The following excerpt is from franchise expert Mark Siebert’s book The Multiplier Model. Buy it now.
One of the similarities many great companies have in common is a strong corporate culture and leadership structure. They have established core values of the brand — and those values actually mean something.
When starting a business, it can be all too easy to consider your culture as an afterthought. You are busy enough with the day-to-day tasks that need to get done just to keep the lights on.
But as you grow, defining and systematizing that corporate culture becomes increasingly important to develop a sustainable company.
A lack of culture can be poisonous
Over the course of my career, I have been involved with companies that have built a great culture as well as companies that have failed to do so. And unfortunately, when a company fails to create its own corporate culture, the internal culture often turns toxic.
Those toxic corporate cultures can manifest themselves in many ways. Low productivity. High levels of turnover. Poor morale. No sense of team spirit or pride in workmanship. Disharmony among employees. All of this will ultimately lead to poor performance and low quality of work—which will ultimately be reflected in a poor customer experience.
Leadership can make or break culture
A number of things contribute to a toxic culture, but at the top of the list is always leadership. Leaders who are short on praise, trust, and transparency tend to engender these toxic environments. So in your efforts to systematize a healthy corporate culture, you must be careful to avoid developing an environment that leads to micromanagement.
So how do you go about systematizing culture?
Despite what some people may think, it’s not as simple as buying a ping pong table and choosing an open floor plan. It has to start at the top. And everyone in management must continually promote the culture to their team. The fastest way to kill a company’s culture is to see leaders who do not embrace and model it themselves.
Define your values
Before systematizing your culture, you must define organizational goals and values:
- What do you want your company to stand for?
- What do you want to achieve as a business?
Define them as clearly as possible in a way that will allow you to easily communicate them — again and again— to the people you hire.
Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, once famously said, “If I had a brick for every time I’ve repeated the phrase ‘Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value,’ I think I’d probably be able to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with them.”
Constant repetition will institutionalize these standards. But only when you find your employees extolling the importance of these brand standards to new hires will you know that these values have become a part of your corporate DNA.
Focus on personality
Perhaps the most important aspect of instituting a corporate culture involves the people with whom you choose to surround yourself: your employees, your contractors and your franchisees (should you choose to go that route).
Your decisions regarding people will, more than any other, influence how the world sees your company, as they will represent your brand to the world.
In other words, your people are the raw materials of your culture. Hire the wrong people, and you are destined to fail. And if you find that you have the wrong people, do not let them infect your organization. If they do not fit, move on from them as fast as you can.
Create action out of your cultural system
Once you have gotten the values and the people right, it is your job to systematize theinculcation of those values. And while simple repetition may seem like enough, if you want to be sure that they become a part of your corporate DNA, you will need to translate them into action.
This is the genetics of success: It’s not about developing and enforcing policy. It’s about bringing habit into your organization until it becomes a part of your brand.
By the time an employee has been with the organization for a while, they no longer have to think about how to react in a particular situation. It becomes reflexive.
Get started with The Multiplier Model
Going from small business to successful startup to scalable growth takes more than just good luck. It takes a system. Over the last 34 years, franchising consultant and growth expert Mark Siebert has been sought out by more than 70,000 executives looking to expand their companies. Out of those 70,000, only 5,000 had the right systems in place to go from successful to scalable. In The Multiplier Model, Siebert discusses the factors that determine if an entrepreneur is ready to scale their venture — and the best ways to get started. Read more.