This article is the 3rd in a set of 3 that cover the foundation to Small Business Growth
< Article 1 – Your Business Vision
< Article 2 – Your Business Mission Statement
As the owner of your empire, do you realise that your business culture is a reflection of you and your leadership?
The Dictionary defines business culture as:
The predominating attitudes and behaviour that characterise the functioning of a group or organisation.
Even if your firm does not have a business vision and business mission statement, your business does have a business culture, by default! The predominating attitudes and behaviours of you and your managers impact your employees, which impact your customers, which affect the public’s perception of your business, all of which ultimately impacts your bottom line.
Business culture impacts employees
Since the attitude and performance of your employees directly impact the success of your business, I suggest that you seek truthful answers to the following questions:
- Are your employees pleased with where they work or do they view working for your business as drudgery?
- Are your employees afraid to make a decision or to take a risk for fear of punitive consequences, or do they operate with a sense of empowerment?
- Do your employees’ sense that their supervisor (or you as the owner) genuinely wants them to grow and succeed or do they feel used?
Employees impact customers
As consumers, we get a peek into a business culture very quickly. It can start with the first phone call – with how we are greeted. All of us can recall negative experiences, satisfying experiences, and WOW experiences; each of which determines where we spend our hard earned pounds. Which type of experience does your business culture foster?
Customers determine how your company is perceived
Slick attempts at PR cannot offset the current reality of your customer’s experiences. They ultimately vote with their feet, which impacts your bottom line.
What is your business culture goal?
As the firm owner, you can be proactive about the attitudes and behaviours that prevail in your business by distilling in writing your business culture that you want to exist within your business. A written culture statement becomes the third leg of the VMC (Business Vision, Business Mission Statement, and Business Culture) three-legged stool upon which your business operates. A well-formulated written culture statement provides the “Rules of the Game” for your team. It should provide freedom as well as boundaries. Just like a football field, your team has the freedom to move about the entire area, but the moment they step on the sidelines they are “out of bounds”. Call this a loose/tight concept. A culture statement communicates what is acceptable and what is not. It provides values that guide attitude and behaviour. It should provide freedom within boundaries – loose/tight.
Get the team involved
As the owner of your business think about the attitudes, values, and behaviours of the people you desire as employees. Your thoughtfully crafted culture statement will become a valuable tool for attracting those types of people to your company.
How does one begin crafting a business culture statement?
Start by listing your three most important values as the leader of your business. Then assemble your core team (those who are committed to your business vision) and have them list:
- Their three most important values
- What they perceive to be your customer’s three most important values in doing business with you
- The three most important ‘values’ for which you and your team want your business to be known.
This example does not mean that your culture statement should have 12 points. You might find that each has some values in common, or you might find that you want more than 12 points to adequately define the loose/tight culture that you desire. When thinking about the values you want in your business, answer the following:
- What personal characteristics are essential for fulfilling our mission?
- On what should we focus on to be our best?
- What qualities do we desire in those whom we hire?
- What character traits conflict with fulfilling our mission?
To be effective, just as in the case of the business vision and business mission statements, the business culture statement must be consistently well communicated throughout the business environment. Everyone must have the power to hold others accountable with no hierarchal constraints. If the defender runs out of bounds, act on it. As the owner of your business, you have the power and the responsibility to overtly influence the attitudinal and behavioural environment experienced by your employees and customers!