The success of every organization relies in large part on the organization’s beliefs and how those beliefs are upheld through its culture and standards. Culture unites and creates a strong bond that keeps people together and focused. Here are some examples:
If your organization has a strong belief in quality and delivering quality products and services, then the culture must support it. Leadership decisions must be made upon this belief. I remember working with a printing company that made a slight color error on the brochure for a client company’s logo. It was such a slight difference that most people would not notice the difference, but the president of the printing company refused to the let the brochure out the company door. He called the client, apologized for the error, redid the entire order, and gave a discount for being a day late in getting the corrected order to the client. By these actions, everyone in the printing company knew the president was serious about doing the job correctly and no errors would be tolerated. The printing company is still doing well today because clients keep referring them to other new clients. There is a trust level established in their culture.
If your organization has a strong belief in safety, then the culture must support it. The belief needs to be upheld by continuous focus and awareness of safety. Procedures, systems, and rules should be established and everyone must be held accountable to following them. No exceptions allowed.
If your organization has a strong belief in service, then the culture must make it very clear of the importance of giving great service, establish service standards, and then ensure everyone knows how to apply the service standards to their jobs. Telling stories of WOW service, giving recognition for great service, engaging employees for their input on how to delight customers are all excellent ways to reinforce the culture of service. Customer service must not be perceived as an either/or choice, an add-on to one’s job, but that customer service IS one’s job. It is the culture.
A strong culture is the cornerstone and foundation for all great companies. Think of Southwest Airlines, Chick Fil A, American Express, Nordstrom, Apple, USAA, Walt Disney World – all have very distinct but clear service excellence cultures. Employees want to feel a connection to a higher purpose. They want to have a meaning for their job tasks. These can be shared this by identifying your organization beliefs in the interview process, reinforcing through the on-boarding process, including in all training, and then ensuring continuous communication followed by recognition and appreciation. These actions will weave the beliefs into your organization’s DNA to create and solidify the culture you want and sustain it for years to come.