The Art of Culture

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Culture develops in every business, whether the owner intends it or not. Some get lucky and build a great culture, but most often it just happens, not always for the best. Culture is what binds your employees together into a team – good culture fosters a winning team.

I was fortunate to start my career with some great mentors, but I WISH someone had sat me down and talked to me about this BEFORE I started hiring and managing people!

Most owners are so busy at building their business and juggling the competing needs on their time that culture typically gets ignored. In reality, it should be a priority. Let’s be honest, it is so much easier to build culture in a fresh new business, than to try to change culture in an established company. That said, once you understand how cultures develop and how to direct that process, you can significantly uplevel your business’ performance.

Building the right culture in your business is not only a crucial component to building and keeping a great, winning team, but also key to the success of your business. Why? Because even if you have a great business strategy and a good technology/infrastructure strategy, without a winning, sustainable culture your business will fall short of its potential and may even fail.  

The right culture stabilizes your workforce, reduces your operating costs, and increases productivity. What business doesn’t want that advantage??

So how do you build culture? 

  1. Become Aware of The Different Types of Organizational Cultures. Your business culture can be influenced by the type of business, the goals of the company, the leadership styles, and the people who have been hired. Once you are trained to understand, detect and direct cultural norms emerging in your business’ work environment, you begin to take charge of that third element of your company’s strategy: your workforce.

    For instance, a startup with several good friends in the tech world may be much more collaborative and clan-like. On the other hand, traditional bureaucratic business will likely be much more “staid” (think dark suits, head down, murmured quiet voices). The goal of every startup is to become a bigger, more traditional business. Most fail in the transition. Clans are fine when it’s a couple of founders with one or two employees, but when it gets to twenty or more, clan dynamics no longer scale. This is why it is necessary to direct the cultural change for the next phase of the business. Without that conscious channeling of culture, costs increase as inefficiencies creep in through demarcation and lack of natural cooperation in the expanding workforce.

  2. Determine Your Current Culture.  No matter how many employees you currently have, they will likely have each impacted the type of culture that has evolved in your business. Do you have an authoritarian type of culture where you as the owner dictate all activities, or do you have a very hands-off leadership style? Or likely something blended in the middle? 

  3. Assess How That Culture Impacts the Performance Of Your Company. Where does your culture need to reconnect with your mission and your core values? Look at the cultural change you may need to commit to that brings your business needs and team into alignment. 

  4. Build Your Team So They Can Thrive While You Shift Your Culture. As you move to the targeted culture, you must build the mechanisms to sustain that culture for your business.  Bringing in the right people – those who fit both your needs in terms of business deliverables and company culture – is only part of the process. You must have good policies and procedures, mechanisms for feedback, trainings, and other tools to help boost your team. Your key policies & procedures are not only fundamental assets of your business operation they also influence and are influenced by the culture you need within your workforce.

It takes work to get clear on the culture you want to build, lead the establishment of that culture in your business and to monitor, and encourage positive evolution of that culture.

Join me as we explore the topic of culture: types of culture, how to successfully effect movement in, or establishment of, your company’s culture to Uplevel Your Business. As you build a sustainable, winning culture, you also build a sustainable winning business with lower costs and higher productivity that will reach new levels of revenue with higher profit margins. In addition, the right culture enables a business to operate without day to day management attention – even when you take a well-deserved vacation!

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