Big Red Car here. Rained last night. Gentle rain upon our fields and filling our lakes here in Central Texas. Makes everything green until the blazing summer comes. But, ahh, it is great while it lasts.
On to Company Culture and specifically the notion of “outcomes”.
Before you start doing something, you should probably decide what outcomes you are trying to create. This is no different with developing a robust Company Culture. [Do you like the way the Big Red Car puts capitals on Company Culture? That's the Big Red Car's way of drawing your attention to the subject. Oh, the Big Red Car is a crafty and clever Big Red Car. Haha, I crack myself up sometimes. Back to work here, folks. Sorry.]
Outcomes — why are we doing this anyway, Big Red Car?
The objective of creating a strong Company Culture is to enhance the accomplishment of the Vision and Mission of the company itself.
When you have a strong Company Culture the combined efforts of the team are multiplied by a heightened sense of mission, cooperation, energy and focus.
The team knows the company’s mission. The team is focused on accomplishing that mission. The team is more energized and focused on accomplishing that mission. The team owns that mission and its efforts to accomplish that mission. All forces within the company are aligned.
The mission has a heightened probability of being accomplished.
The team is going to have more fun because winning is fun.
The Big Red Car is very keen on knowing why you are doing stuff before you start doing it and in understanding how to define and measure your success.
How does this manifest itself, Big Red Car?
We have discussed how to test for the current status of your Company Culture here. Testing Company Culture <<< click on link
What we do know is that a strong Company Culture can be detected and it has demonstrable outcomes that can be tested. They can be tested in a manner that establishes a trend line.
Things like turnover, the effectiveness of hiring protocols, the results of an anonymous Company Survey and general powers of observation can all be documented over time and one can assess whether the Company Culture is strengthening, idling or diminishing.
You have to want to know this data and you have to want to test for it and you have to want to live with the results.
The CEO has to own and live the Company Culture as an essential ingredient in achieving his Vision and the company’s Mission.
The CEO has to work on this constantly with a native sense of consistency like breathing or eating.
The CEO cannot work on this in spurts and the effort has to be seamless, natural and genuine. A lack of authenticity will do damage.
When team members are sharing information on the best place to get a tattoo with the company logo, then you will know that you are making progress.
Real world anecdote
Back in the day, The Boss was running a nice little real estate company with about 4-500 employees in the field and about 25 employees in the headquarters. They were buying downtown office buildings and renovating them. They were buying apartments and renovating them. They were operating in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
Here is a picture of the famous Littlefield Building at the corner of Sixth and Congress in Austin. This is Hollywood and Vine in the Texas Capital and it is the 100% location perhaps in the entire State of Texas — which is, of course, the center of the universe, no?
The economy was miserable and Austin, Texas was arguably the worst real estate market in the United States. The Boss was nothing if not a contrarian and he went to work with a smile on his face whistling a song about “buying low” and “selling high” when the market recovered. There were a few struggles to make payroll but it was an interesting time.
The best of times and the worst of times but a great time to place a long term bet on the attractiveness of Austin if one could get over the ankle deep blood in the streets.
The Boss made a huge bet and attracted the attention and support of big financial institutions like GE Capital and Fidelity Investments and others. It was a huge contrarian bet that worked out just fine. In the process, he also built a great company and a strong Company Culture.
The Littlefield Building had a distinctive name and logo on its corner facing the intersection of Sixth and Congress.
This logo became the company logo and the name of the company was Littlefield Real Estate Company.
Well, The Boss’s assistant had temporary water soluble tattoos made of the logo on a lark. The folks liked to put a tattoo on and show it to The Boss. It became a genuinely funny thing as folks would wear short sleeve shirts and show off their tattoos. The first time The Boss saw one, he was surprised until he learned they were water soluble and not permanent. Then he laughed. Laughter — the more the better — is a good sign of a strong Company Culture.
This was significant for several reasons:
1. The team had empowered themselves to do this with no guidance from above. Empowerment and self-empowerment are significant indicators of a strong Company Culture.
2. The company had a logo and a motto (“Urgent Excellence”) which supported the accomplishment of its mission.
3. The tattoo, logo and motto became rallying cries for the company itself and the entire company was in on it.
In the building of a strong Company Culture, define the desired outcomes. Test for them. Don’t miss an opportunity to develop touchstones and talismans which validate and evidence the development of your Company Culture. Laugh a lot.