When we think about great companies, like Apple, Google, Ritz Carlton, Zappos and Wegmans, they are all recognized as being excellence in terms of results and performance. I would argue that they all do many things very well- but one of the biggest aspects of their success is simply this: company culture. They have all worked hard to build and foster their own unique culture. As a consultant, I have spent time with many clients helping them shape and build their company cultures. I believe if you want to be successful you have to build a culture, because the culture you create impacts everything that you do and how you do it. Here are some tips and ideas to help you build your organizational culture.
- Mission and Vision statement. I think the foundation of your organization should be creating a mission and vision statement. This is a written statement that outlines your mission as an organization, and what it is you believe in (the mission) and where it is you are headed (the vision). When you create this essential document make sure it is not just developed by you and a few leaders of the company. Bring together a cross functional team to create them- that way when you roll it out, they will buy in and you will get support, because it was what they created.
- Communicate it. Once you have developed a clear Mission and Vision- it is critically important to have a communication plan to roll it out to everyone. You can do this through group meetings, one on one meetings and in email communications.
- Behavioral Standards. Once you have a clear mission and vision, then comes the next vital step- which is to develop behavioral standards that describe how the mission and vision will be executed on in terms of behavior. If one of the parts of the mission is “to be a world class service provider”- then how does this play out in terms of how your team interacts with 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 also be either 1) observable 2) tangible or 3) measurable. For example, we can say: “We will always greet every customer with a smile and a hello.” (observable) or “This is what our final product looks like when it is to our standard” (tangible) or “ 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 form people that are on the front lines every day, they know what is really happening.
- Behavioral Standards Training. Once the standards are in writing then everyone needs to be trained in the new expectations. The companies I mentioned at the beginning of this article train obsessively and constantly on their standards.
- Reward and Consequences. If you have behavioral standards, then we hope people will do them, but I am sorry the reality is we have to reinforce them by rewarding people for meeting or exceeding them, and we have to let people know there are negative consequences for not meeting them. When people get rewarded for meeting or exceeding the standards news travels fast.
- Performance Review. If you have annual performance reviews then you need to change them to include the mission and vision, and the behavioral standards. If they are not included in the annual review, then after one review cycle, all your hard work will fade way.
The bottom line is you as a leader create the culture; it is up to you to build it, foster it, support it and live it. When you do you will have true excellence and you will get great results.