No one can set the tone and culture of a business better than its owner. John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” When the leader continually and effectively communicates their focus and passion for the business, it becomes infectious to both employees and customers.
It is usually rather easy to get a good idea of where you want your business to go. Difficulty arises in taking those thoughts and intentionally sharing them, over and over, in a concise manner to those who have a relationship to your company. Here are a few tips to help you create an irresistible company culture:
- Set the vision to improve the company, employee, and customers . . . not just the bottom line
People have a deep need and desire to be a part of something impactful that is bigger than they are as an individual. Cast a vision for your company that shows employees and customers that they are making their world a better place because they are a part of your team. You don’t have to be solving world hunger, but your employees should know they are making someone’s life better because of the work they do for your company.
- Keep the vision simple
The ideas for your company’s next steps should be able to be communicated in concise, simple terms. A sentence or two that can work into almost any conversation will generate a MUCH quicker buy-in than a white paper sitting in the operations manual and buried somewhere on your employee portal.
Simplicity is created by breaking down large ideas to smaller tasks or concepts. Identify the most immediate tasks that will make the greatest impact toward achieving your overall vision and primarily communicate the importance of those tasks.
For example, a restaurant’s vision is to create an environment where customers feel like family. The owner lives and breathes this concept, but the recent customer feedback indicates that the service is fine but nothing out of the ordinary. Rather than only referring back to the “feel like family” vision statement, the owner oozes the idea of asking and learning the first names of customers. By boiling the vision down to a simple idea or task, the employees can embrace the vision at a quicker pace.
If you are having trouble communicating your vision in simple, concise terms, consider a Strategic Planning Session. Your ISBDC offers no-cost strategic planning sessions for your small business.
- Communicate the same vision over, and over, and over, and over . . . and over
The Marketing Rule of 7 says that a prospective buyer should hear or see the marketing message at least seven times before they buy from you. The number 7 really isn’t the critical number. What’s critical is to know that your message must be oozed MANY MANY times before your staff and customers will begin to respond.
Setting the vision and goals at the annual staff retreat and then posting them on the break room bulletin board won’t change your culture. You WILL begin to change your culture when your employees and customers hear, see and experience the simple vision you cast over and over again through a variety of mediums.
- Intentionally work vision into your conversations with both employees and customers.
This is where the majority of the “oozing” comes into play. Without sounding like a never-ending infomercial, your conversations and communication pieces to staff and customers need to ooze the passion, excitement and vision that you hold for your company. Explain the “why” of the vision and the tasks therein. It takes intentionality to ensure that you are always communicating vision to your team. It might take some practice, but it is critical to the buy-in of your staff. When an employee hears your vision (and how they can make a greater impact by pursuing that vision) from you in almost every conversation, they will know it is important. If your vision is only stated in the monthly meeting, the employees are left to wonder the actual level of importance of the vision.
- Consider setting an internal theme for your vision annually or quarterly.
To keep the vision simple and easy to remember, consider creating an internal theme for a period of time. Perhaps the restaurant owner mentioned earlier could call their annual vision theme “Name Game.” They could talk about the importance of greeting customers’ by name when they walk in and how that makes the customer feel like family. The owner could run a contest to see which employee could learn the most names of regular customers. Once it has become part of the restaurant’s culture for the employees to learn the customers’ names, the owner could move on to another element of service that will help achieve the vision of “feeling like family.”