I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
To ensure success, a company’s culture needs to be structured to align with the wants, needs and demands of its employees and customers. Companies must be transparent in what they do and why they do it to attract and retain people, and they must treat employees and customers like they matter.
If you want a company that attracts and retains loyal employees and customers, creating your own unique culture is priority No. 1.
Unique Culture, In a Nutshell
The challenge is that articulating “culture” within a business in and of itself is kind of “sqwooshy.” Companies attempt to do many things to create a culture, but the anticipated positive effects are not always realized because the structure that will create the culture is, most often, the missing piece.
Keep in mind that some sort of culture already exists within all companies. It may not be what’s wanted. Many times, the culture is created by default. If you want to create your own unique culture that will empower your employees and drive your company to success, transforming the culture you already have is a great place to start.
Step 1: Create a compelling vision. Within all companies, groups of people need to know what they are doing or delivering. Once they know the “what,” all thoughts, decisions and actions can be aligned to it. This will help in creation, reinvention and be crucial for your employees to find the best way to do things.
With the right vision, management doesn’t need to tell the employees what to do; they already know what needs to be done, which helps minimize management and allow for employee autonomy.
Do your best to make your vision short, memorable and repeatable, as long or confusing paragraphs cannot guide thoughts, decisions or actions of the employees, mostly because they can’t remember or repeat it.
Dump your mission statements. They are the “how.” You don’t need tell employees the “how.” Once they know the “what” contained in the vision, they will create the “how.”
Step 2: Your business needs a purpose. Everyone needs a purpose in their lives, and that’s just as true in businesses. The purpose is the “why” you are doing what you are doing. If your company’s purpose is only about making money, employees won’t stand behind it for long. If the purpose is compelling enough and gives them a great reason to work at your company, it will attract passionate employees.
Make sure your purpose is as short, memorable and repeatable as your vision, otherwise it won’t be remembered or repeated and won’t provide a concise reason for employees to stay with your company.
Step 3: Take a good, long look at your business model. Is it in alignment with the wants, needs and demands of the customer? Is it aligned with all the possibilities and opportunities that the Information Age has to offer?
Most companies’ business models are stuck in the past. Companies are dying at an unprecedented rate, and many times it has to do with the business model not evolving with the times.
The “middle person” is disappearing in every area of business. Most of us don’t use stockbrokers or travel agents anymore. If your company has its business model deeply entrenched in hard up-selling, long contracts, “middle person,” or don’t treat the customer like they matter, you may want to change it up a bit to align with the wants, needs and demands of the customer in the Information Age.
Step 4: Create WOW factors. Having or creating unique WOW factors for your company may be the single most important thing in business today. Does what you sell or delver, stand out from the rest?
Having a WOW factor should not only be for what you sell, but how you deliver it, especially if you are a commodity or a service, as in those cases, what you sell may not be that unique in the first place.
Remember, WOW factors have to be tangible. It’s what the customers receive and perceive, not what you say you are delivering. If you say you have the lowest prices, but that’s not what the customer receives, it’s not unique or WOW. Customers vote on if its unique or WOW with their pocketbooks.
Step 5: Create values. Values let the outside world know what you are all about. To develop your company’s values, it makes sense to get everyone’s input, as they will be the one who need to embody them and live by them.
You may want to create a value like, “timely communication.” That would attract those that value timely communication and over time, that value will become self-managing, while helping your employees reach their full potential.
Make sure your values are clearly stated to result in consistent way the organization performs or will perform. Values shouldn’t have to be explained or open to interpretation.
Take some time and create the five key structures that will frame your own unique culture, aligned with the wants, needs and demands of the employees and customers and the Information Age. Once the structure is set, allow the people part of your organization to create it. Over time, your culture will become part of your DNA.
David “Doc” Vik is the founder and CEO of The Culture King and was the Culture Coach at Zappos.com (2005-2010), where he helped drive their company culture. He is the author of “The Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What You Sell.” For more information, visit www.TheCultureKing.com.