How to Analyze Your Company Culture
Establishing the right company culture will help create customers. Business expert Paul Boucherle explains how.
Company is the ‘business topic du jour’ as evidenced by the plethora of articles and conference presentations on the topic these days — offering many opinions and suggestions. Company culture is simply your 10 Commandments that are your way of life/business that can attract the right customers and people to your company value system.
Company culture empowers, enables and expects people to act with a bias toward an action that will exceed customer expectations, without asking for permission. So what is your business culture?
Is it reality or simply words on a wall? We ask clients to describe their culture. When they struggle with this, or worse, have different views of what it is, there is trouble in the kingdom. Vanilla is good as ice cream, but terrible for defining your uniqueness as a company. How will that flavor compute with new talent or customers you wish to recruit or win?
Words don’t often translate to observable actions through the new eyes looking at your company. Did my first impression help me recognize how your culture makes you different? There are consequences both positive and negative. Make sure yours are positive! How can you tell if this scenario is true for your company?
Company culture is not what you want to believe it to be. It is what your customers and even suppliers believe it to be. Like true leadership, it is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it in action. If this sounds too “fluffy” I can ensure you it is not. Here is a three-step process to take your business culture temperature:
- Start with understanding what ownership/management thinks their core values and culture are today; then ask yourself clarifying questions to make sure you understand the intent vs. perhaps the “ground truth” of cultural reality.
- Next, ask the employees to see if everyone is on the same page.
- Lastly, ask your customers why they do business with your company.
This is where the rubber hits the road, so expect some skid marks! How do we as experienced security industry business consultants do this in our work?
We begin by establishing communication ground rules that help break down trust barriers. We get into the trenches with the people who must deliver that culture, and interview them to see if the values and culture concepts match their daily reality of delivering sales, installations, service and support.
We ask the simple question, “What is your company culture?” Then compare their responses. There is often a gap between the words and daily actions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions while the elevator to heaven is communication. Why is this often the case?
Company culture and core values get re-translated by the realities of delivering department goals by managers who want to meet company expectations of fast/profitable/right solutions, which may conflict with the company’s culture. So the big question is, “Do departmental goals, leadership and compensation align with the cultural big picture?”
Often the answer is … not quite. Having performance measurements that do not align between departments can lead to conflict between sales and operational delivery, and this drives customer experiences.
Departments and people will act in their own best interest. It’s human nature. However, human nature can be selfish or generous based on the individual and commitment to a team effort.
Management must be mindful of what their big picture culture vision should ultimately deliver. If this sounds really complex, try a simple approach that has served us well for many years.
Establish your “touchstone” company vision message to cut through departmental squabbling. Bickering results in wasted management time spent on refereeing disagreements. Simply stated, a “touchstone” is a question we should all ask ourselves to move to a higher ground of discussion such as, “How will this action/decision affect our customer, and more importantly how will this affect what they discern about our company?”
Will individual actions, whether sales, installation or service, result in a customer actively referring our brand to a peer? If not, time to pull out the mirror and take a look at yourself — you may not be the “fairest in the land.”
There are, of course, many challenges you will encounter going down this path. However, the journey and destination are worth the bumpy road. I will address some of the challenges and possible solutions in November, so stay tuned!
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