Improving Your Culture is Not Just a Priority, It Must Be an Obsession!

BY C. Lee Smith
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One of my employees asked me, “Lee, why do you OBSESS over culture?” I think the culture here is pretty great!”

Well, the culture here is pretty great BECAUSE I obsess over it!” I told her.

Measuring and improving your culture is the secret to developing managers' understanding of what it takes to create a happy, productive work-​space. It also reduces employee turnover. And should you lose a good employee, a great culture will also help you attract a high quality replacement.

There are a thousand definitions of workplace culture, and many of them are stupid. Over my 25+ years of running a successful company, I’ve learned that “culture is what brings your team together and what sets them apart.”

What brings people together isn’t fancy office furniture or a ping pong table. It’s doing things together… things that most people actually enjoy.

Here’s an example… Many people at SalesFuel are big hockey fans. So I took the entire company out to an NHL game. They had seats right behind the glass and plenty of good food and drink from the arena’s private chef. What are your people big fans of?

Doing things together doesn’t have to cost that much money. You could have a pot luck lunch or an ice cream cart rolling through the aisles for an afternoon snack. Or simply knock off a half hour early for happy hour in the break room.

The folks in my office ARE ENCOURAGED to get up from their computers around 3:30 every afternoon for a brisk walk around a nearby pond. They come back to the office 20 minutes later refreshed and ready to end the day strong.

Shared adversity can also bring your team together. A sort of silver lining around a big dark thunderstorm cloud.

At SalesFuel, too many of us have had people close to us battle cancer in one form or another. So, I personally ride a bicycle from Cincinnati to Cleveland every year to raise money for the American Cancer Society. If you’re counting — that’s 328 miles over 4 days. My colleagues voluntarily donate to the cause and the company matches them dollar for dollar. They also send me little motivational texts while I’m riding that really help! Next year, several of them will join me for a similar ride.

What cause do YOUR people care about? What adversity do many of them really want to overcome? If you don’t know, start by asking them. IDEA: Email them a quick survey, make it a topic at an all hands meeting or just bring up the topic when you talk to them face to face.

Culture isn’t just what brings your team together. It’s what sets your team apart too. It’s those little traditions, turns of phrase, inside jokes or the way we do what we do that makes us different from everyplace else. It’s those things that your employees share at Thanksgiving dinner that make people go “Wow! Cool!”

So what’s your culture like? Measure it. Manage it. OBSESS over it. You’ll not only hate Monday mornings a little less, you’ll find the improvement in your team’s performance will be quite noticeable as well!

Your culture is the key to office happiness and productivity. Couldn’t your team use more of THAT?