It’s always about the people. I have yet to run into a company that consists of a bunch of processes that are run automatically by robots. It’s people that make the world go around, and it’s people who make companies extraordinary, and who give a brandb it’s cachet. Don’t misunderstand, I’m a big fan of process and automation, but I believe that culture and having the right people on the team trumps all else, and it isn’t even close. I believe you can mess up almost everything else, but you recruit, hire, train, motivate, and manage your people well, and you’ll probably still generate results. People are THAT important to our success.
So, how does a person go about building a culture in their organization? First, you need to begin to think ahead. You cannot wait for opportunities and problems to arrive before you decide to deal with them. You need to anticipate them and deal with them while they’re manageable. Realize that no company can succeed for long if the founder or leader at the top is controlling everything. Job one is to begin to build a leadership team. This leadership team must be guided by the Values that led to the Vision for your organization, and the Mission that you’ve articulated to your customers and associates. Your team must be built upon trust, and they need to be encouraged to dialog with one another in constructive conflict to arrive at the best solutions together. The team must enjoy working with one another, identify with one another, and embrace the challenge of being accountable to one another. You must teach this cohesive leadership team to skillfully delegate work and to trust one another, and their departmental teams, as they develop strong future capabilities within the ranks.
Second, everyone in the organization needs to be consistently clear about where they’re headed and how they can contribute to the organization arriving at the right outcomes. Don’t leave a thing to chance. Ensure that everyone is clear about your values, your vision, your mission, this quarter’s key business objectives, this year’s strategy, and most importantly, their role in supporting all of the above, day in and day out. If every member of the team understands their purpose when they work, and how to prioritize their activity their behavior and actions are guided as if by a GPS. Keep the messages consistent and simple. There is no need to over-complicate the organization’s purpose and priorities, simplicity will drive consistent clarity about expectations. Stick to the big picture and ensure that every member of the team understands the “one thing” that we’re most focused on this year. Doing so ensure that they can prioritize daily everything that they work on and keep track of what they’re doing and how it relates to what everyone else is working on. Cohesion across the organization is a good thing.
Next, you must be relentless in talking about what you’re after. We know that advertising only works when it is repeatedly applied and after dozens of exposures, people begin to completely comprehend your message and retain the information, so it begins to help them focus on next steps. You must also ensure that everyone on the leadership team and every leader of every project is likewise comfortable reinforcing the mantra until it cascades downward through your organization, filling all the right pools of confusion with clarity about our purpose.
Finally, you need to manage your organization in ways that contribute to setting the right goals, eliminating “chaos, confusion, and incongruence”, and support the company’s most important objectives. This is best done by managing the company’s operations by expecting performance and results in everything that is done. Be crystal clear about expectations, and measurements that will help us to identify when we have delivered expected results, and when we have fallen short. Your organization needs to embrace performance management as the only way to ensure that our values and vision are matched by performance. In a large number of companies, performance management is a charade, and annual reviews are arbitrary or capricious, and are considered a joke by the staff. Don’t make that mistake in your company, invest aggressively in putting a world-leading performance management structure in place, and you will quickly see your culture flourish. If you want the organization to become a better realization of your vision, you must lead by setting expectations well, and create a culture of consistent business-like behavior and execution. It’s not easy, but it is certainly possible, and the benefits are well worth the effort. Ensure that one to one meetings are regularly held and are substantive. Ensure that Meetings of all kinds are relevant, and oriented toward solving problems and positioning future success. Ensure that Quarterly Performance Reviews and a rigorous Individual Performance Review program drive appropriate business behavior and reward the best behavior while correcting inappropriate results and behavior through coaching and development. In the rare cases, when behavior doesn’t match expectations, take action. Give your teammates every opportunity to improve and do not hesitate to remove an associate who cannot or will not follow the norms of behavior or deliver results.
Remember, it’s always about the people. You need to build a team of great leaders, who will build a great team of followers who will bond together. Together they’ll drive results that serve your customers better than your competition could ever dream. Build the kind of culture that would attract you to your organization and you’ll be pleased with the results for many years to come. It’s not easy, but when it happens, the results are astonishing. A great culture will ensure that you attract great associates, great customers, great partners, a healthy organization and consistent extraordinary business results. Enjoy the journey!
Michael is a business advisor and coach in the Twin Cities who works with companies small and medium alike to build a great culture, develop strong leadership teams, and to deliver ambitious results. Tell us about your thoughts, how is the culture at your company? Do you have an easy time of building your leadership team and your culture or are you struggling? What are you struggling with? If you’d like to learn more about what Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting could do for your growing business, send an email to email@example.com. Michael will send you a free Best Practices document that will help you chart a course to a great business culture for your business!