DALLAS — We were recently fortunate enough to host a conference for other cleaners around the U.S. at our Minneapolis cleaning lab. During our meetings one of the topics that came up repeatedly was culture.

Over and over the question was asked, “How do we as owners build a culture among our staff that lasts long after we go home for the day.”

In talking with other owners one thing that was both surprising and encouraging was how clear most owners were about the type of culture they wanted. The desired cultures varied dramatically from top-down military-like hierarchies to competitive sales-driven teams to employee-ownership cultures.

While we all knew what we wanted, we quickly realized that much of it was in our mind, and had not been shared with our staff in a meaningful, ongoing way. What became clear to all of us in those meetings is that we needed to start living our culture out loud.

What do I mean by living our culture out loud?

I mean integrating your culture in every person, place and activity in your business, so that it’s not just an ephemeral concept in your mind, but a concrete set of symbols, values, language, and actions that every person at your company understands and buys into.

I can imagine that many of you might be rolling your eyes right now, saying, “Dan, I would love to spend time on my company culture, but I’ve got more important things to do right now like get these last few orders out the door.”

Believe me I get it. I’ve been there where you are so buried in the immediate you forget the important.

However, I promise you that if you take the extra time to build your culture, then you won’t have the immediate problems to worry about because your team will have solved them long before they get to you.

LIVING IT

Of course, many companies have defined their culture in a strategic planning exercise. They have their mission statement and values written in a document somewhere. But, that’s normally where culture falls down. Because it isn’t enough to decided on key components of your culture, you have to bring them to life in every touch point.

While there are countless different ways to do this, there is one simple exercise that I would highly recommend. Walk yourself through the journey of both a customer and your employees and ask yourself at each touch point, “Do I see a symbol or piece of their culture?”

For example, at our stores, we tell every interview candidate about our mission and values. Every store has our values posted behind the front counter. Our cleaning lab has the values posted in the main production facility and the break room. All of this is designed to ensure that every person that interacts with us has a firm understanding of our culture and what we’re trying to achieve.

However, signs and symbols aren’t enough to drive the culture. It’s on an owner to verbalize the values every day.

When you give performance management feedback, tie both positive performance and opportunities for improvement back to the core values of the company. When you give a presentation, include a slide on your values just to reaffirm their importance in every discussion. When you train or give professional development, make your culture the beginning of every section.

If you begin living your culture out loud you can take your culture from being an idea in your mind to being a living, breathing organism that drives your company to new heights!

To read Part 1, go HERE.