On numerous occasions I’ve been asked what makes a strong brand. An immediate response is the company’s founders. Without a visionary founding, an organisation is soulless. The essence of the organisation is thus built around the vision and mission of its founders when the organisation is established. It is also important for me to mention that the vision, mission and values must continue to be tested as time moves along. A business’ surrounding environment changes; now even more so than in the past. These changes challenge the organisation to adopt and adapt and at times evolve their mission to align with what the market wants. Before this happens a critical evaluation needs to be carried out by the firm’s stakeholders as to whether a change in strategic direction is warranted. This often takes place where the gap between what an organisation stands for and what the market wants is so wide that without change, the organisation risks gradually losing its client base. Remaining relevant is, thus, one of the factors that an organisation’s leadership must continue to focus on as they grow and progress their brand.
In addition to visionary founders, it’s the people you get on board that also contribute to building a strong, relevant and future-fit brand. Getting the right people on the bus contributes significantly to enjoyment of the trip. It is more than comforting for the founder of an organisation to be surrounded by people who buy-in to the vision of the organisation, are aligned to their principles and through this understanding build an enabling culture. A viable corporate culture is, therefore, imperative to building a strong brand. Based on this below are a few suggestions on building a winning corporate culture that translates into growing and progressing a brand that stays ahead of the curve.
Hire the right people
According to Paul Alofs firms should hire for passion and commitment first, experience second, and credentials third. The interviewing process should go beyond asking the person about items included in their CVs. Understand what makes them tick and how they’ll add to making the organisation better through their employ; and by this we suggest over and above the revenue and profitability objectives. Get a sense of how committed they will be to the organisation’s cause and also whether this cause aligns with the individual’s long term objectives. This alignment ensures greater buy-in and enhances the culture by bringing in a can-do attitude; including pushing boundaries what the firm intends to achieve and more.
The more diverse your team, the greater the culture you create within the organisation. People from different backgrounds, experiences and interests bring diverse perspectives that foster a dynamic energy within the organisation. The more dynamic the energy, the more refreshing your culture is. This keeps your staff members excited and outsiders wanting to be a part of the magic that resides within your building and in the hearts and minds of your people. A great culture celebrates differences, learns from its people and is accommodating based on lessons learned from within. This is beneficial to a growing organisation, particularly when they decide to expand geographically or branch out into a new field. Recruiting a diverse team supports you to have some background on how best to navigate in uncharted territories.
A winning organisation is one that sees way into the future. Leadership and the staff should be fixated on what the future holds, where your organisation fits in and how it will take full advantage of these potential opportunities. Create a culture that asks all of your stakeholders what is out there and whether the organisation has what it takes to withstand all of the obstacles that come its way. Brainstorm regularly on what makes your organisation relevant and whether new ideas need to be tried out. Question what you believe in continuously and ascertain whether this will see you and your team staying ahead of the pack and going the distance. Think about your business from a legacy standpoint, being known for making a difference. Collaboration is critical to building a culture that supports your organisation to take big steps and believe they can achieve. Ambition that is well understood across all of your employees is thus an important ingredient to building a winning organisational culture. Remember that passion capitalists take the long view. Your culture, thus, needs to look ahead, not just in months but in years and even decades.
Good leadership is centred around effective communication across the entire organisation. Interact with your colleagues and staff as much as you can about the organisation’s successes and failures. Suggest solutions on how to overcome setbacks and take full advantage of available opportunities, but also take a step back to listen to their feedback and ideas they might have on supporting the organisation to be future fit. Leverage their input to come up with collective decision on how best to move the organisation forward. Winning cultures are centred around collaboration with a communication being a critical tool to foster these initiatives. The more there is understanding within the organisation based on effective communication, the better it responds to challenges it will encounter in the market place. Effective communication also pushes an organisation to be proactive, staying ahead of the tide.
Get rid of the misaligned
The truth is you’re going to make a hiring mistake as your organisation grows in size. Employees not fully aligned to your organisation’s culture capital will always speak out about it. And they will not say it to your face. Instead, they’ll whisper in the corridors in an effort to get more people that are thinking like they are. Such a person destroys the organisation’s winning culture and takes away from the warm feeling your staff are supposed to feel whenever they’re in the building. Such a situation is exacerbated if this bad fruit is within a position of influence. A good culture is also built around loyalty and subordinates maybe coerced to also identify with what the bad apple is whispering driven by loyalty. Long story short is that one of the most destructive factors to your flourishing culture is a whiner. Avoid this rot by making the tough decision. Let them go.
Lead by example. Genuinely believe in your organisation’s vision, values and objectives. Go about fulfilling on these objectives with enthusiasm. Augment this passion through a work ethic that reflects that it’s easy for you to put in the extra hours because you love what you do. Don’t overdo it though. Maintain balance between working hard and playing hard. Acknowledge your team’s sacrifices by giving them a day off, taking them out for lunch or a simple pat on the back. Don’t let their efforts go unnoticed. For all the times that they put in extra effort, give back in a fun way to maintain their enthusiasm. A culture of recognition of sacrifice is crucial to building a winning culture within your organisation.
Break down the barriers
A great culture flows freely and is not blocked by barriers such as divisions, functions, hierarchy and even walls and doors. When developing your office space, ask yourself whether the office arrangement promotes interaction and connectivity. Creating an environment that enables everyone to have an understanding of what each function is working on, both formally and informally. Foster an openness that allows ideas to be exchanged and their merit explored from the top-down, as well as, from the bottom-up. Believe in inclusive teaming, developing an atmosphere where everyone’s opinion is considered and appreciated and chances are given to all those who want to be a part of something bigger. Encourage communication, freedom of speech and inquisition. Ensure that your physical space allows for all of this to occur without a lot of effort needing to be exerted to do so.