Okay, let me ask you a couple of questions. Is the culture of your business clearly defined? Can you summarize it in one paragraph? If not, why not?
Often times, when I ask the “culture” question I will hear something like… “My business is too small to have a culture.” Oh really? Well, I can guarantee you that the team members of your business know about the culture they work in, and usually it is a direct reflection of the owner. Now, isn’t that interesting!
Every business has a culture, and yet it may not be clearly defined or readily evident at first glance. And what about the team, how are they affected by the culture?
Recently, I spoke at a national conference regarding the relationship between the culture and the human resources side of a franchise business. Culture and team go hand in hand. To begin with, as the owner of your business, it is important to clearly define and then communicate your culture to your team and eventually to your customers. Here are some points to get you started:
- Failure: Does your culture allow your people to fail? The only failure in life is when you choose to not participate. As Yoda said, “do or do not, there is no try.” So do you allow your people try or to participate? Do you allow them to make decisions and give them the opportunity to fail and learn? You may want to start with small decisions in a controlled environment to begin to give your team this learning experience.
- I Know Attitude: How does your culture deal with people who have an “I Know” attitude? This alone can have a negative impact on your team and your business if you don’t have an effective way of dealing with this attitude. It’s not just a teenager thing, adults sport this attitude as well and in the workplace it does not promote open learning and growth. You will find this attitude not only with some of your team, but with a few of your customers as well.
- Fun: Do people have fun working in your business? Is it part of your culture? Fun offers many benefits including improved learning, higher efficiencies, teamwork and better buy-in from your people. You may have a “Fun Patrol” or you can do fun social activities both on and off the job; any number of fun things can improve your business culture.
- Winning Team: By understanding the elements required to build a winning team you can improve the quality of your culture. Those elements include strong leadership, common goals, rules of the game, action plans, supporting risk taking (by the owner) and 100% involvement (by the team members).
- Communication: This is the “glue” that brings all of these things points together. When communicating your culture make sure to include your vision and the mission of your business; this is essential for both your team and your customers. Open, honest, clear and consistent communication is critical in building a great culture.
Does your culture include similar points? Is your culture defined? Is it written down? Is it posted on the wall in a prominent place? Does everyone within your business follow your culture? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these, then I suggest you set aside time to get clarity on defining your culture.
Begin by asking yourself a few questions… Am I passionate and committed to changing the culture in my business? Am I motivated to change the status quo? Am I willing to take the lead to define and improve my business culture?
As the owner of your business, to be more effective, you need to involve others in this process, brainstorm with them and really dig into what it is you want your culture to reflect. Your culture should be a reflection of you, the owner.
So, is your culture a big deal? You bet! Once you clearly define your culture you will reap the benefits with a happier and more successful team and your customers will enjoy the benefits of a great culture as well.
Note about the author: David Drewelow is a master franchisor and business coach with ActionCOACH, the leading global business and executive coaching firm that helps business and franchise owners with business basics.