No matter how smart you are, no matter how brilliant or innovative your business model, no matter how talented your staff, or how much money you have to promote your business, if you fail to communicate well, you will not succeed. Just remember, communication is a two-way conversation, it is not one person talking while every else is tuning out.
Identify your company’s mission then communicate it effectively. Make sure every one knows it, can recite it, teach it and live by it consistently. Invite feedback and discussion, make your employees part of the process so they feel they own the end result.
Once this is established, make sure the channels of communication remain open for your employees to share their feelings and contributions to other aspects of the business from the smallest decisions to the future direction of the company.
When your communication channels are always open, be explicit. Steer clear of hype, exaggeration and try to quantify your goals with facts that can be measured and results evaluated impartially. Example: Rather than say we’re going to be the fastest growing company in our market segment, it is far better to say, our goal is to open 100 new accounts and increase sales 35% in the next quarter. We’re going to accomplish this by increasing our advertising budget by $100,000, hire five new salespeople and lower our prices 5% because of the savings we recently incurred when we changed suppliers.
This type of clear communication shouldn’t be limited to just your employees, it must be communicated just as clearly and specifically to your affiliates.
All employees must understand and embrace the company’s culture and why it’s important. To reinforce this, you should reward employees who advance the company’s culture and offer further instruction to those who don’t.
Instill in your employees the need to understand and embrace the company’s culture or your culture will be merely empty, meaningless words on a mission statement.
As the company grows and develops, its culture will keep it on track, attract the best prospects and have them make decisions that will ensure the company’s success and prevent your company from making poor or confusing decisions and morphing into something you don’t recognize.
Leaders must recognize that building and molding your culture is a constant battle of surveillance, implementation, measurement and evaluation. You must develop a culture that recognizes and embraces shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs so your organization operates cohesively, consistently and with less supervision.
Establishing the culture you strive to achieve means having a clear vision of knowing exactly how you’d want everyone, inside and outside the company to view your company.
A good place to begin is with your co-founders or Board of Directors or Board of Advisers to write down what the company’s core values are and how you plan to instill them into the core of your team’s values. To have your team adopt the culture it’s important that entrepreneurs represent it from the company’s inception. You must make it a lifestyle, not just a vision.
How to Ensure Your Employees Know Your Company’s Mission and Values
Write it down, make sure they read it and then test them periodically to make sure they follow it.
Make sure your employees are passionate about your company’s mission and values. If they are, then they will also be passionate to accomplishing your company’s goals.
Unfortunately, the only way to know if an employee is truly supportive of the values and mission of your company is to observe their work over an extended period of time. This is why it is highly recommended that all new hires go through a probationary period before committing to a long-term contract.
Too often, to too many employees, either from their point of view or management’s, they’re just filing a job as a stepping-stone to who knows where? Not only are those employees not coming close to their potential, they are lowering the bar so no one else does either.
When this happens, there are two different actions you can take to improve the situation. The first should always be to determine the cause. Is it due to poor communication on the part of management or lack of motivation on the part of the employee?
Once you determine that, your second action should be pretty obvious.
When employees understand and believe in the company’s mission, it empowers them because they are confident in the company’s management and direction and they know what’s required of them.
At regularly established periods, all employees should review all the key metrics of the business. It is imperative that employees feel they have a hand in shaping the company’s culture. When they do, they are much more likely to understand the company’s goals and strategies and will feel their ideas and feedback are welcome and appreciated, regardless of their place in the company’s hierarchy.
A simple, but effective way to do this is to select a specific time, perhaps twice a month, where all employees can participate in a company call where everyone is free to participate and ask questions.
Depending on your culture that is currently in place, some of your employees may feel intimidated. If this is the case, you should develop an alternative forum where employees can ask questions anonymously.
This article was originally published on Franklin’s website. He’s currently writing a mini-series titled: Company Culture. Stop by often for the latest installment or visit his website to read the archives.