How can you make your agency’s culture your competitive advantage?
This was the theme of our recent podcast with Derek Bishop, Co-Founder of Culture Consultancy. His agency specialises in designing and embedding organisational cultures to support strategic changes or business transformation.
Our Founder and Director, Leon Milns recently joined Derek for an Adam Hosts breakfast. During the session, Leon and Adam asked 14 senior stakeholders from various agencies to share their view on culture and success.
In the follow up podcast, Leon and Derek reflect on their biggest takeaways from the event. Let’s deep dive into these lessons. Discover game-changing insight on how to execute a powerful company culture.
Lesson one: defining a great culture
Every business has a culture whether it’s defined or not. Getting clear starts with understanding:
1. what your current culture is
2. the attributes that are contributing to good performance
3. the attributes that are holding the business back
Businesses fail at defining their culture powerfully because they’re designing it in isolation. When really you need to think about how your culture will support your strategy and plans for growth.
This isn’t a quick exercise. You need to explore the essence of everything you do, from decision-making to fundamental behaviours within the business.
Once you can define your culture on a comprehensive level, you can give it a final format, whether that’s a culture handbook or guided principles. The next step is to embed it into your business.
Lesson two: embedding your culture into your business
Providing clarity for your employees on the behaviours underpinning your values is where to start. So you can guide your people in their day-to-day role on how they should behave and act.
Then you need to ensure your culture is embedded into all of your work practices and processes such as:
● Your proposition to employees
● How you attract talent
● Your recruitment strategy
● Your onboarding strategy
● How you manage performance
● Your staff retention strategy
Often, businesses forget to embed their culture into ‘non-HR stuff’ too: processes, policies, approvals, management information, supplier selection and so on. It’s not ‘people stuff’ but it WILL influence your culture.
This is how you empower your people to make decisions aligned with your company culture. You can’t expect the transition and change to happen unsolicited. You have to educate, engage and support your people, helping them move from where
they are now to where they need to be.
Lesson three: how long does it take?
As you can gather from the above, embedding your culture can’t be rushed. How long it takes also depends on the scale of the change. If you’re growing your business and your culture needs a bit of fine-tuning, this can take a few
However, if you’ve acquired a new business, are moving to a new location or need to address poor performance, it can take years.
Also, a lot of founders or Managing Directors make the mistake of holding onto the culture that helped them get to where they are now. The truth is that when you’re a bigger business, your culture needs to be fine-tuned to match your
growth and help you sustain success.
Lesson four: how to monitor your culture
Monitoring your culture should be an ongoing task. To ensure it’s developing effectively and that your employees are happy and engaged. If there are signs that things aren’t going to plan, you have ample time to rectify things.
For example, Derek recently worked with a company to help them monitor their culture on a weekly basis. A poll was sent out to employees every week with three questions pertinent to the business’ culture. The answers were then
tracked against specific metrics.
This data helped the business identify when culture and engagement dropped, giving management a three-week window before customer satisfaction took a hit. Consequently, they had the time needed to find a fix and protect the business’ bottom line.
Lesson five: how to use your culture to attract the best talent
First, your culture needs to be well defined. Then you can bring it to life through your brand and employee proposition.
The message conveyed must match the experience candidates have during the selection process. So they (and you) can make an informed decision on whether your company is a good cultural fit.
To create an attractive employee proposition, you need a clear message that makes your brand stand out. For example, perhaps you enable people to be the best version of themselves or you offer unrivalled flexibility.
In this era, it’s critical to create a proposition that is multi-generational. So you can attract the talent mix you need to progress (for more on this topic read our blog: Team Building and the Multi-Generational Divide).
Also, look at the impact you want people to have. Do they need to come up with game-changing ideas? Take something old and refine it into something brilliant? Bring teams together? Ensure your employee proposition communicates this so you
can find the talent you need to progress.
Lesson six: the key to talent retention
You can have great onboarding and induction processes. But the truth is that staff retention comes from the relationships employees have with their manager.
According to a report by ADP Research Institute, manager relationships that disappoint and disengage employees is the top cause of turnover. As the saying goes, people don’t leave the business, they leave their manager.
Business leaders need to equip managers with the skills to effectively lead, engage and develop their people. So they can:
● manage new recruits’ transition into the business
● enable them to perform at their best
● help them develop in their careers
Managers should be able to do this on an individual level. Retention isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. An individual’s needs, wants and expectations need to be met by the manager, and the manager needs to understand that.
That’s a wrap!
Loved this article? Explore these lessons again in our podcast from the renowned culture expert, Derek Bishop.