There is a factor that is often overlooked in terms of company profitability. Less quantifiable than tangible goods and services and the production thereof, it is often dismissed as a viable indicator of profit. And yet, it can make or break a company.
What is this factor?
It is culture.
And what is culture?
That’s where it gets a little murky. Some believe culture just “happens” based on the combination of individuals who work in a company – the atmosphere they create. For them, culture is an after-effect that may or may not result in profitability. The wise business leader or owner will create the culture and then build the employee and client base around that culture. For them, culture is a catalyst for more certain profitability.
Culture is the vision and values of a company, and it is foundational. Culture is essentially where the values of a company meet the human element of a business. Done effectively, this can impact the bottom line of a company considerably.
Here are ways to create a profitable corporate culture.
Clarity – Be clear on the company’s vision, values, and mission. This sounds like a statement of the obvious, but it is often not defined clearly to employees and customers.
Communication – Communicate the vision, values, and mission to the employees…to a point where they not only know what they are, but accept them as their own vision, values, and mission. You want your employees to take it personally.
Committed Employees – Committed employees are the backbone of a successful business. Committed employees grow best in an environment of clarity, trust, and investment in their individual development. Hire employees for their strengths and allow them to operate accordingly. Empower them to make decisions and exercise creative problem solving. If you have communicated the vision, values, and mission well, listen to their ideas of how to build upon that foundation. The best way to ensure you have committed employees is to be a committed leader – committed to their success.
Customer Service – Show me a company with poor customer service, and I will show you a company that will eventually cease to exist. As much as we are technology-based, there is still a dire need for stellar customer service. In fact, that is what makes a company stand out from its competition. In a highly competitive market and a weak economy, there are only three distinguishing factors that create a strong customer base – price, quality, and customer service. If you’re not a major corporation with the leverage to source at a very low price point, you can still win with high quality and stellar customer service.
The irony is that in a world of technology and automation, the people factor is still the most important factor in business. An investment in the culture of your business – and in the people who create that culture – could very well be your best investment ever.