Almost everyone has been adversely affected by the economic challenges over the past decade. Some of us have lost our jobs, houses, retirement or at least know someone personally who has. People are tired of it and won’t put up with it anymore, at least for long. We now have many more choices of where we can work, who we give our money to and where we buy things. This is the Information Age, where transparency governs everything, and word of mouth helps us decide on how we spend and what companies to support.
Today, companies are free to sell or deliver most anything, and their culture is usually based solely on that. But to ensure success, culture also needs to be structured to align with the wants, needs and demands of its employees and customers. Companies need to be transparent in “what” they do and “why” they do it to attract and retain people, and they must also treat employees and customers like they matter.
So, according to Dr. David “Doc” Vik, founder and CEO of The Culture King and author of “The Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What You Sell,” if you want a company that attracts and retains loyal employees and customers, is successful and will stand the test of time, creating your own unique culture is priority #1.
Unique culture, in a nutshell
Having a unique culture is the most important factor in business. When done right, it will become part of your DNA and it will attract both loyal employees and customers, allowing the employees and the company to be empowered and grow.
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 within all companies, there is already a culture, but it may not be what is wanted, and many times, the culture is created by default. So if you want to create your own unique culture that will help empower your employees and drive your company to success, transforming the culture you already have is a great place to start.
Click through for five steps you can take to create your own unique company culture, as identified by Dr. David “Doc” Vik, founder and CEO of The Culture King and author of “The Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What You Sell.”
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, re-invention and will be crucial for your employees in finding the best way to do things, and it needs to evolve over time and be a guiding light or “North Star” to follow and help guide.
With the right vision, management doesn’t need to tell the employees what to do, as they already know what needs to be done, which helps minimize management and allow for employee autonomy. The vision needs to be the “what” you are doing or delivering that will also attract the employees who want to create it, and the customers who want to buy it — and shouldn’t limit the future offering of the business.
And do your best to make your vision short, memorable and repeatable; long or confusing paragraphs cannot guide thoughts, decisions or actions of the employees, mostly because they can’t remember or repeat it – which is one of the most common mistakes made in creating a great and compelling vision.
P.S. Dump your mission statements, as 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.”
Everyone needs a purpose in their lives, and it’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 who want to fulfill your company’s purpose.
If you create your purpose that will be, or can be, a benefit to humankind, not just benefiting your company, you will not only attract employees, but retain them as well, which will produce the same effect with your customers.
Make sure you also make your purpose short, memorable and repeatable, just like your vision; otherwise, your purpose won’t be remembered or repeated and won’t give a concise reason for employees to work with your company or a reason to stay.
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?
For most companies, the business models are stuck in the past and have not evolved. Here’s an interesting fact: The lifespan of an S&P company a generation ago was 50 years. Today the lifespan of an S&P company is 25 years and shrinking. Companies are dying at an unprecedented rate, and many times, it has to do with the business model not evolving with the times.
Today, in the Information Age, people have all the information they need at their fingertips on the Internet. They make their own choices and decisions of whom to work with and whom they buy from. They no longer want to be sold, have binding contracts or want to be stuck with their purchases by way of poor return policies.
The “middle person” is going away in every area of business. Most of us don’t use stockbrokers or travel agents anymore. The same will be true for any other “middle person,” which is a means to an end unless they offer a lot of value.
So if your company has its business model deeply entrenched in hard up-selling, long contracts, a middle person, or it doesn’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. People now have a choice and a voice, and companies must evolve or dissolve.
Having or creating unique wow factors for your company may be the single most important thing in business today. Why should anyone want to work or buy from your company? What is unique about it? Does what you sell or delver, stand out from the rest?
Having a unique 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.
Create your own unique wow factors that would set you apart, make you unique and wow your customers. You can choose from any of a number of things like: quality, value, price, service, delivery — the list goes on. Just be different! If everyone is building fences, dig a tunnel. Be different, unique and wow them.
Important note: In creating your own unique wow factors, remember that they need to be tangible. It’s what the customers receive and not what you say you are. If you say you have the lowest prices, but that’s not what the customer receives, it’s not unique and won’t wow them. You’ll know soon enough; the customers vote with their pocketbooks.
Values are the last of the five super important structures in creating your own unique culture. Values let the outside world know what you are all about. Company values are basically what everyone values within the organization.
To come up with your company’s values, it makes sense to get everyone’s input, as they will be the ones who need to embody them and live by them. Just take a good look around inside your company and see what the current values are and if they are not desired for the future, create values that will guide the people and the company towards success.
For example, if your company currently doesn’t communicate promptly, you wouldn’t want to state your value as “communicate when convenient,” as that value won’t allow your company to reach your potential in the future. You may want to create a value like “timely communication.” That value would attract those who value timely communication and, over time, that value will become self-managing, while helping your employees and company reach their full potential.
Make sure your values are clearly stated to demonstrate how the organization performs or will perform. Values shouldn’t have to be explained or open to interpretation.
You can have any number of values, it’s up to you, but keep in mind that your values will direct the way you do things in the future, so choose wisely.