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Growing your business with your people - step 2: be clear about your values

11 February 2021

Here we look at the importance of building a culture in your growing business.

As a business owner in a growing organisation, there are lots of different areas to juggle — can we make more sales? What’s profitability like? Have we been paid for work done, or what we’ve supplied?

In these situations, it’s very easy to become focused on any number of operational challenges. But one area that is crucial to business success, no matter what happens in the market, is a great team culture.

And it’s an area that’s often overlooked.

As the business grows, and in particular if it grows quickly, culture can easily become diluted.

Culture is important, it’s the essence of your business. Often described as “the ways things are done around here”, it is intangible. Culture refers to the beliefs and behaviours that determine how everyone in the business interacts.

It’s reflected in how you interact with clients, how employees work with each other and the behaviours of people across the organisation.

People who align themselves with your culture are likely to be more motivated, more engaged and therefore more productive.

In fact, a Harvard Business Review article (“A Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture” Jan-Feb 2018) said, when aligned with strategy and leadership, a strong culture helps drive positive organisational outcomes.

You are therefore more likely to achieve your business objectives, attract the right people to your business and create a thriving working environment if you’ve got a good handle on your culture.

How it evolves

In the early days a culture often just happens.

Employees who join early on are likely to be people you know, and most likely have the same mindset as you. They’ll also likely share the same values.

So how do you capture the culture so that ensure it continues to be the “way things are done around here?” and woven into everything you do.

The way to articulate your culture is via your values.

We all have our own personal values, even if we haven’t spent time thinking about them and they determine our decision making. So, it makes sense for a company to articulate the way it does things to its people as well as customers and clients.

As with anything, keep it simple — less is more.

Most businesses can describe how they do things in four or five key words with short sentences.

So, spend time with your team, working out how you would describe how things are done. Does this describe how you set out on your journey? And will these values deliver your business plan?

Then use these values consistently with your people. When recruiting, when welcoming new people to your business, and how you interact on an ongoing basis. For example, during recruitment you can ask the candidate to give examples of situations when they have demonstrated the values at work.

One thing’s for sure, in such a dynamic, uncertain environment, those businesses that embed and “live” their culture seem more likely to succeed in the marketplace than those that don’t.

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