Tag: culture

When did you last review your end-to-end operations and really assess how generous you are as a business? Likely never.

Generosity is an essential factor that determines the type of attachment people have to your business – and whether they’ll feel a sense of connection with you both now and into the future. It relates to not only your external relationships with clients, but equally to the relationships you are creating with your staff. Generosity begins at home, or in this case, in the business.

Today I’ve covered some of the ways you can demonstrate this culture of generosity – and why it makes good business sense to do so.

Caring for your team
You’ve no doubt heard the saying “charity begins at home”. The same applies to your business. Ask yourself: When was the last time I sat down with key members of my team and assessed how generous we are with our staff? You probably haven’t, after all you pay them, so what more do they want? As disturbing as this outdated thinking is, there are plenty of organisations that take this view to their detriment. As American leadership author Jon Gordon says, “Great leaders don’t succeed because they are great. They succeed because they bring out the greatness in others.” The same can be said of companies.

It’s likely that one of your business’ values is care for your customers. This care also must extend to your team. As marketing strategist Leo J. Bogee III advises, “Give value, give opportunities, give satisfaction, give praise, give encouragement, give joy. You’ll be shocked at the bounty that returns.” Check out my recent post on improving staff buy-in for examples of ways to show you care about your team.

The value of giving back
While caring for your team will yield happier, harder working employees, it is giving back to your customers that will generate sales and create loyal customers. Whether it’s a simple handwritten thank you note, a birthday voucher thanking your customer for their patronage, an invitation allowing them to sample a product with no strings attached, or something more elaborate, ensuring your customer feels valued is key.

According to Gartner Inc., in only a few years 89 per cent of businesses will compete first and foremost on their service delivery and customer service experience. This means that, increasingly, generosity needs to become a focus. The cardinal rule? Your generosity should always add value to your client’s experience.

Social responsibility
We know that customers are increasingly turning to companies that are good global citizens.  This is particularly true of younger generations. As Jiffy Junk LCC Managing Member Adam Butler asserts, “As businesses work hard to establish a brand identity, social responsibility and charitable support need to factor into who we say we are.”

When giving back as a company, factor your customers into your decision making. Engage your clients in a conversation to identify what social responsibility means to them, and who and what causes you should be giving to. Remember, it is never about you! Matching funds giving – where businesses match individuals’ donations – is one successful strategy that promotes giving among consumers, and highlights a culture of businesses giving back.

The power of generosity
A culture of generosity through giving back to the community and consumers can help to set your business apart, and also demonstrates the power of gratitude. One guiding rule? Ensure that what you are giving is appropriate and fits with your brand. For example, if you are a premium brand, value-adds and gifts should reflect this.

Some companies foster a culture of giving through subsidised volunteer hours for their employees. Nonprofits Source found that in the United States 60 per cent of the companies they surveyed offered paid time off for employees who volunteered with non-profits. They also found that employees who volunteered during work hours also felt a greater sense of loyalty to their employer, and developed leadership skills in the process.

Setting yourself apart
I recently wrote about my time working at The Body Shop, and the lessons I learnt from Dame Anita Roddick. The company fostered a culture of care and giving that hasn’t really been replicated on this scale since. However this culture of care and activism was a significant driver for many consumers that really set the brand apart.

Depending on your brand and clients, this culture of generosity can be represented in a variety of ways. It could be through extra product, value-adds such as free workshops, or the opportunity to try a limited release product before it launches to the market. It could be flexibility in how you deliver a service, or an invitation to a special networking event. You don’t need to spend a lot of money; what you give just needs to be seen as useful to your client.

Remember that the relationships we have with our staff and clients are like our personal relationships. If they are not nurtured and prioritised, people tend to look elsewhere. Good, loyal customers can be hard to find, so make generosity a priority for you in 2019 and beyond. Happy giving!

‘Collaboration’ has long been a buzzword in the business world.

Companies recognise that remaining relevant requires not only internal collaboration and team work, but also collaboration in the form of partnerships with other organisations.

Defined as “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing”, collaboration makes good business sense.

Consider the success of fast fashion retailer H&M’s collaborations with luxury design houses such as Balmain and Versace, or Uber and Spotify’s value-add partnership that allows you to connect your Spotify account to your Uber car’s radio.

But with great reward often comes great risk. Collaboration can be seen as a smoking gun means to achieving greater brand awareness and financial rewards based on a partnership vision that focuses too heavily on the ‘what’ – the strategy – and not enough on the ‘how’ – the tactics, or fails to adequately recognise the risks.

In these cases, the results can be disappointing. Loss of autonomy, dilution of your brand, lost time and resources, or a negative impact on your brand’s reputation, are just some of the risks.

So today I’m challenging you not to mention the ‘c’ word without first taking these six steps to determine whether you or your business are really in a position to commit to a collaboration.

Do so and you’ll be well on the way to more successful partnership opportunities that yield better results for you and your partners.

  1. Time is of the essence

The first key question you should consider is whether you have the time and resources to nurture a collaboration opportunity. You should consider the potential drain on company resources, both in terms of the number of hours key staff would likely spend on such a partnership, and upfront financial costs. Remember that the drain on financial and company resources is often greater than expected.

  1. Identify your processes

Before entering into any external collaborations or partnerships, you should identify your processes for critiquing the value of your collaboration. Ask: what am I seeking to get out of the partnership first and foremost? Once you know this, you’ll be able to deduce how best to measure this  – whether it be greater brand awareness, a spike in sales of a particular product or service, or customer satisfaction levels.

  1. Leverage your strengths

When negotiating any partnership, be sure to know your strengths. Consider both your access to knowledge and people. For example, you may have a small team, but you could have expert specialised knowledge that is particularly valuable to a potential partner. Alternatively, you may have a broader organisational focus, but perhaps you have the people power to support this work and do more of the heavy-lifting. Knowing and leveraging your strengths before commencing negotiations with prospective partners will ensure you get a better deal for your business. Be prepared to ask yourself and your team the tough questions about what you bring to the table as an organisation.

  1. Mind the gap

Also be aware of your skill gaps – and ensure you partner with an organisation that doesn’t have the same gaps as you. Consider whether you have complementary skill-sets, and creative ways to bridge any skill gaps.

  1. Better off alone?

Finally, assess the ideas and opportunities that collaborations offer and weigh these up against the potential challenges. Ask yourself: am I really better off collaborating, or could I/we be better off alone? Consider what you could do with the resources required for your collaboration if you decide not to go ahead. Which option is more favourable from a commercial perspective? And don’t forget to consider brand reputation and PR risks. LEGO’s collaboration with Shell is one example of a company failing to recognise the PR risk of such an association, as attitudes to Shell’s environmental practices have shifted over time.

  1. Trust is a must

Finally, weigh up the ‘co-opetition’. The term, utilised to describe collaborations with organisations that would often be considered your natural competitors, sums up the need for trust. In order for partnerships to be truly successful, all parties need to be willing to share ideas and insights. At the same time, protecting your IP and business plans is essential to mitigate unnecessary risk.

So, be sure to exercise consideration and caution when using the ‘c’ word. While collaborations aren’t for everyone, successful partnerships can offer immense value to all parties.

I’m interested in your thoughts… Do you have a favourite company collaboration? And are there any other considerations you would weigh up before using the ‘c’ word?

As leaders, there are times when our courage and resolve will be tested.

Staying true to your personal values where there is a values mismatch with the company or organisation where you work is one of the most testing scenarios of all.

Being brave, and calling BS when it’s necessary, is an important step for leaders. This is especially true where a company’s brand promise and cultural reality differ.

The case for organisational health may seem obvious, but its impact on an organisation’s bottom line is significant. Worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company asserts that the top quartile of publicly traded companies who participated in their Organisational Health Index delivered about three times the returns to shareholders compared to the bottom quartile.

So what steps should you take to test and maintain your organisation’s health?

Below, I’ve outlined the essential steps every leader, and company for that matter, can take to ensure a healthy company culture. Remember there is never just one culture present. Organisations are like people, and have positive and negative aspects vying for attention.

Define – and benchmark – what success looks like
Being able to define your own benchmark for organisational health is essential. Without benchmarks, how will you know whether you’re heading in the right direction? This involves being able to define the type of products and services you want to provide, to whom, and in what ways. You won’t be the right fit for everyone, nor is everyone the right fit for you. By summarising your brand purpose, values and leadership culture, you’re defining what success should look like for your brand.

Assess the gap
Once you’ve determined your organisational benchmarks, you’ll need to work to remove the obstacles to the culture you’re seeking to create. Consider what you need to change and what has to be introduced into the organisation’s reality to be able to deliver on its brand promise. Too often the organisational cultural reality is totally incongruent with the marketing fantasy. And, as gothamCulture Managing Partner Chris Cancialosi warns, “when you brand promise doesn’t measure up to your audience’s expectations, you won’t just disappoint; you’ll lose their trust and loyalty.” He says embedding this culture in your organisation first is essential, and prevents this disconnect. Ask yourself how far the gap is between promise and reality in relation to your staff, clients and partners.

Get real insights
True assessment of your company’s culture requires leaders to not only look inward, but also outward. Davis & Company CEO Alison Davis recommends that you assess your company’s health at an individual, team and organisational level to get a true picture. Anonymous surveys and one-on-one interviews that give employees the chance to talk candidly about the environment are some useful tactics. It is best to bring an external person in to do this work and analyse and present key insights in order to get an independent and accurate picture.

Remove obstacles to long-term success
You’ll also need to be prepared to remove barriers to the cultural reality you’re seeking. This could involve saying good bye to staff members, or parting ways with a client due to a misalignment of values and purpose. Ten years ago I was personally challenged when our key client took on new management and asked us to provide a substandard product to its clients. The outcome resulted in us walking away and losing in excess of 90 per cent of our income overnight – not ideal! While this was challenging, I backed the quality of our offering, the reputation of our brand, and our genuine respect for the end user. I also held true to the belief that you can always get other projects, but it is damn hard to rebuild your reputation. As tough as it can be, I recommend constantly holding these cultural aspects to account and calling BS when they fall short of the standard you’re aspiring to. Take the action you need to say good bye and make the necessary changes.

Create your team
Finally, attracting the right talent will go a long way to developing a healthy organisational culture. Ensuring you get the right personality fits, incentivising staff, and creating an environment where teamwork is rewarded and recognised, are just some of the ways to build a positive culture for the long-haul.

As a leader remember that what you put up with you end up with.

Ask yourself: What am I tolerating within my own company that I’d like to call BS on? I’d love your insights.

People often talk about “organisational culture” like it’s a silver bullet. Get the culture right in a workplace and, before you know it, you’ll be breaking sales records and winning awards, right?

Wrong.

Many organisations are investing huge money and effort into getting their company culture just right.

It’s a fantastic objective, but one that’s potentially flawed when organisational culture is viewed as a homogenous mass.

So here are a few insider tips to consider when looking at your organisation’s culture. Take these tips into account and you’ll ensure you get value from your review.

Tip 1: Organisations aren’t limited to one culture

This is a common misconception, but there are many cultural aspects that create both your clients’ and staff’s reality. Often, numerous organisational cultures are competing for attention. While your culture relates to your team and staff processes, it’s also expressed through customer experience.  Motivational speaker Simon Sinek cites Starbucks as an example, saying “Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores.” He says the brand created a comfortable space for people to come and work without pressure to buy. “The coffee was incidental,” he continues.

Takeaway: Remember that while culture is often seen as relating to your internal team, how you’re perceived in the marketplace by your customers, as well as the wider community, is another measure of your organisational culture.

Tip 2: A culture of loyalty can be damaging

I want to debunk a long-held view that staff loyalty is always essential to a positive organisational culture. I’ve worked with dozens of companies and organisations who have proven that loyalty – often viewed based on length of service – can be counterproductive. At times employees can become so “loyal” to an employer that they don’t make their own future and wellbeing a priority, with disastrous consequences. Loyal employees can feel disengaged if they’re overlooked for promotions, while employers might conversely place too high of a regard on loyalty, rather than finding the best person for a particular role. Loyal employees can stop employers from making the hard decisions they need to. At the same time, employees might miss out on the opportunities they want, resulting in a lose-lose.

Takeaway: Modern businesses need to create a culture that places respect for each other and our clients, hard work and genuine output ahead of loyalty.

Tip 3: Review your culture – regularly

Think you’ve already got a great organisational culture? It’s still important to review your cultures, as your internal culture influences how your customers perceive you and your organisation, and impacts on the quality of your service delivery. This, in turn, will impact your KPIs and the overall performance of your organisation. Steve Jobs once famously stated that the real return on culture at Apple “happened when we started getting more deliberate about it”. He said this was done “By writing it down. By debating it. By taking it apart, polishing the pieces and putting it back together.”

Takeaway: Your organisation’s cultures are always a work in progress, open to review, change and growth.

Need support reviewing your organisational cultures? Kiikstart can help. Get in touch at enquiries@kiikstart.com or phone 0428 593 400.