THE BLOG

The Key to Business Success

07/02/2014 02:34 pm ET | Updated Sep 01, 2014

2014-07-02-happy_staff.jpgA culture is the values and practices shared by the members of the group. Company culture therefore, is the shared values and practices of the company's employees.

Companies sink or swim based on their internal culture. One bad hire can have a huge effect on morale, productivity, and ultimately, the bottom line. It can make or break your company.

This little catchall buzzword, has only recently become in-vogue with the modern executive. Maybe this is because creating a successful office culture lacks the concreteness of, say, managing finances or launching an advertising campaign, or maybe it is a result of those in charge simply refusing to recognize the importance of it.

Companies with an adaptive culture that are aligned to their business goals routinely outperform their competitors. Some studies report the difference at 200 percent or more.

To gain a deeper understanding into this topic I recently spoke with Frank Cuilui the ex co-founder of Velteo. A company which focused on integrating culture with process and technology for sales and service improvement.

Velteo's high performance culture was recognized as second to none and was the critical element to its success. With less than 30 employees Velteo's most often outperformed and out competed some of its biggest competitors.

Along the way Velteo received industry awards, deployed projects to some of the largest organizations in the country and gained international attention which ultimately helped him reach an exit 4 years later when he sold the company to an overseas competitor.

"We often hear the famous Peter Drucker quote "Culture eats Strategy for breakfast" and I am a true believer of this. It's not that I don't value the need for strategy, in fact I have worked with many enterprises on Strategies that cover new product development, winning deals, and entering new markets -- but without the right culture (which is about people), even the best strategy will fail.

You can argue that Culture is just one piece of the strategic jigsaw puzzle and this would be a fair approach. In my opinion though Culture has to be a unique focus that has meaning and provides the framework of how your organisation executes everything from servicing customers, to internal HR processes.

Companies spend too much time in developing and monitoring KPI's to manage employee behavior. If you have values aligned people, being led by values aligned leaders, you won't need to manage people as they will manage themselves... you just need to turn up and keep them inspired." Frank explains.

This is just one example of how staff culture can have a huge impact on your bottom line and overall business performance. It's not a nice to have it's a must have if you want to build a successful business.

In my opinion great cultures are built through the day-to-day relationships that employees experience, not a checklist of programmes and benefits. And the key factor in common in these relationships is TRUST. From the Employee's perspective, a great workplace is one where they:

-- TRUST the people they work for;
-- Have PRIDE in what they do; and
-- ENJOY the people they work with.

Trust is the defining principle of great workplaces -- created through management's credibility, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly. The degree of pride and levels of authentic connection and camaraderie employees feel with one are additional essential components.

Creating a successful culture is not easy and it does take a fair bit of fine tuning to ensure all staff, customers and shareholders are all aligned to the purpose and vision of the company going forward.

Below Frank shares 5 things you can start implementing into your business right now in order to build a more successful staff culture:

1) Define the core values which you will align everything else too.
Make sure that these cascade into every part of how you run and operate the business. From HR Policy to managing expenses

2) Walk the talk. Culture is expressed through the language and behaviours of everyone in the business. No one should be excluded from this rule - from the CEO to the Janitor.. be prepared to lose people along the way

3)Review how you reward people for contribution. Don't create individual stars but promote winning teams

4)Invest in people: Invest into people on a personal level not just a professional level

5)Investigate: Take a real good look into the current state of the business to determine your current level of cultural maturity. From People & Process to Systems and Technology - It is important to know where you are before you decide how you will get to where you want to go.