The intangible benefits of working for an organization with a strong, positive culture are obvious.
It’s hard to put a price-tag on some of the aspects of strong company culture.
People want to work there and tend to stay longer. And companies with strong cultures often make it onto “Top 100” and other lists of great places to work. People go there knowing that great things are happening and that they want to be a part of them.
The tangible benefits of strong culture are apparent too. A 2018 study by Chief Executive found that companies with leaders invested in positive company culture and positive cultural transformation outperformed others in revenue growth by an impressive 36%! So by ignoring company culture, or assuming it will take care of itself, you could be leaving money on the table.
Customer Service Is a Primary Example
Have you ever dealt with a customer service agent at a company that was struggling? A company where the fight for survival meant putting company culture on a back burner? If so, you probably didn’t have the greatest customer service experience.
By contrast, have you ever dealt with customer service in a company where culture was a priority, and where strong culture carried through to every employee, including those on the front lines dealing with customer issues? If so, you probably had a much better customer service experience.
Company culture, whether tended carefully or left to its own devices, permeates the company. It’s not reasonable to expect that a place with poor leadership and a negative company culture will somehow have a customer service department that delivers outstanding services.
Great Culture Feeds Agility
Agility is essential in today’s business world. Everything moves at lightning speed, and there’s more opportunity for startups to displace stodgier, less nimble competitors, even if those competitors have a strong size advantage.
Agility depends upon assessing reality and then reacting to it in ways that meet customer needs better. That’s nearly impossible in a company where “culture” is nothing more than a holdover from days when “how we’ve always done it” worked. The world will move ahead whether company culture does so or not. And the companies that invest in culture that makes sense for today’s business world and today’s employees are the ones that will benefit most.
Agility means responding to client needs faster, with greater understanding.
What to Strive For
Awareness of company culture – what it is and what it ought to be – is a starting point, but it isn’t enough. Companies that are serious about cultural transformation must deliberately set the stage for change. Sometimes this requires leadership changes, and often it requires executive coaching to prepare top leadership for change.
Companies must recognize what’s good about their existing company culture, showcase that, and build upon it. But few company cultures are ideal. Therefore, it’s often necessary to review organizational structures, power, and decision-making to determine if they still work well, or if they need to be revised.
Talking to employees at all levels is also critical for building a strong culture. Turnover at the entry level, or at lower organizational levels might be tolerable, but it still represents a cost. Finding out what motivates employees and what discourages them is necessary for building the best company culture.
Finally, the importance of listening to employees cannot be overstated. Most employees want to do their work, be fairly compensated for it, and feel valued. They’re not looking for excuses to complain. So when employees do bring problems to the attention of those higher up, it’s incumbent upon leaders to really listen. Not every little thing can be changed for every employee, but listening clues leadership in on potential trends, or underlying problems that need to be resolved before they affect the bottom line.
One of the most important reasons businesses invest in executive coaching is to help build a better company culture. Simply letting company culture “develop” as it will be profoundly dangerous, because it allows poor processes and poor attitudes to set in, making them harder to tackle once the problems become systemic.
Cultural transformation isn’t just a “feel-good” exercise to convince leaders that the frontline workforce is contented. It’s a business imperative that ensures strong business practices, and the tangible benefits that result from them. If cultural transformation is a priority to your company in 2019, I invite you to learn more about my corporate culture services.