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Why Culture is the Foundation of a Great Business

2 years ago

The ability to attract, retain and develop a successful team is absolutely vital if a business is to grow.  In fact, for some smaller businesses, being unable to build a good team prevents any growth at all.  I regularly hear comments like “I employed people once but it was a nightmare, what with all the regulations and tax implications and the need to supervise and train them, so I got rid of them and am happier on my own.”

The fact is, you will not grow your business without a team to support you, so let’s start by getting those limiting beliefs out of the way.  Yes there are regulations and tax implications, but so there are for driving a car, and it does not stop us from doing that.  And yes, you have to train and supervise your staff initially, but if you make a good job of it, your staff can take on the training and supervision of new staff in turn.

Business people that use these issues as an excuse not to recruit people are doing so purely because the only other option they have is to say that they are no good at building a team and have no desire to learn how to do it properly.   You may be happy in your comfort zone of doing OK and have no real passion to grow, and that’s absolutely fine – so stop blaming outside factors and admit to yourself that this is the case, and make the most of where you are.

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But if you really have the desire to build a business – i.e. “a commercial, profitable, enterprise that works without you”,  then no amount of regulation or inconvenience will stop you.  So let’s assume that you DO want to grow your business and understand that you need a great team of people around you to help you achieve your goals, so how do you get that winning team in place?  Well, the steps to grow a successful team are very simple, if not exactly easy, and you need to start with understanding basic human behaviour.

Our behaviour has been studied for many years, and in essence has hardly changed in thousands of years.  Humans are social animals, and we get on best with people like ourselves.  Over time, different cultures emerge that are formed when the core beliefs of groups of people become aligned.  The power of these cultures can lead to great or bad things, depending on the morals and values of the leaders.

Humans seek this kind of belonging all the time.  Spending time with family and friends, attending clubs, going to sporting events etc. is very important to most of us, and one of the most serious punishments for a human being is solitary confinement.  Being on your own for a prolonged period of time can lead to mental health issues and is the most common cause for suicide – the feeling that “nobody cares”.

So how does knowing this help us build a great team?  Well, like most things in life, once we know the cause and effect we can use it to our advantage.  We know that people who come together form a cultural purpose that binds them together, and influences what they do and achieve.  So in our business, all we need to do is to create a culture that will do the same.

The first step is to realise that every human culture generally starts with one person or a small group of people and a leader, someone who has the vision of what could be, like Martin Luther King, who famously said “I have a dream…”

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Whether you like it or not, you are the leader of your business, and everybody who currently works for you, or will work for you in the future, will look to you to be that leader.  There is no magic formula, but we all have it in us to be a great leader.  Once you step up to become the leader of the business, you need to set the direction of travel of the business by clarifying your vision for the future.

The next step is to define what your business culture is going to be.  Think of this as your “rules of the game”.  These rules or guidelines will stem from your own personal values (core beliefs), and we generally find that they can be condensed into a dozen or so statements.  Once you have defined the culture you want in your business, you then need to make sure that everybody understands it and lives by it.

This is where the hard work is needed.  Changing culture does not happen overnight. Everything and everyone in the organisation needs to be aligned with the culture, and anybody who isn’t needs to be reminded that they have agreed to it, and will ultimately be asked to leave the organisation if they do not wish to join in.

The big thing to remember is that if you do not set your own culture, it will set itself.  Groups of people will default to the most dominant set of beliefs, and if they are not yours, then you are in for trouble.  Tony Hsieh, in his book “Delivering Happiness”, wrote about how he fell out of love with his first business because it had formed a culture of its own, which he despised.  In the end, he could not bear to go into work, and he had to sell the business to get away from it.

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Call us on 02380 560833

Having a positive, empowering, respectful culture will make your business a great place to work and help you to attract good people who will share your vision and values.  Likewise, having a culture that allows for negative attitudes and behaviour to exist will mean that the good staff will leave, and you’ll only get new people coming on board who share the negative behaviours and beliefs.

So now you can see that building a great team starts with you as the leader setting the direction and culture of the business.  As the old saying goes, “you get the people you deserve.”   If you want a better team, start with the person at the top.  So take ACTION, set the culture for your business and start building a winning team!

For some ideas on culture statements, have a look at ActionCOACH’s 14 points of culture.  And if you need any help with setting the vision and culture for your business, team building, or anything else for that matter, please call the office on 02380 560833 and arrange to speak to Colin or Kevin!

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