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Culture - Ignore it at your peril

culture Jun 15, 2021

Culture - it’s not fluffy stuff

You may be thinking this culture stuff is all soft and fluffy, and I don’t blame you for thinking that. But take a look at the companies who have a great culture and see their success, their happy employees and profits, and maybe you will rethink your opinion.

Perhaps you think that culture is something you don’t want to introduce in your business. If that’s the case, I’ve got news for you. Every company already has a culture, but is it the culture that you want? Every business has a way of doing things that has developed over time. I’m talking about the way people are recruited, managed, communicated to or rewarded; how decisions are made and how employees are developed. For many companies nothing is defined.

Everyone does their own thing. There is no structure, employees do their job the way they want to and go home. You may be annoyed at how employees do things or the way they treat customers. That is your culture.

The good news is that you can define the culture of your company.

  • Is the current culture helping you reach your business goals?
  • Will the current culture support your growth plans?
  • Does your current culture have a purpose beyond making a profit?

As you employ more people you will see your culture start to drift. It’s critical to maintain a strong culture for growth. Business owners who are really serious about their business growth realise the importance of having the right culture.

Culture is as important, if not more important, than your business strategy. Why? Because culture underpins everything you are trying to achieve in your business. Culture is the core of your business and it must be strong. Everyone knows what happens when you don’t have strong foundations. Your business will become weak and start to crumble.  

How culture impacts your business

The majority of business owners or leaders fail to understand how culture drives the performance of the business. Culture is reflected in many ways. These are just some of the ways culture impacts your business:

  • How strong the shared values of the business are
  • How far employees display the behaviours that support the values
  • How employees treat each other
  • How customers are treated
  • How employees are recruited
  • The way you communicate with each other
  • The speed at which decisions are made
  • Whether you become an employer of choice
  • Whether the right customers are attracted to you
  • How widely your brand becomes known
  • How far everyone is working towards the same goal

Employee engagement

 A great culture creates employees who are engaged. Employees who are engaged make a positive impact on performance, which increases revenue and profit.

Some evidence on how culture and performance are connected comes from Queen’s University Centre for Business Venturing. Using data from employee engagement surveys and company results over a ten-year period it discovered the following for companies that had an engaged culture:

  • 26% less employee turnover
  • 10% more unsolicited employment applications
  • 20% less absenteeism
  • 15% greater employee productivity
  • 30% greater customer satisfaction levels

A good culture creates a great place to work. As the business owner and leader it’s up to you to create the culture of your organisation, but you can’t do this on your own. You need your team around you to support you and to give their ideas on what it means to work for your business.

Now I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that creating a culture is easy, because it’s not. It’s hard. It takes commitment, dedication and focus. If you are serious about your business and are looking for growth then you need to devote time and energy to creating the culture of your organisation.

Many business owners put off developing their company culture. Why? Because it’s an ongoing process.  You don’t just come up with a purpose and some values, tell everyone the values and expect it to happen and that’s culture ticked off the list. That’s the sort of business I worked in when I was an employee many years ago. There was a purpose and vision for the business, with values displayed on the wall. But no one lived those values so they didn’t mean anything to anyone. The exercise had been completed, and they spent thousands of pounds designing posters to put everywhere, but it was a joke because the leaders didn’t live the values.

Many business owners do exactly the same and then wonder why the culture fails. It’s because they don’t put in the time and effort needed and don’t understand the importance of embedding a culture. If you want to be like the majority of business owners who struggle with staff turnover, have problems with performance with everyone pulling in different directions, then crack on.

If you want your business to achieve success, if you’re looking to scale or exit, then culture needs to be your priority. Culture is key to business growth. You cannot afford to get left behind.

Click here to discover your workplace culture score. 

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