How to Reveal the Barriers to Business Success Concealed Within Your Culture

Business success is achievable, even in these uncertain times.

Are you seeing the anatomy of your corporate culture from all angles?

You’re seeking business success…but are you really examining all the influences that don’t elevate, but rather drop weight on, your company?

What’s keeping your business on a flat – or worse yet downward spiraling – performance trajectory? Why did you lose momentum? And why do you have so much turnover in staff, at all levels of your organization?

These questions can be answered…if you’re committed to understanding your company culture.

Learning to yield.

Your culture exists either by design or default, so how much effort are you putting into the design when it comes to all the stakeholders?

Think of going through this exercise as acknowledging your corporate YIELD sign. It has three sides, and it’s there to remind you to slow down and look at all the impediments that might get in your way before you try to advance…and avoid a crash.

I’m talking about the three sides of your corporate culture:

  • Your employee’s experience.
  • Your customer’s experience.
  • Your supplier’s experience.

Your suppliers?! That’s right. Your suppliers are interacting with your company and making decisions about your business. It’s vital that you put them in the mix when you’re doing a values assessment.

Let’s start with your employees, though. I’ve talked about this before…the disconnect between an “engagement survey” and a “values survey” of your team.

An engagement survey tells you if your entire team – either in one of your offices or working remotely imagining, designing, engineering, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, and delivering your product – knows the “who, what, when, where, and how” of your company.

Values assessments tell you if the entire team understands “why”…and that’s crucial. That sense of common purpose, the understanding, and appreciation of an end goal is what strengthens every link in your company’s chain.

This is particularly important with so many employees working remotely. Chances are you can’t pop by their cubicle, tap on their office door, or sit in on a sales or technical meeting in order to ‘touch base’ right now. They’re in their living rooms or dining rooms or dens, doing their best to focus on work in an environment that used to be their refuge from work. Possibly with some kids bouncing off the walls in the background…

If they don’t have a firm grasp on the “why” of their work, well…it will be hard to maintain the high standards you envision for your company.

Looking forward to Improving Your Corporate Culture with Carol Ring

Is the customer really king?

In short, yes. But if you want to see real business success, you have to acknowledge that your suppliers are royalty, too.

First though, how do your customers give you feedback? You probably have a follow-up survey that appears as a link in an email or as a request at the bottom of an invoice. They contain questions about the nuts-and-bolts of the service your company has provided.

  • Did our technician arrive on time?
  • Was our technician friendly?
  • Did s/he complete the service to your satisfaction?
  • Would you recommend our product or service to a friend?

From a customer service perspective, these are valid questions. But how have you mined information about the perception of your brand? A values-based survey will give you insight into that aspect of your culture, and how it’s perceived by the people who are on your front line. It’s important for you to engage your existing customers in this dialogue.

Be prepared to get some feedback that surprises or disappoints you…and possibly makes you question how well you’re conveying the “why” of your corporate vision. The point is to learn from the negative feedback while making an effort to celebrate the positive.

Your suppliers are people, too.

In our ongoing quest to capture customers, make a sale, and build our profit margins, we forget that our suppliers are doing the same thing. And when a company doesn’t acknowledge that mutual necessity your brand suffers. But when you’re looking at the whole “yield sign” your brand can flourish…

Here’s an example:

I was working for a large tech company undergoing an “upgrade” in accounts payable software. There were hurdles to clear, to say the least. One of our contractors went almost a month without a paycheque…he ordinarily got paid weekly.

He was taking a hit on his cashflow and the trickle-down effects on his business – his employees, his suppliers – were considerable. I viewed him as a business partner, though, and made the effort to cut him a manual cheque and hand it to him personally.

It was months later when he told me that decision I had made had galvanized his commitment to serve us to the best of his ability. We were partners.

Are you in partnerships with your suppliers, or are they anonymous businesses that simply provide a service and then disappear off your radar?

Shareholders and stakeholders are people, too.

Financial yields: the often misunderstood and underappreciated necessity of your business. There are people behind the scenes who have invested in your business. Are you honouring their commitment to you and working to the best of your ability to deliver competitive dividends?

We know that over 80% of C-Suite leaders think their organizational culture is key to their success…to maximizing their financial yield. And yet, under 40% think their corporation is missing the mark. They’re drifting past the YIELD sign without looking at all the angles that will lead them to success.

There’s never been a better time to launch a conversation with your entire team…to explore your corporate culture. I can help you start that conversation and get to the root of your organization’s values, ones that encompass your employees, your customers, your suppliers, and your stakeholders.

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about how you can start learning…together we can ignite your corporate culture.

Did you enjoy this article? You might find these helpful as well.

How to Define Corporate Culture – Demystify the Way Work Gets Done in Your Organization
How to Effectively Measure Organizational Culture and Culture Change
The Impact of Culture on Mergers and Acquisitions

This article was originally published in December 2016 and was updated in June 2020.

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