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Tips on creating a world-class culture

August 7, 2017 -  By

Photo: © your internal customers as well as your external customers—if not better.

Creating a world-class internal culture is an important piece of a business’s customer service puzzle—it may even be the most important piece. All organizations need to make sure they treat their internal customers as well as, if not better than, they treat their external customers. Yet, so many times companies that want to improve their service never think about the experience of their internal customers—their employees.

When an organization doesn’t focus on its internal experience, employees typically win or lose the manager lottery, meaning they work with a great manager who makes coming to work rewarding or they dread heading in each day. You’ve either been there or know someone who has. To jump off the manager lottery merry-go-round, you must ask difficult questions internally.

First, determine what the biggest morale issues are. What do employees complain about the most? What are the main reasons employees quit?

Companies also need to look at turnover by department first. What are the percentages of people leaving each department? When are they leaving? Are you losing associates within the first 90 days? After two years? Timing can suggest many things. Employees leaving early in their tenure can mean you’re throwing too much at them to soon or overpromising during orientation and under delivering on the job. Turnover later in employees’ tenures, say after one year, could mean they start to feel like a number.

Now, think about all the great things a new hire or current associate can get only from a landscape contracting or lawn care business. What are the soft benefits—those offered beyond what’s required by law? It could be educational or service opportunities, things employers can start to take for granted because they’re always there. Businesses have to remember the unique things they offer that aren’t available elsewhere.

Here’s a question that can get a little more difficult to answer and spark debate and discussion within your leadership group: How well do managers create a strong culture? Remember, a dynamic leader at the top is great, but a leader needs to be reinforced by managers and supervisors throughout an organization. Businesses can’t rely on one person to establish company culture.

Here’s the final set of questions: How are employees recognized and celebrated? What current systems, if any, are in place to collect and share success stories? Are mangers and supervisors trained to coach and recognize in the moment?

The following are tools companies can use to improve culture, some as quickly as tomorrow:

Engagement indicator.
First, make sure all hiring managers use the engagement indicator, which is an interview checklist that’s a handy way to remember that, while you’re asking the important questions, you’re also making sure the candidate is smiling, making eye contact, engaging naturally and showing enthusiasm. Here’s the reality: If a candidate can’t do these things when he’s there to sell himself, there’s no way he’ll be able to do it on behalf of your brand. The results might tell you the person is better served in a non-customer-facing role, or maybe it’s the deciding factor when the hiring manager is on the fence about a candidate.

Hiring non-negotiables.
What are the things you wished new hires knew about your company? What employee behaviors (like being late) just aren’t acceptable? Well, tell them. That’s what hiring non-negotiables are all about. Identify what you wish everyone knew right off the bat, not what they will find out over time. What will slowly kill your company culture if new employees exude this behavior? Tell them before they start. Make sure they have a clear understanding of these things before they take the job.

Training tools.
Now, take all this great data you’ve been collecting and create a training tool for your organization. Document all the best practices so you can create a guide for promoting consistency.

Identify—in an internal workshop, for example—the stages you believe are most important to your business model. Examples include recruiting; screening and hiring; and evaluations at the first week, first 90 days and first six months. Based on your findings about turnover, decide where you need the most attention. Do you need to add a step early on or focus farther out, say a year two and beyond?

Next, identify the standards that should be delivered to employees at each stage. What are the things managers should do consistently for employees? These can include things such as conducting a 90-day interview, or something as simple as completing an annual evaluation on time. Often, these are ideas senior leaders think are happening consistently, but many times they’re not.

Remember, the most important determinant of an employee’s performance and commitment to stay with an organization is the relationship he has with his immediate manager. You hear it all the time: People don’t quit companies, they quit people. Do you have too many employees quitting your people?

Quick tip:

Make sure all hiring managers use an interview checklist to remember that, while you’re asking the important questions, you’re also making sure the candidate is smiling, making eye contact, engaging naturally and showing enthusiasm.

Photo: ©

This article is tagged with and posted in 1016, Business, Business Planner 2017

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