Revenue growth of 700%. Sounds good right? Research shows having a strong company culture can do just that. One of many points from Benjamin Drury, The Culture Guy at our Club-Wide Online Meetup!
Benjamin explained exactly what company culture is, why it’s so important to build a successful organisation and how to tell when you’ve hit the ‘growth barrier’.
Thank you to meetup sponsor Bark Like A Big Dog. Network My Club members can get 15% off for the first year. Contact Joanne for more information.
What do you mean by culture?
Culture is simply the shared values and beliefs of a group of people, and the associated behaviours that come with it.
There are rules and shared understanding of appropriate behaviour. When groups of people come together eventually there will be shared norms, beliefs and behaviours that come with that. That’s all that culture is.
What you’re trying to do when implementing culture is shift behaviours.
Why is it important? What are the impacts of having a good culture?
Every organisation will have a culture whether it’s defined or grown organically. That culture affects everything in your organisation. From dress code, to flexible working, to hiring staff, to your marketing messaging.
The question is: if it’s going to affect everything, why are you leaving it to chance and let it organically develop?
Research shows that if you build a strong culture your revenue can increase by up to 700%. If it’s going to affect your revenue to that level, why are you not spending time looking at it.
The research is based on strong vs weak culture. Not good or bad.
To give an example: when Uber started it had a strong culture of competition and win at all costs. That culture is what took them to the billion-dollar valuation. It’s not a place that I’d want to work and lines were crossed, but it was the strength of the culture that drove results.
How do you start to implement culture?
We take companies through a 4-stage process: The first is: Definition. Why does your organisation exist? What is important to you?
One of our values is too be a cheerleader not a critic. We constantly look for ways to cheerlead people and stop ourselves being critics. We’re really clear on that. Anything we do gets measured against it.
The other three parts of the process are about implanting it. Gather a team that understand and share those values. Create communication that reinforces those values. Building your processes and procedures that reinforce those values.
You’ve got to be really clear on you stand for. Why does your business exist and what are your rules of the game.
What is the growth barrier?
The growth barrier is a place where all entrepreneurs and business founders eventually get to.
When you start a business you have your hands in everything. You control the culture. But there gets to the point where you have to let go of certain aspects of the company and you have to let other people carry some of the load.
Unfortunately, if you haven’t built your cultural structure, often what happens when other people. start to take the load is that it doesn’t go quite as well. Your values aren’t reflected. So, you put your hands back on and try to control it again.
You can add people to the business, but you don’t seem to get proportionate revenue from that. This can be because they don’t have the structure to do what it is, you’re asking them to do.
At that point, breaking through that growth barrier is about building that culture structure and values, so when you step away the quality of work continues. People understand the value base and playing field you’ve put them in.
I worked with an organisation in London who had to spend time in the office. Every time they went away to source new business they came back to chaos. They couldn’t be away from the office for more than 24 hours without thinking things were starting to go wrong.
I came in and asked them to implement unlimited holidays and more flexible working. They thought it was counterintuitive.
It worked. Two months later and productivity had increased by 40%. They created a culture of being an adult. The amount of holiday taken in those months didn’t increase or decrease. It cost them nothing and productivity went up.
How do you bread culture in a company where staff don’t see each other often?
Making sure everyone understands the why. What is it you’re delivering? Why is the world a better place because your company is in it? Making sure everyone in your organisation gets excited by turning up to work and wanting to do the job well.
Regularly bring your team together – online or in-person – and praise people that have performed well. Constantly reward people that reflect your values.
Why is culture important if you’re a start-up business with 1/2 staff? Isn’t culture just for big businesses?
Ultimately when you’re the entrepreneur you can control the culture to some degree. When you scale up it becomes harder to do that. So, implementing that at the start will be easier to grow and allow you to hire the right people.
Even if you’re a sole trader or solopreneur, if you’re really clear about what you’re doing it becomes much easier to cycle through problems. You’ll make decisions based on your purpose.
What are a couple of hints and tricks?
Why do you exist? Understanding that truly will help massively. Make sure you are clear on your values and that everything you do is measured against them. That way you build a strong authentic culture, which research shows improves business success. (Research shows that revenue can increase by almost 700% in organisations with a strong culture).
If you’ve got two or more employees, get yourself a playbook. This is where you take your values and play them out on a daily basis. What can you expect from the organisation as an employee?
It’s the difference between having a bulky employee handbook and something that takes the company spirit.