Have you ever worked for a really exceptional company? For me, that company was McCaw Cellular Communications. Like many companies, McCaw had its list of company goals and values.  The real difference was that everyone in the company truly embraced the culture, making a huge difference in how the company operated.

A positive company culture can drive excellent customer service, inspire the creation of superior products, and help develop an award-winning workplace, all of which provide fuel for growth and profitability. 

Here are 3 things every CEO can do to improve their company culture:

Start Now.  It is very difficult to change the culture once it’s embedded within an organization. Far better to set expectations from Day One. This means proactively screening candidates for culture fit along with other key attributes. What will drive success for your business? We often want our employees to be honest, responsible, customer-focused, flexible, innovative and efficient. Design your company’s personality to be the way you want your customers to experience it.

Lead by Example.  A company’s culture is largely determined by the CEO. You’re the one driving not only employee and customer satisfaction, but also the bottom line. As with any culture, people pick up appropriate behavior both directly and indirectly, through examples set by leaders. The CEO sets the tone for the entire organization and reinforces company culture through his or her actions. You cannot teach a concept just once if it is to be truly part of the company DNA.  The culture must be reflected consistently in every communication as well as explicitly discussed periodically. Live it.

Reinforce the Culture. Nothing demotivates hard-working team members faster than seeing someone get away with bad behavior or worse, get rewarded for it. Bad attitudes are contagious. It is always better to replace a bad attitude. This not only removes the negative influence, but lets everyone else know that bad behavior isn’t tolerated.  Of course, you also need incentives to encourage good behavior. Celebrate success, recognize excellence and innovation, and reward those who do the right thing.

Capital is hard earned. Product development costs precious dollars. And resources and customers are like gold. Company culture is a currency available to every CEO. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking it as a purely HR issue. It can make the difference between success and failure. Don’t leave that money on the table.

Published on: Dec 13, 2012
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