Four Ways To Create A Winning Company Culture
by David Villa, CEO of IPD
I’ve been a CEO for nearly 20 years, and whenever anyone asks me what’s the most important thing I’ve learned about building successful companies, I answer with two words: company culture. Leadership is about what you do, not what you say, and a healthy company culture is evidence of a leader who understands how important this truly is to the sustained growth of any organization.
Does your company have good DNA? Your “DNA” refers to how you Develop Natural Alignment — how you build a strong, positive corporate culture in the modern business world. When a company has a great culture, they are hands-down more productive. And when a business is more productive, that means it is working faster; and when it works faster, it can get a leg up on the competition. When I began to focus on the importance of culture, I realized that employees started to care about our organization’s purpose rather than simply a paycheck. I learned that employees who are convinced of a larger common goal are people who are excited to be part of a larger purpose.
When your corporate DNA is healthy, every component of your business moves forward in harmony. Rather than existing in separate, uncommunicative silos, your team members work together toward a common purpose. Through trial and error, I’ve found these four points helpful in creating company culture that lasts, all while creating a culture that wins.
1. Unleash Innovation
Every stellar idea is born of innovation, but how do you foster an innovative environment? First, ask your team members. Challenge the individuals who work in your business day in and day out to uncover new and better ways to do things. What are better methods for pleasing customers? Your employees are close to the action and are most likely to spot opportunities for innovation; often, they just need some encouragement to get those ideas out in the open.
Next, set up regular brainstorming meetings in which you generate multiple product ideas. Involve a diverse group of people from different teams and different areas of your company, and stress that all ideas are welcome. For now, you simply want to get people thinking.
Finally, streamline your team meetings. Clearly state the reason for the meeting in advance, then make sure all participants know the agenda and how they should prepare. Everyone in your company needs to be on the same page.
2. Develop a Clear Mission and Vision
At the heart of every great company is a clear sense of purpose. Young people just entering the workforce want to understand your company’s values. They’re looking for a culture of purpose. To develop core beliefs, values and customs, your company leaders must commit to a shared vision that has an impact beyond your company. Where culture and purpose meet, you’ll find the most vibrant, successful companies of the modern era.
Your corporate culture starts with you — the leader. Creating a mission statement is an opportunity to lay out your vision and goals for making sound decisions. The best mission statements define a company’s goals in at least three dimensions:
- How the company serves its customers.
- How the company meets its employees’ needs.
- What the company does for its owners.
Top companies’ mission statements also extend to include fourth and fifth dimensions: how the company contributes to the local community, and to the world.
3. Win the Battle for Talent
How can you attract more than your fair share of the top talent in your field? It takes a lot more than money; the best people are motivated by passion.
That’s not to say money isn’t important; of course people care about it. But if motivation was only about making money, the best people would bail out as soon as they realized they could make more elsewhere. Something else drives them to carry on, even in the face of adversity. Many of the most talented workers switch their focus from the external to their own personal growth and happiness.
People do their best work when they’re passionately engaged. Passions provide us with purpose in our work, but they also give us purpose in our lives. They make us feel that we’re on the right path in life and give us hope for a happy and exciting future.
4. Embrace your Frontline “Culture Ambassadors”
Your company’s “culture ambassadors” are those who care most about your mission and values and are willing to communicate them with passion. They’re crucial for fostering strong work cultures that retain key employees and attract top talent. They can show you how to move forward by rethinking strategies, reinventing approaches to innovation, reconnecting with customers and rediscovering the power that employees have to lead the charge toward positive change.
Keep People at the Center
You’re in an industry that is, at its heart, about people, so it should go without saying that good people skills are a must for your company. Build healthy corporate DNA — or Develop Natural Alignment — by getting clear on your mission and vision, encouraging innovation, attracting and retaining talented team members, and creating an environment in which your “culture ambassadors” can thrive.