You can't have a successfully growing company without a solid, sustainable culture. Master coach Jack Daly has finally put the keys to building an incredible culture into his wonderful new book, Hyper Sales Growth: Street-Proven Systems & Processes; How to Grow Quickly & Profitably.
Management is often told to build a great culture, but do they really understand what it means to do so?
Daly clearly defines culture as the unique personality of your company--the people, the environment, the "feel." Great companies build it with intention, because, as Daly says: "You can't fake culture." Culture does more to bring great people in, keep them there, keep them happy, and keep them working longer and more productively than any other factor. Daly points out that to have a successful business you must create an environment where people want to go to work vs. have to go to work. Daly's motto: "Put the F word back in business. Make it FUN."
Daly rightly observes that many business leaders will design and articulate an ideal culture but never actually install the systems and processes needed to make sure it gets started and is upheld. Below are the four systems Daly says you need to build a killer culture.
1. Systems for Recognition
Daly explains that the people who work in your company should feel recognized and valued, from the very first day they start work. He suggests you should never start new people on a Monday, when things are unorganized and hectic. Instead, bring them in when things are humming and make their first day a day to remember.
With your existing staff, small but regular gestures go a long way. Recognizing milestones, achievements, and good efforts at any opportunity is sure to make someone feel valued and connected to the company. Recognition doesn't need to be expensive, but it needs to be personal. Make sure you tie your rewards as best you can to desired actions. As Daly says: "You get the behavior you recognize and reward." Imagine if today an outsider stood in front of your employees and asked, "By a show of hands, how many of you are overly recognized?" Put systems in place that ensure a full room of hands up.
If you can only do one thing differently tomorrow, Daly says: "Recognize the people you work with directly and win their hearts."
2. Systems for Communication
Many companies get by, day after day, without building specific communication systems. But as companies grow, this approach results in people problems and systemic breakdowns. A top complaint employees make in HR surveys is "I wish I knew more about what was going on."
Lack of consistent information breeds confusion, fear, and resentment. Daly advocates establishment of some simple systems of communication between management and employees that will get everyone on the same page. Teams and departments should check in daily. There should be larger monthly, quarterly, and annual check-ins. Establish policy and practice where bad or difficult news is proactively brought to the table. Daly preaches that the best policy is to shoot straight and don't spin. Most importantly he points out that everyone must learn to listen: "We've heard it often: two ears, one mouth, for a reason."
If you can only do one thing differently tomorrow, Daly says: "Shut down your inner voice and start being an active listener."
3. Systems for Personal and Professional Development
Daly says potential employees want to know why (besides a paycheck) they should come to work in your company and current employees need to know why should they stay. The best people see their careers as more than just salary and perks. They care about the overall experience they're going to have while working each day. They want the opportunities for growth and development that can only be fostered in a growth-oriented work environment.
Great employees want to become smarter and more productive in their careers. Their objectives are aligned with yours, so make the investment in them. Construct or pay for training that makes your employees better at their technical and people skills. Invest the time and money to cultivate your employees and you'll end up with skilled and loyal management that will happily expand the company for decades.
If you can only do one thing differently tomorrow, Daly says: "Discover the visions each of your employees have, and work to blaze a path for them."
4. Systems for Empowerment
Daly explains how you can leverage the growth of your business by empowering your people. He stresses that a growing company needs active decision making by everyone, not just the CEO. But it's not as simple as telling people to make decisions. If they don't feel confident they have tools and authority, they will hold back and defer back up the ladder.
Daly says: "To truly empower your employees, you must create an environment where people feel comfortable making decisions, as if they were the owner." It's hard to build this empowerment all at once. If your culture is clearly defined and aligned, your people will know what action to take.
Every time you give over authority, your employees grow stronger. If they are rewarded for taking right action on their own, that behavior will expand. Put protective systems in place giving them the opportunity to fail safely so they can learn from error.
If you can only do one thing differently tomorrow, Daly says: "Give people power to succeed and fail on their own so they learn and grow."