Apple, REI, Walt Disney, Nordstrom, Starbucks…
When you walk into any of these businesses you immediately feel their company culture. It hits you the moment you step inside. It’s in the way their team members greet you, their level of service and the subtle behaviors you might not even notice.
All of these companies take their cultures seriously. They make trust, transparency, respect and pride all non-negotiable, and these qualities get mirrored in their customer-facing interactions.
How can you tune-up your company’s culture to be like these powerhouse brands?
- Embrace transparency. Share your company’s goals and priorities, so that everyone is on the same page. Encourage dialogue so that every voice is heard and respected. Keep the lines of communication open — a practice that starts at the top.
- Empower the team. Don’t micro-manage. Trust team members to do their jobs and create a culture where it’s OK to fail as long as you’re learning and adjusting.
- Reinforce the company’s purpose and core values. Repeat them often, and recognize and reward team members who are living them out. Hire for values, and don’t hesitate to fire the offenders.
- Say thank you. Never miss an opportunity to show appreciation. It reinforces the positive behavior.
- Encourage learning and personal development. Invest in your team members and encourage their personal and professional growth. Celebrate their creativity and innovation.
In my many years as CEO of Shelter Mortgage, I worked hard to create and maintain a healthy, vibrant company culture, where team members felt empowered and supported. We were deliberate every step of the way, making our team and our partners part of the “family” as we scaled the company. Our culture clearly gave us a competitive advantage and the brand identity we needed, and most importantly, we shared this success with our entire team.
So, where do you start? You don’t need an Apple or Starbucks-sized budget, but you do need vision, leadership and commitment. This is the secret ingredient which will unlock the potential in your team to take the company to the next level.