Culture Corner September/October 2018August 2nd, 2021 by Bryan
How to Build a Great Culture
By Matt Darienzo
Some of the hardest things in business sometimes are not about business at all. You could have the best profit margins in the world, run a financially successful business and still have a poor culture. Having a list of awards on the wall is great but it doesn’t mean you run a great company. Profit is important, of course, but having employees that care about the company, that support each other every day and truly enjoy coming to work is the holy grail of business success in my world.
Problem is, it’s hard. Really hard. And something that needs attention very day as you run your company. If it was as easy as a ping pong table in the office and some snacks in the break room we would all have great cultures. Culture is made up solely of the people that exist in that company. Culture is also fluid, meaning it changes with each addition and each subtraction of every employee. Adding one toxic employee can have a rippling effect throughout your company.
There are many things you can do to help create a positive culture but here are just a few.
Start From the Top
The culture of a company starts at the top. If you own your own company you are 100 percent responsible for the culture that exists whether good or bad. That means as an owner you have that control and the decisions you make will shape and define your culture for years. The way you treat your employees and the tone you set will be filtered down and employees will take cues from how you conduct yourself every day. With my business model of acquiring companies, employees are one of the biggest assets. Without getting to meet the employees before we acquire, understanding the type of owner I am working with is crucial to making a good deal because most of the time a great owner means great employees.
Don’t Make Exceptions
Typically when you have a toxic employee who is an average worker letting them go is not too difficult. You may have an employee who hits it out of the park, whether in sales, installation, etc. but he’s toxic to the culture of the company. Often times toxic employees can be overlooked because they are bringing the company so much in revenue. Although it’s hard and the company may take a hit in the short term, it is critical that the company standards apply to all employees regardless of the dollars they are producing. Short term the company may survive but long term it will produce a negative effect on all the employees and ultimately the culture of the company.
When things go wrong in business it causes us to react mostly in negative way. Our employees will feel that. If employees keep hearing negativity without any positivity it can cost you a great employee. Try to put a positive spin on a negative situation. Employees will take cues from the leader in these situations and everybody will be better equipped to handle difficult situations down the road.
Striving for a great culture is not only the right thing to do but it’s also great for business. One of my favorite sayings is, “Customers will not love a company until the employees love it first.” The culture of a company will never be perfect but being aware of your culture, conscious of the tone you want to set, and working on it daily will help to shape and define your culture for the years to come.
Matthew Darienzo is the CEO of Solar Art in Irvine, Calif.
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