Or woman, of course… regardless, as the dust settles on another year and Christmas is over, many of us return to our desks in the New Year refreshed and full of good intentions for the year to come. Perhaps the Christmas break felt like it dragged on for far too long and you couldn’t wait to get back to it and be ‘productive’, or maybe you felt it wasn’t long enough and you could easily have another couple of days out. However you feel on January the 2nd, the simple fact is; it all starts again.
Hopefully, time away from the business will have given you a chance to reflect on the year just passed; the achievements, the highs and the inevitable lows and the things you could have done better. Reflection often helps forge the path for the future and no doubt you will return full of ideas and plans you just can’t wait to put into action.
This New Year enthusiasm can only be a good thing, even if for some of us it may be short lived. To do lists and resolutions are great, they help you to make sense of the ideas you have in your head and allow you to put them on paper or on your laptop so they actually become ‘real plans’. A list is measurable; these are the tasks, now make sure you tick them off. They may be short or long term goals, but no doubt each one will require a fair bit of effort to complete.
That’s why sometimes it’s more important to focus on the journey. I know what I want to achieve personally, or what I want my business to achieve, but how do I get there? How do I create a culture that allows my business to thrive and my objectives to be met? We would all love to increase our profits and that would be a perfectly normal goal to set for your business at the start of a new year, but how do you actually do that? Buy cheaper? Streamline production processes? Win more new business? Each one of those objectives has a mountain of work and effort behind them to make them achievable.
So often we focus on the finish line and pay little mind to the journey of getting there. Creating the right ‘culture’ within your business may seem like a long term project that you just don’t have time for when there are far more pressing matters to be dealt with. But small changes lead to far bigger ones. If you have a set of principles or a framework by which your business stands by, nothing is misinterpreted or misconstrued. Everyone understands what is expected of them, of their work, and everyone is aligned and working towards the same objectives. You stand by your word, your commitment to produce the best possible products or deliver the best possible customer service to your clients. Your clients know what to expect of you, and they inevitably expect a lot, but you’re happy to be scrutinised because you know that what you do stands up under pressure. The culture you have created, that you continue to work on, doesn’t allow you to deviate from the plan and the objectives you have set.
On average, it takes around 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. Exactly how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances, according to research conducted by Phillippa Lally then of the UCL. Habit’s are often associated with negative behaviour but good habits are hugely important to the culture of a business. When you can implement good habits, and more importantly when everyone understands why these habits are so important, it is far easier to achieve consistency. And not just a base level of consistency, but being consistently good at what you do. In a work capacity, how many people can explain what they do but not why they do it? People can intimately understand their role and the processes they are responsible for but have no idea what happens once their work is done and the next stage of the process begins. Departments and teams work independently of each other, never seeking to join the dots or link their processes because ‘this is how we’ve always done it’.
The culture of a business knits everything together. It’s why we do what we do and the values we represent. It’s understanding why we get out of bed everyday to come to work, not just to pay our bills and mortgages, but why we specifically choose to work for this company when they are hundreds of thousands of others out there. It’s acknowledging the importance of our colleagues and their contribution to the process, and if you’ve hired right, it’s giving them the freedom to take ownership of their part of the process and trusting them to deliver results.
The culture of your business may not be high on your list of priorities when ‘real work’ often gets in the way, but good habits can start small. Consider these principles when you look to implement, adjust or encourage your working culture:
1. Recruit well: An obvious one, and one we’d all like to think we do properly, but the team really are the backbone of any successful business. Passion and commitment over experience (where possible).
2. Communication: Perhaps the single most important aspect of any business. From top to bottom, and everywhere inbetween, communication is key. Be clear, be concise, and have patience with those who may not immediately understand what it is you’re trying to convey.
3. Good housekeeping: The menial tasks, the ones that don’t necessarily generate income but are essential to contributing to the ‘wellbeing’ of the workplace. Treat your working environment the way you’d treat your own home. Clean kitchens, tidy work stations etc etc.
4. Work hard but don’t overwork yourself: The culture dictates we work hard to be as productive as possible, but don’t burn yourselves out. Manage your time effectively and ensure you make time for yourself.
5. Be ambitious: Strive to be the best at what you do but don’t limit yourself. Always look to improve.
6. Encourage ownership: Give your team the freedom to do what they’re good at and encourage them to take ownership of their roles and be pro-active.
7. Be prepared to learn: Everyone you ever meet will know something you don’t.
8. Listen: Really listen to your team and your colleagues. The most important aspect of any conversation is listening.
As you settle back into your working routine in 2020, try taking some time to think about what you would like to achieve this year. On a business and personal level, as often the two are intrinsically linked. Of course there will be tasks that remain the same year after year, but perhaps looking a little deeper at the culture of your business will give you food for thought. Is everything underpinned by the principles you want your business to stand for?
“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.”
David Cummings, Co-founder, Pardot
From all at The Business Board, we wish you good health and prosperity for 2020.
If you would like to talk to us about your own finance options or exit strategy, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office on 0118 338 1818.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]