Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Power of Business Culture

Does your business have a culture? Of course, the answer is yes, even if you may not spend a huge amount of time building your culture and massaging it. In the words of leadership experts and authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, “Whether you manage the smallest of teams or a multicontinent organization, you’re the proud owner of a culture. If your culture is clear, positive, and strong, then your people will buy into your ideas and cause, and most important, will believe what they do matters and that they can make a difference…On the other hand, if your culture is dysfunctional – chaotic, combative, or indifferent – employees will most likely spend more time thinking about why the people sitting next to them should be fired [rather] than getting fired up themselves.”

In the new book by Gostick and Elton, ALL IN: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, the secret is out: Culture is what makes teams and organizations great. There are two questions at the book’s core: Why is it that some work cultures get their people to buy in wholeheartedly and others don’t? And second, what can managers at any level do to build and sustain vibrant cultures of their own? As a result of Gostick’s and Elton’s comprehensive research, they share the seven ways to make a positive, long-lasting impact:

[1] Define your burning platform (leaders define the mission with great clarity).
[2] Create a customer focus.
[3] Develop agility.
[4] Share everything.
[5] Partner with your talent (employees).
[6] Root for each other.
[7] Establish clear accountability.

Consider this example: When a new Chick-fil-A restaurant is being built, fans who visit the construction site will receive a coupon for a free meal the night before the restaurant opens. For the fans who show up, they will get 10 coupons for free meals and also become deputized as Chick-fil-A ambassadors. They promise to hand-out their coupons and promote the restaurant. How does your business create this same level of enthusiasm?

Consider this example: An anonymous company recognized excellent work by employees with a band featuring drummers and brass instruments. The band would walk around the company, and at every opportunity, more and more employees would join the “marching band.” But, best of all, the CEO actually led the band and would stop at the star employee’s desk to visit and recognize the individual’s accomplishment. What does your business do to recognize employee achievements?

Consider this example: The Real Salt Lake Soccer team holds regular meetings to recognize employee achievement. But the meetings are unique. After an employee is recognized with a Customer Service Award, he or she roots for a fellow employee by giving an Employee Appreciation Award. This second award is an effective way for employees to care about each other. Does your business go one step beyond recognizing good customer service and promote employee appreciation?

For more examples and an amazing list of “52 Ways to Get Your People All In,” check out ALL IN. While 2012 is not yet half over, I have, without a doubt, discovered my favorite book of the year. ALL IN is a must-read for anyone who wants to succeed in business, surpass expectations, and create a powerful and effective culture. So, are you all in?

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  1. Debbie,

    Thank you for the book recommendation.

    Many of us are independent consultants, and we don't consider our "corporate culture" as a high focus, but we really should be examining and developing this.

    All In is a perfect title, as in the noisiness of today's society, cutting through and getting people to go "All In" in a workplace is quite important.

    Thanks for your insight,


  2. Enjoyed this post very much, Debbie.
    As you know, I'm a strong proponent of social business and what you (via Adrien and Chester) describe here is what every business that strives to be social should be.

    Embedding a social technology to a healthy culture enhances it. That's why I think companies that already have a good business culture lead the way in social media adoption and integration.

    Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I'll add it to my ever expanding list. :-)


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