1. Business

Is Your Business Culture Intentional or By Default?

Intro by Skip Cohen

There’s so much outstanding content on the Internet, especially in the archives of some the great business leaders in the photographic community.

In this post about your culture by Beverly Walden, she got me thinking about how many of you have just allowed the culture of your business to evolve without any direction. You haven’t cared for it, nurtured it or for that matter pruned it either.

In the last section of this post, Beverly shares seven tips you should consider in building the culture of your business. And, don’t short change yourself because you’re a one-person operation. Even a solo pilot has support people to help keep the plane in the air and on the right flight path.

Remember you’ve got support at your lab, your camera dealer, the associations you belong to, other artists you work with and the list goes on and on regarding the core group of people in your network. You have an opportunity to set the pace and better define your business for yourself, employees, outside vendors and yes, even your clients.

Have you ever noticed when you go into Starbucks, from Atlanta to Savannah to Denver, their employees all have a baseline of similar behavior, fashion styles and age? What about going into an Apple store? Could you pick out their staff from customers if they weren’t wearing their Apple shirts? The answer is yes to both of these questions! It has always intrigued me as to why and how, so I thought I would investigate it a little for this article.

Standing in the new Apple store at our mall, as I looked around and saw how everyone was dressed, their average age, how they acted and what they said and did, I told Tim, “This is like a culture!” He agreed. In the broad sense, one could use this definition I found online.

“Culture is defined as the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and effective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization. These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group.”

You may ask what relevance it has to your business and my answer would be it is highly relevant! Every business has a culture, whether you formed it or it has been formed for you by the marketplace and their perception of your business or organization.

What is yours? How do you control the development of the culture of your business? Why should you care?

When done well, building a culture unites an entire business, its owners and its staff with the same vision and purpose. When this happens, and everyone has a single, focused direction, “magic” happens and the experience level that can be offered to those coming into the business or organization is astronomical!

It also unites all of the employees and makes them feel part of a very exclusive “club” all marching in the same direction with the same goals and targets in mind. Unity is powerful in both your private life as well as your business life.

“We are only strong when we are united, and weak when we are divided.”

J.K. Rowling (and tweaks by Bev)

Let’s explore some of the ways we can build a culture within our businesses:

  1. Have a solid vision of what you want your business or organization to look like so that you can pass it on in a clear and concise manner.
  2. Keep it simple and easy to understand for all those employed now and in the future.
  3. Make sure everyone buys into the culture and vision you are setting. If someone doesn’t buy in, it won’t work. They must see the value in your efforts.
  4. Can it be measured? It needs to be measured as much as possible in order to evaluate its success.
  5. Train and coach constantly. Take every opportunity to correct, inspire and thank those who are learning.
  6. Have everyone take ownership of the culture and provide feedback as to how it can improve.
  7. Recognize and reward performance to build motivation.

About.com says,

“Company culture is important because it can make or break your company. Companies with an adaptive culture that is aligned to their business goals routinely outperform their competitors. Some studies report the difference at 200% or more. To achieve results like this for your organization, you have to figure out what your culture is, decide what it should be, and move everyone toward the desired culture.”

Some other things that have helped us develop our culture are:

  • Create a Mission Statement
  • Employees we hire must adapt to our belief system and culture.
  • We have the utmost integrity in our workplace where employees can feel comfortable.
  • Leadership is strong with no compromise.
  • We are always looking to take it up a level by attending classes and studying.
  • We trust each other.

Take time today to review your mission, vision and values and make sure your company culture supports them.