Building a Strong Culture
This is part two in a seriess on “Culture Building”. It is hoped that this will offer an effective guide to culture building. The previous article discussed the reasons to build a strong company culture and its positive effects. Here is the link: “What is the “Culture Building” Talk All About?”
This article will explore the necessary steps in building and maintaining your company’s culture. Once it has been defined, communication, training and monitoring will ensure that the culture will grow and prosper. All four steps are crucial elements in building a strong culture.
The old axiom “You do not know what you do not know” can be effectively applied to communication within a company. Most companies need to significantly improve communication. Tonya Slawinski, Ph.D., president of Support Solutions Inc., stresses the importance of communication in an effective working environment.
“Communication is an ongoing process rather than a static event,” says Slawinski. “Employees have a high tolerance for change if kept in the loop. When communication breaks down, rumors run rampant and will directly impact productivity, focus and ultimately the finances of the company.”
The National Business Research Institute released a study in March 2014 that identified poor or nonexistent communication as the number one complaint from employees in the workplace. Because of heavy business regulation and constantly changing customer behavior, businesses must improve their company communication or they will be unable to adapt to their evolving industry.
Our teams require messages to be communicated in multiple forms in order to grow in understanding and for the message to take root. Reinforced messages lead to proactive action.
Communication must be both verbal and written. Fortunately, most organizations have at their fingertips the necessary tools needed to improve communication quickly and easily: people and technology. A frequently missed component of communication is assigning a team member responsibility to manage companywide cultural communication.
Structured plans for communicating the culture should include:
- On-site Executive Management visits
- Scheduled communication
- New team member orientation
- Regularly scheduled email updates
- Planned messages for team meetings
- Webinar updates
Without a clear plan, communication efforts will fall short. An integral part of the plan is teaching the team how to execute the mission, vision and values of the company.
Employers can no longer assume their team believes or understands how to achieve the mission, vision and values. Each member of the team comes to work with a history that could conflict with the company’s goals. Even experienced employees need training. The team must be instructed on how to become successful within the defined company culture.
The Social Research and Demonstration Corporation released a study in August of 2015 concluding that there is an average 91% retention rate among well-trained team members. Furthermore, for each retained employee the company achieves on average a $2,200 increase in incremental revenues.
The numbers speak for themselves.
The focus of the training should be on technical and soft skills. Although on-the-job training is cost effective, it tends to perpetuate bad habits or outdated procedures that lead to internal problems. Banks must develop a skills-based training plan by job position.
Soft skills are a frequently overlooked area of training. Most cultural development training programs will include soft skills. Below is a list of training that will help build a positive culture:
- Defining the Company’s Culture
- Team Building
- Interpersonal Communication
- Leadership Skills – Coaching and Motivation
- Exemplary Customer Service – Reactive vs. Proactive
- Relationship Building
- Business Etiquette
Training is an ongoing process. Do not forget that the team is the company’s most valuable resource. Invest in the team and they will give a solid return on the company’s investment.
The last piece to the puzzle is a monitoring progress. Consider the management phrase, “Inspect what you expect.” This has never been more relevant. Ideal behavior and actions are defined through communication and training. Monitoring will allow the reinforcement of good behavior and redirect behavior that does not fit in the culture.
Monitoring should come from an optimistic point of view. If the company monitors from a “Got You!” point of view, it will create a negative environment, increase employee turnover and decrease employee action. No member of the team wants to look over their shoulder all the time.
Monitoring takes two primary forms: inspections and critical measurements.
Key Elements of Inspections:
- Conducted on-site; planned in advance
- Surprise visits rewarding good behavior
- All members of management required to participate
- Always positive and upbeat
Types of Critical Measurements:
- Customer Retention
- Employee Retention
- Accuracy over Errors
- Employee Surveys
- Customer Surveys
- Management Assessments
Building an inspection process will help the team members know exactly what is expected of them by continuously defining and reinforcing the vision of success.
In conclusion, building and maintaining the culture requires a focused effort. The goal is to create an enjoyable and productive work environment for all team members and draw customers to your company. The end result will generate increased revenue and an uptick in employee retention.