Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Polarizing your company’s culture

In our team meeting 2 weeks ago I introduced our company Vision, Mission, 13 Points of Culture and Company Philosophy. I hadn’t intended to review it with the team as quickly as I did (our 4th team meeting) however we had some issues that required me to be much more specific than “lying is never an option” as I had emphasized at our first team meeting. The details of the incident really aren’t important – basically we just told a customer one thing and did something else. Obviously we corrected that and so it is my responsibility as the Team Leader to lay out for them in black and white EXACTLY what is expected from the team.

You may reference my previous blog, “Your company has a culture, did you choose it?” for the first 12 points of culture and I recently added another point emphasizing safety.

The first week I just handed out a copy of the Vision, Mission, Culture and Company Philosophy to present the concept of each and then allow them a week to “mull it over.” My teammates ensured me that while they had down-time they were reviewing the points and a few questions came up that hopefully I clarified to their satisfaction.

At the next team meeting, a week later, I reviewed each point with a quick synopsis. At this point my goal was to ensure everyone was familiar with the points and knew exactly what our team was about. The 2 things that amazed me most about what happened after revealing the points of culture were:

  1. The number of times I referenced a point of culture with a teammate. – In the first meeting when I was explaining the concept of “Points of Culture”, our most senior technician spoke up and said he’s had an issue at times with pride that prevented him from asking for help when he really needed it.  I immediately got a big smile and said – take a look at #7 on the list “We understand that every person we encounter has something to teach us and so will learn from everyone around us.” He just laughed and whole-heartedly agreed. Throughout the week, I was working on reviewing our “12 Questions” employee review surveys courtesy of First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, and in every single performance review meeting I referenced at least 2 points of culture. I never planned to bring up the points in our meetings, they just happened to explain something that my teammate and I were discussing.
  2. The enthusiasm with which everyone embraced them. When I reviewed all of the points of culture one-by-one, I made it clear to the team that in companies where a culture as specific as this is created, not everyone fits. I went as far as to say that I hope this doesn’t happen, but I’m prepared for people who just don’t agree to move on. For me it is extremely important to let them know that this isn’t a game or some feel-good lovey, dovey BS. Everyone on our team has a job to do and the result of that job can be boiled down to black and white. For me, my responsibility is to make the business more profitable. If the bottom line doesn’t improve, then everything I’m doing is a waste. With that being said, of the 4 people I sat down with to have performance reviews all 4 of them said “Bryan, I agree 100% with what you’re doing and I think it’s great for the company.” And I believe that they were all very sincere and excited about what’s to come.

So how does the bottom line look after only 2 weeks of improved culture and a dedicated focus on our service department? Well the “black and white” performance measurement that I use in our service department is the average revenue each technician brings in each day. I know what my daily break-even is for each technician and so I have a target reasonably higher then that. On average, in January thru April 2008 we were losing money each day in our service department. The first 2 weeks in May represent a 60% increase in Revenue/Tech/Day over the average for the first 4 months in 2008. 🙂  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do still have to figure in the alotted revenue the service department receives for each new install since my numbers only reflect revenue generated from service. Nonetheless, with a 60% increase, I think we’re on the right track!

Additionally, 2 of my technicians are moving on to greener pastures. One to make 3-4 times more money then I can offer (though he did admit he wishes my programs were in place for longer since he knows they would have helped him do better at his job. He also went on to say that if he could choose his boss, he’d be exactly like me. lol I just had to throw that in.).  The other stopped showing up for work before I ever had a chance to review our Vision, Mission, Culture. There seems to be some bad blood between him and my partner that I really don’t plan to get involved with.

One of my main goals with developing a company culture is to polarize it. Nordstrom’s is famous for creating a culture where you either love it or hate it. According to one of Jim Collins’ books, people who are hired are there either less than 6 months or more than 10 years. There is no middle road. There is no luke warm. You’re either a part of the team or you’re not. That’s the kind of culture I want for our team!

Have you or can you develop that for your team?

To your success, Bryan

About Bryan Trilli

Entrepreneurial Junky is probably the best way to describe me. I've bought, run and sold 3 businesses in 3 different states and started a 4th. The first 3 were brick-and-mortar service-based businesses and the 4th does internet marketing for service businesses. My team at Optimized Marketing guarantees to double your business' internet contacts in just 90 Days.

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