Today we want to share with you why defining your company values is so important.

At HR Gurus we know that HR people are commonly labelled as ‘fun police’. But unlike our friends in corporate land, we actively encourage our clients to focus on creating a fun, engaging work environment. The benefits are obvious (to most people).

This function of HR is commonly labelled as ‘HR fluff’! But anyone who ‘gets’ the deep importance of people within their business, will know that having a strong, positive culture is vital to long-term business success.

It helps you to attract and retain awesome people who are connected to your higher purpose or mission. And, it helps you to create and nurture your unique competitive advantage. Your culture is the one thing your competitors cannot replicate.

What is a company’s culture about?

So, what is this ‘culture stuff’ all about?

It is about the behaviours, attitudes, beliefs, values, and work ethics of your people. Your culture will define ‘What’s acceptable around here’. If you think it’s not important or all fluff—then you are very wrong!

Your culture will define:

  • the way people speak to each other
  • the way they behave
  • the way they do their jobs, and ultimately
  • the way they interact with your customers, (are you listening now?)

So, if you have a negative culture (or a confused one), you will not have a sustainable, successful business.

Why leave your culture norms to chance? This is why defining what your mission and values are is so damn important! These set the tone for what is acceptable in your organisation and guides everything that you do!

How does a company’s culture impact performance?

The culture of your business impacts on you, your people and your customers. Think about these examples. If it is the norm for:

  • your sales people not to call their clients back for a couple of days. And if it is the accepted norm for your production team not to have your products ready by deadlines, your customers will be unhappy, won’t they? (That is, if they are still your customers.)
  • people to be reprimanded in public for making a mistake in their work. Then people will not only be scared and intimidated, but all managers in your business will start managing this way. As a result, people will be scared to make decisions or mistakes, or to stretch for goals. Plus, you will get a reputation—people will leave your company, and it will be hard to find great people to work for you.
  • you and your managers to be aggressive, or to blame everyone else for errors. Then your customer service people will also behave like that—even in front of customers. Imagine your customers not getting a product or service on time and the customer service person telling them that they don’t know where it is—but it’s someone else’s fault anyway. This won’t make for happy customers.
  • people to work 11-hour days with their boss watching their every move, and asking them where they are during every minute of the day. Then people will burn out. They won’t be productive because, in turn, they will be clockwatching—for the moment that they can get out of there and go home!

You probably get it—culture not only impacts your business—it DEFINES your business and the experiences your customers have when they deal with you. If you have a negative culture, imagine the damage that can happen.

Rate your company’s culture

But, never fear, you can change what your culture is like. As a leader, you set the tone for how things are done—which means, you also have the power to change it.

It starts with you as a business owner or leader. You need to start by walking the talk!

So, let’s get into the practicalities. how do you rate your culture? It’s time to be honest and take the HR Gurus’ quick culture audit:

  1. Do you find it easy to recruit great people in to your business?
  2. Do you know why people have left your company in the past 12 months?
  3. Have you done anything to address the rate of people leaving?
  4. Has this been successful?
  5. Do your people manage customer complaints and find proactive solutions?
  6. Do you often get customer compliments?
  7. Do your people know what your customers are saying about the business?
  8. When you walk around your business, are people laughing and enjoying themselves?
  9. Do your people happily come to work earlier than expected or work later (without you asking them?)
  10. Do you have a Christmas party and do most people attend?
  11. Do your employees have friendships with each other outside of work?
  12. Do you have lunches / afternoon teas / other mini-celebrations for birthdays or special events in your employees’ lives?
  13. Do you know anything about your employees outside their ‘work life’?
  14. Do you / your managers have regular meetings with your employees?
  15. In the past six months, have you had an ‘all-in’ company meeting or communication?
  16. Do you communicate all changes in your business to all of your employees?
  17. Do your people ask for help if there is an issue with their work or the workplace?
  18. Do you have an ‘open-door’ policy? (And do people come into your office to ask questions?)
  19. Do you hear positive comments in your business about yourself and your managers?
  20. Do your managers ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to policy and process?
  21. Do your people work outside of the scope of their role without you asking them to?
  22. Do your people meet deadlines on time, every time?

So, count them up—how many questions did you answer ‘Yes’ to?

0 – 7: You probably aren’t aligned with all those great words you have in your Handbook defining your mission, values. Or maybe you don’t have any clearly defined! In fact, your culture looks like it needs a lot of work. Hopefully, our advice throughout this blog and our book will help. But we think you should do something—and fast!

8 – 14: You are almost on your way, but need to do a bit more work as it’s probable that your people are still not happy.

15 – 19: You are on your way—things are looking healthy in your business! Just keep reading our hot tips and working towards your goals. Your people are probably pretty happy at work.

20 – 22: Wow, well done! Your culture awareness is A1, keep up the awesome work!

What does this tell you about your workplace? Hopefully, the questions are aligned to the ‘wish list’ of your culture.

But more often than not, there’s a mismatch. That’s OK though, because we can show you how to turn it around. In regards to having a positive culture, there are a few key points that we go by:

  • Get clear about your purpose and make sure your employees are plugged into this
  • Define your mission, vision values, these should set the boundaries of behaviour
  • Communicate!
  • Communicate! Communicate!
  • Have fun

Later in the week we will share Part Two of our blog series regarding purpose and values, to give you some tips on the how to…

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