Company Cultures are the Root of All Profits
I study great workplaces. There are more of them than you might believe! It’s true most workplaces are not inspiring, engaging, fun, productive environments. Most company cultures are not healthy. Unhealthy company cultures negatively impact engagement, service, results and profits.
Conversely, great workplaces have extremely healthy cultures. Those company cultures are healthy because everyone – leaders and team members – make it a point to pay attention to the quality of their work environment and invest in making it healthy, daily.
How Company Cultures Flow
Here’s their thinking, inspired by a Joel Spolsky article. They want their company to be successful and profitable. To accomplish that, they must attract the right clients – then help those clients to be successful and profitable. To ensure client success, they must have the best programmers and the best processes and systems. The only way to guarantee the best programmers and the best systems, every day, is to create the best working conditions possible, every day.
The “flow” of their mindset is:
- The best working conditions lead to
- The best team members using the best systems and processes, which leads to
- The right clients and profits for those clients, which leads to
- Results and profits for their company
The founders believe that “best working conditions” encompass a variety of elements including compensation, the work environment, the company’s mission or purpose, the work itself and their culture. To me, all those factors reside in their chosen culture.
I really like the founders’ “flow.” In my work with senior leaders – of small businesses, of multi-nationals, and many in between – I coach them to create the best working conditions for their employees. That’s the only way to build a sustainable, powerful, positive, productive culture.
The problem is most leaders have never been asked to do that. Most don’t know how to do that. I direct leaders to be intentional about their desired culture through an organizational constitution. Their organizational constitution specifies their organization’s (or team’s or division’s) present day servant purpose (who do they serve, and to what end – besides making money?), values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.
The servant purpose element along with values and behaviors are the foundation of healthy working conditions. Those elements help ensure everyone knows how to treat others with respect, trust, and dignity in every interaction.
Knowing how to treat others kindly doesn’t mean players will actually treat others kindly. Aligning plans, decisions, and actions to the organizational constitution is where the real work begins. Announcing those desired pieces – purpose, values, etc., doesn’t make them real. Leaders living them, coaching them, celebrating alignment, and redirecting misalignment help create and maintain those “best working conditions” daily.
Evaluating Company Culture
How do you know if you’ve got a great culture built on the best working conditions? Ask employees, frequently. Conversion Rate Experts use TinyPulse, a weekly three-minute engagement assessment for all employees.
In addition, they asked employees to describe what their culture means to them. Their answers are inspiring. What would your employees say about your culture, today? Their answers might be less inspiring.
Building a great workplace takes time, energy, intention, and attention. Learn from this little software company: start with the best working conditions, and build from there.