrity look like in action? In my business coaching company, we defined integrity as doing what’s right for the customer, regardless of the cost to us.
Remember, while there are universal cultural aspects, some will uniquely reflect your business and its goals. For instance, as a coaching company, learning was a central element for us. Disney, on the other hand, might emphasize innovation and optimism to reflect their growth and industry dominance aspirations.
Once you’ve articulated your culture, the real work begins—bringing it to life. Yes, display your culture points on the walls, but that’s just the start. Treat cultural alignment as critically as job performance. In my experience, I’ve had to make tough decisions to let go of high performers who consistently failed to align with our culture.
Make your culture a part of your contracts of employment, ensuring new hires understand what they’re signing up for. Discuss your culture regularly in team meetings, use it as a reference in decision-making, and recognize those who exemplify it weekly or through annual awards.
One client of mine, with staff nationwide, even authored a book about their culture, which every new employee receives. It’s about making culture a living, breathing aspect of your business.
The most crucial tip I can offer is this: live your culture. As a leader, you set the tone. Your actions and what you tolerate in others will ultimately shape the culture of your business. Take it seriously, and you will cultivate the culture that drives success.
In the end, your actions define you. Your culture isn’t just a set of ideals; it’s the most potent driver of success. Here’s to building a culture that not only represents who you are but also where you want to go. All the best in your cultural endeavors.
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