Every entrepreneur I know is constantly striving to do better, whether that means improving efficiency, increasing profitability, feeling more fulfilled or delivering better products to our clients. But it doesn't stop with our customers—we're also on the hunt for new and better ways of inspiring and influencing staff, and for making our company a better place to work.
But the danger is that we're bombarded by advice—some great, some less-than-great. We could spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying out new strategies and failing simply because we're just throwing everything against the wall and hoping something sticks.
Take the topic of cultivating your company culture. You could do it because you think you should, because everyone else is doing it. Or you could realize that your company's culture is one of your very best opportunities for inspiring and influencing your staff.
1. Ask yourself, "What do I hope to accomplish?"
In any business initiative, I've found I'm most successful when I identify my goals—that is, the outcomes I'm looking to achieve. Explicitly tying culture to outcomes can help make the importance clear and raise the stakes for everyone involved.
Why do we care about company culture? Because it can help us accomplish our big-picture goals. I think company culture—when it's tied to outcomes like improving customer satisfaction or developing a brand—is perhaps the most powerful way of inspiring and influencing staff.
It's important to have your employees in on the plan. Inspiring and influencing your staff starts with making sure you're all working toward the same goals and using practical, proven strategies to help you get there.
2. Articulate those goals.
You can't achieve 'em if you don't articulate 'em.
Inspiring and influencing staff begins with a common purpose. If every one of your employees can rattle off your company's goals, then you're doing it right.
Part of your company's culture is that thing that brings you all together—what you're all working together to achieve. When you're inspiring and influencing staff, try to get everyone focused on what you want to achieve by articulating those goals.
I believe in making goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely). It's fine to start with a more general outcome, something like “I want to improve customer satisfaction" or “I want to do a better job of brand building." But try not to stop there—try finding a way to measure things like brand building and customer satisfaction, and then set specific, attainable goals.
You can then bake those goals into everything you do.
3. Connect your culture with your brand and your employees.
Sure, you can hire a fancy, expensive marketing firm to help with branding or rebranding your business.
But some of the best, most effective brand building is founded on authenticity. Your brand is you. It's your employees. It's your customers, and it's also how your staff works together to deliver great service.
So culture isn't just about what goes on inside your business. It's about how you bring products and services to market. It's how you do what you do. If inspiring and influencing staff is part of your plan, then helping your employees see how they fit into your culture is vital.
Culture is an inextricable part of your brand. Nurturing your culture, and making it positive and healthy is also part of feeding your brand.
4. Eliminate silos and roadblocks by cross-training your teams.
We've decided we want to deliver better customer experiences. We know that cultivating a healthy company culture can help us achieve that goal. We've set some SMART goals. What is the next practical step we can take in terms of culture and our hope of inspiring and influencing staff?
Few things upset a customer quicker than being told, “That's not my department." Cross-training your staff accomplishes two major goals. It helps each employee take greater ownership of overall customer satisfaction and it gives your staff a fuller understanding of what their colleagues contribute to the cause.
Employee roles aren't one-size-fits-all, but mixing up teams, roles and responsibilities can help build a more cohesive culture. If the outcome you're going for is "more efficient and better service," fostering a collaborating culture can help get you there.
5. Track engagement.
Just like any other goal, if you can't measure it, how will you know you're accomplishing anything?
If you've established inspiring and influencing staff as one of your goals, you've got to find a way to determine whether or not you're successful.
You could simply use your gut instinct, of course, but there are some fantastic tools that can give you a fuller picture of how engaged your staff is. Apps can give you powerful tools to solicit, collect, track and analyze employee feedback. Some to consider:
Just as you need ways to assess customer satisfaction, growing a healthy company culture means assessing employee engagement and satisfaction.
Read more articles on company culture.