Studies show that the number of and strength of relationships in an individual’s life affects their overall wellbeing – both mentally and physically. Relationships overflow into how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others. The same relational system holds true within an organization. A business becomes defined by both relationships within it along with its relationships with those outside its organizational walls. These relationships build a culture and values that dictate the behaviors that contribute to the overall environment of a business. This is what has evolved into the concept of corporate culture. An organization’s culture is a living, breathing thing that continues to grow and shift as you do. Your company culture will set the environment in the workplace which will trickle down into every person who comes into contact with your business, including your customers.
Relationships within – Building Your Team
Who you hire and how they interact with you and one another is the first, and debatably the most important piece of the corporate culture puzzle. A successful company requires a team of people who share a common goal. If your team is not on the same page, or does not mesh well with one another, internal friction becomes an obstacle to both growth and positive customer experience.
There are many avenues to creating a strong team. Below are some options we have found success in. We recommend you use this as a starting place and find exactly what works for you and your industry. Some of our personal success team building elements include:
- Finding a majority common interest and capitalize on it. This does not have to be anything extravagant. For example, all of our employees have a heart for dogs. We began a “bring your dog to work day” and it is now something we look forward to and communicate about which Canine companion’s turn it is. We took it one step further with our company rebrand to “Klout 9” and now call ourselves the K9 Team. Our entire company branding strategy stemmed from an important sector of our organizational culture.
- Team building activities. Plan out monthly team building activities outside of the office. It can be a simple night of bowling or a Friday afternoon participating in a community event together. Time getting to know one another and developing relationships among team members boosts overall morale and contributes to your culture. If you are a much larger organization and this seems impossible, consider branching your employees into separate productivity teams. This not only creates camaraderie but can become a healthy form of competition between teams that will boost productivity.
- Designated communication places. This seems simple, but having a project management or communication platform outside of email creates a more casual place for team communication and can go a long way in bringing a team together.
- Team Tasks. Give your teams industry specific tasks that require them to work together. For example, if you are a social media marketing company, have your team come up with ideas on how to promote themselves (while promoting the company). This spreads insight of your organizational culture to those outside the business walls, gives your employees a voice in strategy, and encourages idea flow followed by execution as a team.
Outward Relationships – Becoming Customer Centric
The second piece of the corporate culture puzzle is your organization’s relationship with those outside the business, particularly the end consumer. A successful business culture will focus on creating a positive end experience for customers. As discussed in the opening statement of this article, relationships have a direct impact in an individual’s overall experience. This means to have a successful organizational culture, you need to build a relationship with the end consumer. This may appear to be the most important piece of the puzzle but remember, your employees are the lifeline between you and the consumer. Their perception of who you are as a company and what you stand for is directly impacted by their interactions and relationship, or lack thereof, with your team. The key to becoming client centric starts with your team and how you put into motion their relationship building platform with consumers. A good starting place is to implement a client centric structure. Some angels we have found success in are as follows:
- Each client is designated a point of contact available at any time for ideas, strategy, etc. This creates an opportunity for clear communication and encourages the client to use their voice.
- Our team members position themselves as an extension of their clients team, rather than an agency. Our goal is for clients to view us as employees that work remotely. They have a voice in everything we do, we join in on company meetings and discussions, especially in the beginning stages to learn their style and language and get insight on their overall corporate culture. This also includes on site events. If we do a photoshoot, their point of contact comes along, we attend client events and fundraisers, etc. This can be shaped to fit your business structure. The point is to make your client feel like they are your only client. Build an active relationship with them rather than only communication about monthly reports or product review requests.
- Strive to positively influence and promote their culture. As a digital marketing company, we do this through what we call “content clouds”. As we have mentioned previously, the way you are perceived by others reflects your culture. The way you are perceived is heavily influenced by what information is pushed out to the world. While what others put out there about your business is related to their experience and relationship with you, what a business pushes out about themselves also has a powerful impact. Content clouds are our way of managing and categorizing/segmenting information about a company. We break down each business into different categories: people, education, service/products, community, etc and build out content for each category. Content includes photography, videography, blogs, ads, etc. This helps to diversify content and display different areas within your company that make up your corporate culture. It opens a digital window to your company for them to see what makes you, you.
Having a strong corporate culture could be what makes or breaks a company. A formula for business success is building a team that operates inline with your ideal organizational culture. A culture that focuses on being customer centric, creating a positive experience for customers by operating at a high level of personal customer service through the form of relationship building will lead to long lasting growth.