When I started out in the world of business coaching, understanding the importance of a strong company culture did not come easily. I had always considered this aspect of building a business to be rather “fluffy” and certainly not something worth spending any time on. However, over the years, having worked with numerous businesses, I have come to learn that without a strong culture that fits with the business values and ethics of the business owner, it will be nigh on impossible to build a business that can work without you.
This recently came home to me particularly graphically, with a small family run café, which had gradually regressed over the years. The problems with the staff had become more and more pronounced, with none of the staff turning up on time, prepared to take responsibility or treat each other or the owners with respect. Naturally enough the quality of the food had dropped, the service levels were poor and consequently many of their customers had gone elsewhere.
As it happened, most of the staff who were there when I first started with the owners, quickly realised I was on to them, and left. Far from seeing this as a negative, this has given us the chance to re-hire a whole new set of staff, and the atmosphere and results have immediately been positive. However, the importance of imposing a new culture is huge. They need to get all the new staff to sign up to all the things that they see as important, such as timelines, cleanliness, attitude, honesty and respect. If they do that now, and make this way of behaving the “norm”, they will have a business which will grow, and one for which they can be proud. They will no longer have to watch over every aspect of the