By Bridget McCrea
In this 3-part series, tED Magazine explores the value of creating a corporate culture where people want to spend 8+ hours a day, how to go about developing this type of culture, and the strides that NAED members are making in this area.
Want to make your company an employer of choice for great workers? Start by implementing these eight tips for creating an excellent corporate culture.
In the first article in this tED magazine series, you learned about the value of a strong corporate culture and about the challenges that companies face in their attempt to create excellent cultures. The good news is that there are some tried-and-tested steps you can take to develop a distributorship culture that helps attract, retain, and nurture both employees and customers. Here are eight of them:
- Get a handle on your company values first. Avoid the shotgun approach to culture creation by taking stock of your distributorship’s values before attempting to develop an excellent culture. “If you don’t understand your firm’s values, you won’t be able to convey them to your employees – nor can you expect them to embrace those values,” says Amanda Shore, a human resources expert with Herd Wisdom in Montreal. “When employees understand and relate to those values, they’ll want to contribute to them and use them on a daily basis.”
- Don’t overlook these six key attributes. In Building a winning culture, Bain & Company highlights six key attributes of winning corporate cultures as: High aspirations and a desire to win (for employees in high-performance cultures, good is never good enough); external focus (focus energies externally on delighting customers, beating competitors and caring for communities); a “think like owners” attitude (where employees take personal responsibility for overall business performance); bias to action (cultivate doers, not talkers); teamwork (create an environment where teamwork, being open to other people’s ideas, and collaborative debate are encouraged); and – last but not least – passion and energy (is everyone giving 110 percent?).
- Embed culture in everything your company does. Corporate culture is an organizational initiative that goes beyond just offering competitive compensation packages and paid days off. It needs to be literally embodied in your employees’ behaviors and actions as it relates both to daily work and client interactions. “If you say you have a company where customer service is the primary value,” Shore points out, “then make sure that everybody in the company understands it, and that all the employees make it their priority.”
- Get your leadership team involved in the effort. Get your supervisors, managers, and company leaders involved in the process of developing, honing, and/or revamping your corporate culture. By getting everyone involved, you’ll wind up with a leadership team that will rally around a common vision and required behaviors (rather than rebel against them). “Getting your key people involved is a must,” says Lori Bruhns, a productivity trainer and mentor in Hillsborough, N.C. “Skip this step and it won’t be long before everyone is going off in different directions, with no cohesive view or vision.”
- Integrate your culture right into your recruitment efforts. Don’t wait until your new hires are onboard and in place before introducing them to your corporate culture. Introduce your company’s key goals, values, mission, and standards right out of the gate to ensure that your potential candidate is indeed a good fit for your distributorship. “One of the biggest mistakes companies make when recruiting and retaining is not being clear on the culture of their company,” says Bruhns. “Having a clear idea of what the company’s values and beliefs are is crucial to picking long lasting employees. There is something to be said about like minds working together.”
- Ask your employees what they need from the culture. Turn to your team of dependable, loyal workers for input on how to shape a great corporate culture. Ask them about their own needs and how well they align with the current setup at your firm, and/or how those policies or approaches can better meet your employees’ needs. “Some people are perfectly fine with working 9am to 5pm daily, but others may want more flexible arrangements to accommodate their lifestyles,” says Shore. “When you factor these elements into your culture, you’re showing your team that you really care about them – and not just the company’s bottom line.”
- Test out a few new employee engagement techniques. Defined as the emotional commitment the employee has to the distributorship and its overall goals, employee engagement is a key component of any effective corporate culture strategy. “Look for new ways to get your employees engaged in the success of the business,” Shore recommends, “realizing that just because someone comes to work on a 9-5 basis, Monday through Friday, doesn’t mean they’re enthusiastic about doing that.” One great way to engage employees is by recognizing employees that go above and beyond the call of duty to service a customer, land a sale, or attract a new client. Decide what behaviors you want your employees to demonstrate and what types of rewards you will give, says Shore, and then encourage management to praise employees who demonstrate desired behavior and reward them with one of the specified rewards. “Make sure you thank or otherwise acknowledge them for their willingness to go above and beyond,” says Shore. “When other employees see that level of recognition, the enthusiasm and engagement will spread.”
- Use modern tools to gauge employee feedback and sentiment. The old fashioned way of polling employees has given way to a few new options that you’ll want to try out as you develop your corporate culture. For example, Shore recommends using regular “pulse surveys” to find out how your employees feel about company policies, provisions, management, and so forth. “Do this on a regular basis to see whether things have changed for the better once you’ve started implementing employee engagement efforts,” says Shore. Once you’ve gathered the pertinent information, use it to create a plan of action for tackling the issues that your employees have identified. “Encourage your employees to be engaged by catering to what motivates them to do their best work,” Shore adds.
In the final article in this series, we’ll talk to several NAED members about how they approach the issue of corporate culture, what’s working for them, and any changes or tweaks they’re planning for the future.
McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.
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