12 Critical Components of a Successful Work Culture
A good friend once told me,
“We use culture as the tool to transfer vision to our employees. That’s how we create innovation from the bottom up”
In Keith Cunninghams' book, “The Road Less Stupid,” he explains that most people think of good company culture as having the fridge stocked with Gatorade and a foosball table in the back room. These, however important, have more to do with perks than actual culture.
- 65% of people would choose a good culture over a pay increase.
- Companies with a strong employee culture are 202% more profitable than similar companies with a poor employee culture.
- An excellent motivational program boosts performance by 44%.
While perks can attract new employees, culture helps them be faithful to your company for the long haul.
Culture is what helps your employees feel:
- Safe — that their co-workers and boss care more about looking out for each other than getting a leg up
- Safe — that they can express their thoughts without backlash or criticism
- Safe — that they can make changes and innovations without losing their job security
Useful tools for creating a solid culture include a clear and focused vision from the top-down, predictable and frequent accountability, predictable systems, and processes. Perks and gamification can be good tools, but only when used to supplement a good culture, not as a substitute for one.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a fantastic entrepreneur. It was easy to buy into his vision for the future and passion for change. He hired me to evaluate his company and help them define their culture.
While the company had a strong vision for the future, they had gone through difficult experiences that built up resistance to change, delegation, innovation, and creativity. Rather than solve problems on their own, they consistently complained to each other and used the CEO as a tool to resolve their conflicts with clients and co-workers.
The CEO was overworked, exhausted, and found it impossible to focus on the company’s future. That’s where I came in.
With the leadership team and the CEO, I drafted a culture document with 12 critical components to their culture. We held a company-wide gathering where the CEO presented these points and why they were important to him. During lunch, I heard one employee comment,
“This is why I wanted to work here! I applied so many times over the past few years and finally got in.”
For the first time, I saw the employees laughing and getting excited about the future.
We made it a priority to hold local quarterly events to focus priorities around the established culture.
Also, new hires would sit down with the CEO or their manager to discuss the importance of each point.
6-months later, and the company was reaching record-breaking production, and their social media presence skyrocketed. However, my favorite moment was when the CEO took a 2-week vacation without receiving a call from any of his locations. He hadn’t been able to take a break in years. He was shocked and a little worried. When he got home, his regional manager said,
“Yeah, some major problems came up, but we figured it out on our own.”
A phenomenal company culture is within your reach.
You don’t even have to be the CEO.
One employee has the potential to lift an entire company to a new level.
You’ve got this.
12 Critical Components to Our Company Culture
1) Begin With the Positive
“We are always more focused on what’s working than what’s not working.” — Dan Sullivan
Being positive doesn’t just make you better; it makes everyone around you better. When you begin with a positive focus, you immediately feel a boost of confidence. Confidence isn’t passively felt; it’s built. That’s why we start our meetings and our days with a positive focus.
2) Activate Your Individuality
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”- Oscar Wilde
Activating your individuality means being the very best version of yourself: the most energized, motivated, empowered, refreshing, fun, and unique version of you. This happens when your talents and your passions align. You should activate your individuality at least once a day. This is the way to create consistent, high-quality results.
3) Call Your Shots
“They say time changes things, but actually, you have to change them yourself.” -Andy Warhol
Calling your shots means that you are 100% intentional about your use of time, money, marketing, and the development of their talents and capabilities. Success isn’t accidental. You can always look back and identify the critical steps that brought you there. Before you start an endeavor, take time to envision yourself having successfully achieved it. You can predict critical steps and make sure those steps happen.
4) Refine Frontstage and Backstage
“What you don’t see backstage is really what controls the show” — Sarah Sutton
“We use our backstage capabilities to make our frontstage presentation a uniquely positive experience” — Dan Sullivan. Frontstage refers to everything that the client sees, while backstage refers to everything else. You can refine your backstage capabilities to make frontstage a uniquely positive experience for our team and our clients.
5) Rest for Impact
“It’s how I bombed my first year of college: no sleep and a steady diet of top ramen” — Dori Hill
Come to work with batteries charged and ready to go. When you come to work well-rested, you create more value for your team, prioritize better, and are more innovative. This is why we have strict rules about not working on holidays, weekends, or after hours. Make your days off a non-negotiable priority.
6) Respect Everyone
“The minute you start keeping score, you’re destroying the relationship” — Tony Robbins
Respect everyone. On the surface, respect ties back to the Strategic Coach’s referability habits: show up on time, do what you say, finish what you start, and say please and thank you. On a deeper level, it involves listening to others and feeling what they might be feeling. As an organization, we respect your goals, insights, and decisions.
7) Lifetime Growth
“He who is not busy being born is busy dying” — Bob Dillan
You have the opportunity and ability to impact your growth and the growth of your team. Growth happens when you continually “make your future bigger than your past” — Dan Sullivan. That means that you make commitments before you have the capabilities to ensure success. New responsibilities lead to new capabilities, and that is the process of lifetime growth.
8) Be Open
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” — Brené Brown
Complete openness is the first step to innovation. When something is hard, annoying, or frustrating, please write it down! As a company, we constantly want to innovate and eliminate those things. We encourage team members to acknowledge their shortcomings and own their mistakes openly.
9) Work Yourself Into a Job
“Do one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time” — Oprah Winfrey
Never be afraid of “working yourself out of a job” simplifying or automating processes. Rather, you are “working yourself into a job.” You are supported in your efforts to innovate, automate, and systematize time-consuming tasks. You are also encouraged to delegate responsibilities and ask for help. We applaud, cultivate, and seek proactive problem solvers, even if they fail along the way. This builds the capabilities of those around them and frees them to “activate their individuality” more frequently in the office.
10) Work as a Team
“Always make your contribution greater than your status” — Dan Sullivan
We treat each position as if it’s its own company and each employee as if they are at the head of that company. That makes your coworkers your clients, and they “hire” you to do specific things to help our clients. This means that you can re-define the mission statement so that you “take pride in providing comprehensive work [for your client-coworkers] on a personal level with unparalleled integrity… exceed [their] expectations… provide the very best [you have] to offer in all aspects… As a result, [your client-coworkers will be] loyal, satisfied, informed, and confident that their best interests are being attended to” — The Company Mission Statement.
11) Grow Your Appreciation
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Expressing appreciation for those around you is scientifically proven to improve your well-being. It reduces your blood pressure, lessens your chronic pain, increases your desire to help others, and improves your self-esteem. We believe that our ability to feel gratitude for others has an infinite potential for growth.
12) Zero Defense Budget
“Direct your anger towards problems — not people. Focus your energies on answers — not excuses” — William Ward
Have a “zero defense budget.” This is the time and energy you spend thinking or worrying about how to defend yourself at work. When the individuals and the company stand by our mission, core values, and culture, the need for a defense budget is eliminated. You can spend all your time and energy achieving results, collaborating, and creating solutions.