When we think about wildly successful companies like Apple, Google, Ritz Carlton, Zappos and Wegmans, we think of excellence year after year.
While these companies do a lot of things well, I’d argue that their biggest assets are their unique corporate cultures.
As a consultant, I have spent lots of time helping clients shape and build their company cultures. The culture your company creates affects everything that you do and how you do it.
Here are six tips and ideas to help you build your organizational culture.
- Craft a mission and vision statement.
The foundation of your organizational performance should be your company’s mission and vision statement. This is a written statement that outlines what you believe in (mission) and where you are headed (vision).
Bring together a cross-functional team to create these essential documents. This will increase the likelihood that the rest of the company will buy in and support it.
- Communicate it.
Once you have developed a clear mission and vision, it’s critically important to have a communication plan to roll it out to everyone. You can do this through group meetings, one-on-one calls and in email communications.
- Develop behavioral standards.
Next, you must develop behavioral standards that describe how the mission and vision will be executed on in terms of behavior. If part of the mission is to be a world-class service provider, then how does that play out in terms of how your team interacts with a customer in person and on the phone? How about by email?
Many people assume team members know how to behave, but the reality is they don’t. The only way to get consistency is through written behavioral standards. The standards must be either observable, tangible or measurable.
For example, you could say: We’ll greet every customer with a smile and a hello (observable). Or you could say: This is what our final product looks like when it is done to our standard (tangible). You could also say: We will answer the phone by the third ring (measurable).
I advise my clients to create a behavioral standards committee to develop the standards. Why? Aside from getting better buy-in, you also get better ideas from people who are on the front lines every day, and they are the people who know what is really happening.
- Implement behavioral standards training.
Once the standards are in writing, everyone needs to be trained in the new expectations. The companies I mentioned at the beginning of this article obsessively train staff on their standards. It’s how they deliver.
- Create rewards and consequences.
If you have behavioral standards, then I hope people will follow them. But the reality is that you have to reinforce behavioral standards by rewarding people when they meet and exceed them, and by letting people know there are consequences for not meeting them. When people get rewarded for meeting or exceeding behavior standards, the news travels fast.
- Conduct performance reviews.
If you have annual performance reviews, change them to include the mission, vision and behavioral standards. If they are not included in the annual review, then after one review cycle, all your hard work will fade away. People only pay attention to what gets measured and evaluated.
The bottom line is that you create the culture. It is up to you to build it, foster it, support it and live it. When you do, you’ll have true excellence, and you will get great results.