Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Creating a Culture Within Your Business

When Pat and I decided we wanted to take our businesses to the next level, one of the most important decisions we made was to define and create a culture within our PT Company. Creating a culture has an indirect and intangible effect on your growth and business worth, but do not underestimate its importance. We identified that we wanted our business to be more profitable and less dependant upon ourselves. Essentially we wanted a dynamic, self-sustaining business that we could count on while we focused on other areas.

Creating a culture does not have a crystal clear definition. It involves your businesses identity, values, beliefs, products, services, and everything else you offer – and it brings out yours, your employee’s, and your customer’s passion and enjoyment of what it is you do. Your business culture will begin (or end) with you, and you’ll find that it will spread infectiously throughout your team if you have selected the right teammates. After that, you’ll find your customers picking up on it and responding to it. The kind of loyalty it can bring about can lead to referrals, repeat business, and positive word of mouth, and we know what that can do.

Looking back at how we effectively created a culture within our business which we are happy with, there were 3 basic benchmarks which we started with.

1. Define and Display Big Picture
2. Have Team Take Ownership
3. Identify and Apply Completion Plans

Define and Display Your Big Picture

You’ve probably heard me use the phrase ‘Big Picture’ repeateadly. Well, rest assured it’s that important. That’s the snapshot of what you want the finished product of your business to look like. When your team sees the vision of and buys into your Big Picture, it takes your business to a whole new level. You’ll begin to see their Big Picture become even bigger and run concurrent with yours in many cases. I’ve written about it time and time again, but I’ll reinforce the importance of setting specific goals for specific timeframes. Weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals for the short-term, and your Big Picture goals to which everything else relates.

You should also identify goals for each individual who has a role within your business. Identify and explain them, so each person understands not only what they’re personally responsible for accomplishing, but also how their goals relate and contribute to the overall goals of the business.

The Big Picture and goals should be kept in the forefront, so don’t be scared to post them for everyone to see daily. We all need those reminders on occasion.

Have Team Take Ownership

If you have the right people on your ‘team’, then expect them to embrace this new culture. In order to do so, you will need to establish a sense of ownership within them. Your people should know that there’s a “win” for them, not just for you, the owner, upon achieving individual or team goals. You need them to buy into the TEAM mentality, and not look at the business as a ‘punch-in, punch-out’ type workplace. Find out what makes them flourish and put them in a position to succeed. Give them the opportunity to do what they are good at and enjoy, and you will see more of a fire in their performance.

If your employees feel like pivotal contributors and that they can influence the process of reaching the company goals, you are creating a positive culture. If they do not, your culture will become one of cynicism, laziness and mediocrity.

Identify and Apply Completion Plans

One of the most important steps we took was developing our completion plans – which we included in our Business Action Plan - Completion plans are step by step plans for every possible task every individual can do within our organizations. But we didn’t just write out step by step plans, we identified the steps which we feel will give us the highest probability of achieving our desired result (heard that before?). Having procedural steps in place allows us to identify, then, where an individual or a procedure went wrong if we don’t achieve our desired result. So if our sales are down, we’re not left scratching our head. It also allows easily quantified results if we are attempting to test any new methods or steps in any procedure.

Where this falls into creating a culture is giving your team accountability for every task and action they perform. Their tasks are identified and outlined, so they know exactly what is expected of them. Also, there is significantly less time spent aimlessly wondering, ‘What do I do with this now?’ (It’s simplifies tasks to where some of them are almost mindless – I love it.) So now the guy who hates paperwork but loves to train clients, spends less time fumbling with getting a client folder organized - it's step by step - and has more time to do what he loves. We all win.

Of course there is more to creating a positive, productive, profitable culture than just three steps. This is where you need to start. And no matter what type of culture you feel as if you have now, know that it can be changed starting right now. And it probably won’t be as difficult of a transition as you think, but I will guarantee that it will make as dramatic a difference in your business life.

Nick Berry


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