Patsy Feeman, Senior Associate at New Legends Now
Scott Judkins, CEO of PayTrace
Andy LaFrazia, CEO of ControlTek
Leb Tannenbaum, CEO of New Legends Now
Business Growth MAP Alliance, June 21, 2017
Every company has a culture. For small business owners, company culture is often unintentional, mainly because they don’t understand what it is or how to create one that reflects their vision. But being deliberate about implementing a company culture can mean the difference between success and failure.
So what is company culture? In short, “It’s the way we do things around here.”
Attendees at the June MAP Alliance forum heard a panel discussion about the importance of creating a company culture. The panel was made up of industry professionals Patsy Feeman, Senior Associate and Leb Tannenbaum, CEO, both at New Legends Now; Scott Judkins, CEO of PayTrace; and Andy LaFrazia, CEO of ControlTek. They discussed how a company’s culture can create a positive workplace, happier employees and greater productivity.
Company culture is the personality of the company. It helps set expectations for employees and often contributes to the company’s reputation among customers. Developing a strong company culture is vital to growth.
To build and maintain the culture you want, the panel recommended five key strategies:
1. Identify your company’s core values.
“When a company isn’t succeeding, it’s usually because the culture isn’t matching up with the values,” said Feeman. “This makes it impossible to take your business to the next level.” Feeman suggested identifying three words that describe your current company culture. Whether good or bad, those words will tell you what you’re doing right and what you need to change.
2. Be intentional about building your culture.
Culture will emerge within a company no matter what. Be intentional about the message you want to send out, and build from that. Do you value teamwork or individual performance? Do you prefer out-of-the-box thinking or one way of doing things? All of these matter.
3. Build your culture around employee satisfaction.
“People are attracted to a winning culture,” said Tannenbaum. “Employees want to be celebrated, acknowledged and have a meaningful impact on the company.” When employees know what they are doing and why it matters, they feel more satisfied. A company that facilitates employee happiness will have lower turnover and greater productivity. Culture sustains employee enthusiasm.
4. Use culture as a recruiting tool.
During the hiring process, seek out individuals already aligned with the company’s culture. “Actively ask questions in the interview process based on your company culture,” Judkins suggested. Hiring based on culture helps expand your existing culture as your company grows. “It’s about more than a skillset,” LaFrazia added. “It’s about adding to the family.”
5. Invest in proper leadership training.
“Leaders have the greatest impact on company culture,” Tannenbaum said. “If you are too busy to hear what your employees are struggling with, it will impact your culture negatively.” Making sure everyone is heard, regardless of level, creates a place of welcome and community. Offer leadership training and use company surveys to keep leaders and employees on the same page.
Once a company culture is established, help it grow in the direction you want. However, the task isn’t over. As your team grows, you’ll find the culture will change with it. “Culture is a living, breathing organism,” said Feeman. “It’s always changing.”
Additional resources to build the company culture you want:
- Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it...and Why the Rest Don't by Verne Harnish (https://scalingup.com/)
- The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/the_dip/)
- The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni · Denison Organizational Culture Surveys (https://www.denisonconsulting.com/culture-surveys/) · Unpacking Trust eCourse through New Legends (http://unpackingtrust.com/trust/)
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
- The Five Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogan, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne (https://www.franklincovey.com/books/5-choices-book.html)
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