As the owner or CEO, you can drive a more supportive and ultimately productive culture.
If you ask any CEO what their long-term growth plan is, you will probably get a quick, definitive answer that lays out their BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) – increased revenue numbers, expansion plans, etc. It's relatively easy to have a clear vision of where you want to see your brand in the future, but the path might be lined with questions such as "how do I get there?"
Sure, you may have an unmatched business model and the most qualified candidates, but there could be something missing that will halt your growth in its tracks. Your employees may give 100 percent each and every day, but do they enjoy it? If the answer is no, then it's unlikely you will see your company grow and move in the direction you'd like.
Company culture is one of the greatest assets when it comes to the evolution and growth of your brand. Since employees are the heart of your company, it is essential to ensure that each one feels valued and recognized for their hard work. This motivates them to continue pushing the brand to new heights, ultimately achieving your long-term vision and goals.
If you think your company culture could use a little refresh, keep these four simple guidelines in mind:
1. Don't be afraid to be the 'yes' CEO.
2. Make C-suite execs accessible to your employees.
3. Reward handsomely.
4. Reverse the hierarchical pyramid.
1. Have a 'yes' CEO mentality.
As the leader of an organization, the CEO and the board of directors are traditionally the decision-makers with the final say in all things related to the business. While it is necessary for the board to have a say in high-level decisions pertaining to the success of the company, sometimes opening up the floor to all of your employees for input on best practices and new ideas has its benefits. While it is important to establish a hierarchy within the business, it is also important to take a step back and listen to your employees' unique perspectives and ideas.
As members of the brand who are ingrained in the day-to-day functions of the company, your employees can provide insight on issues that C-suite executives may not even know exist. In my experience, allowing my franchisees entrepreneurial freedom and a voice in corporate decisions was the catalyst for my business-wide decision to rebrand the company. This rebranding has had a tremendous impact on the brand's success, and I continue to let this mentality serve as the cornerstone of my leadership style.
2. Make executives accessible to all your employees.
It's not uncommon to see high-level executives tucked away and unreachable to most employees. Our vice president, on the other hand, can be found in every corner – literally. He travels across the U.S. to each of our grand openings, appearing as our unofficial pirate mascot, Captain Jack Spare (referencing our Tampa roots and the community's traditional Gasparilla Pirate Festival). Spare can be found standing in the corner, shouting, "Ahoy, mates! Come check out your new Arrrrrh 'n' Arrrrrh!"
Now, you don't necessarily need to encourage your executives to dress up like pirates and go hang out with employees in the break room, but ensuring their accessibility can make all the difference. Breaking down that hierarchical barrier reassures your employees that they are recognized and their opinions are valued.
3. Reward those who deserve it – handsomely.
It is critical to recognize that you can't manage results; you can only measure activity, then measure results. It's all too common to see employees put everything they have into their work and not receive the positive recognition in response. While this may seem trivial, praise and recognition are fundamental human needs. Recognizing your employees can boost morale in the office and help employees realize the value they bring to the company. When they see that they are valued, their motivation to continue delivering results increases, and productivity increases in the long run.
To motivate and acknowledge achievements at all levels, go out of your way to reward those who deserve it most. Whether it be kind words, small tokens of appreciation, monetary rewards, or even outings with employees and their families, find what works best for you and make an effort to give back to those who give their all for your brand.
4. Reverse the hierarchical pyramid.
Try reversing the roles: Let the very bottom of the pyramid (sales and service associates) become the top of the pyramid, while the very top (the CEO and executive board) becomes the bottom. As a leader, once you recognize and communicate that everyone's job is to support the newly established level "above" them, you will develop a culture based on service and support that makes a lasting impact on the customer experience.
If you are a CEO or other high-level executive, it is extremely important to recognize that being high on the chain of command doesn't mean you should give off the impression that you know everything. Your company is foundationally based on a team of people with different backgrounds coming together for one common goal – and recognizing that is absolutely necessary for the success of your brand. Each of your employees has different skills and capabilities beyond your own. Foster an open and supportive community focused on capitalizing on each employee's unique skills and building up the corporate culture needed for the success of your business.