Few corporate leaders doubt the benefits of a strong company culture. It can help attract and retain the best staff, motivate employees at all levels to act in the best interests of clients and the company, encourage quality customer service, and drive the business forward. However, according to Bain & Company stats, although 65 percent of leaders believe they need to change their company culture and 81 percent of leaders believe an organization is doomed to mediocrity if the culture is lacking, fewer than 10 percent succeed in building a winning culture. The questions many leaders ask are how to develop the right corporate culture in the first place, and how to make it a priority to ensure success.
Key attributes of developing a winning culture
The truth is, culture cannot be easily developed, nor can it be easily replicated. That's why the right culture-focused on what matters most to the organization-can be a significant differentiator among companies providing similar products or services. But there are a few common characteristics of successful corporate cultures, including:
1. Change must start at the top:
- While many things can influence culture, the single most important one is leadership. What leaders do and say (in that order) will set the tone for what others do and say, including to customers.
2. Culture must be led through actions, not just talk:
- Align the leadership team on key values and priorities;
- Set expectations;
- Execute by communicating and "living" the values and priorities;
- Never forget the frontline, where sustained cultural change can have the greatest impact on a company's performance.
3. Challenge and motivate the team to display the right behaviors:
- Focus on the business objectives, not a formal "culture change" program;
- Drive culture using intrinsic motivators-an open and caring relationship with your manager or meaningful learning and growth opportunities-versus extrinsic factors like compensation. It's the intrinsic motivation that drives purpose and long-term commitment.
- Developing culture can't feel like a forced HR initiative or a formal culture change program. Leadership and team member behavior every day must be a living example of the culture and values of your organization that are seen to support the success and growth of the business.
4. Repeat, repeat, repeat:
- Team members should hear the same messages over and over, by different levels of the organization.
5. Communicate and celebrate success:
- Share stories with the team about what's working and why.
- Celebrate employees who go above and beyond.
Changing culture is no easy task; transforming a culture requires influencing people's deepest beliefs and most habitual behaviors. It's hard enough to change one person's behavior, let alone that of an entire organization. This can be especially difficult in the call center-a company's frontline-where agents may be subject to unusual working hours and sometimes tedious, difficult tasks involving frustrated customers on the other end of the phone. In this type of environment, culture can play an especially big role in keeping and motivating employees to provide excellent customer service. It can also help lower attrition rates, with more tenured employees being better equipped to meet and exceed customer expectations. Overall, when employees feel valued and passionate about their work, they build better relationships with the customers they serve.