Creating a dynamic organization that sustains growth requires several factors. No organization is guaranteed perpetual success; if you simply Google the top ten companies in the U.S. twenty-five years ago, you will find most are gone. Unless steps are taken, it is easy to lose the passion and momentum to sustain.
When speaking to Chambers of Commerce around the country, I will at times start by asking the question, “What are the items necessary to begin and build a successful company?” The usual answers are “marketing plan,” “business plan,” “inventory,” “furniture, fixtures, equipment,” “available cash,” and many more. It always amazes me to never hear, “Creating a strong corporate culture.” The Harvard Business Review had an article a few years back discussing the value of a strong culture. They began by saying that the majority of business owners and CEOs agree that culture is imperative to success, however, few understand how to get their arms around what is required.
Many believe by opening up a room with no walls between the employees, that action will create more creativity. They feel by having groups within the company going to lunch together is the key or perhaps after-work meetings at the bar or bowling. I am not saying any of those ideas are wrong, but for the most part, they aren’t needed. Corporate culture is the “spirit of those in your company.” Whatever that spirit is, it must be fed and nourished, or erosion will occur within.
I had a ranch in Oklahoma for many years. There was a large oak tree by a running creek and over time I noticed the tree was getting closer and closer to the edge of the creek. Erosion is sometimes difficult to see, for it is slow, silent, and subtle. The same is true in many corporations that are not feeding the culture or “spirit” of their people.
So, what are some of the essentials needed to begin and feed a strong corporate culture?
- Passionate Leadership. Nothing can substitute the passion of a leader; not “hype” but continued hope and vision for where the organization is going. A leader must come to work each day alive, empowering and equipping his or her team.
- Loyalty and Unity. Without loyalty, there can never be unity. And without unity, strong execution of plans never happens. You don’t demand loyalty; you create a culture where those working within that environment are loyal to your ideas and vision. A culture where unity is the norm instead of the exception.
- Values. There must be a defined set of values that drive the culture to greatness. I recently acquired a company and immediately developed values that every employee from the C-Suite to the Janitor has memorized. They are: Authentic, Compassionate, Humble, Vibrant, and Disruptive. Every new hire is passed through this set of values; he or she must accept these values to be a part of our culture. These values are consistently taught throughout the company and shared at each meeting. When you have a set of values that everyone agrees upon, the spirit of the company grows dramatically.
- Vision. The leader of the organization must have a strong vision of what he or she sees for the direction of the company. I have said many times that your vision must be so large that it scares you! That vision must be shared along with the values at each meeting within your organization. Everyone must know the vision of the company and continually have an update on its progress. The spirit of the culture requires that people feel involved in the direction of the organization.
- Edification and Recognition. What drives the culture is continued recognition; building up those working within the organization who are contributing to the vision. Everyone needs recognition, they need to hear and know their efforts are being noticed. Having a positive attitude within the organization is the key to producing the greatest spirit within the culture.
By focusing on the above five principles, you will soon discover you are building a culture that will survive the years and you will find yourself among the rare few who create an organization that grows in perpetuity. If I can help, drop me a line.