Faust: Communicate & Leverage Your Cultural Advantage
Do you have a distinct and advantageous culture? Are your employees more engaged, happier and better in general than those working for your competitors? If not, then improving your culture must be a top priority. If so, then you will want to communicate your advantage to four groups to leverage it.
1. Communicating to customers about your culture’s strength will enable you to convey your uniqueness and the advantages you offer to those customers. Marketing will likely have to own this as sales may have trouble connecting a great culture with the hard dollar and soft value that it provides to customers. Benefits such as higher production quality and better service are all fine, but I believe that customers derive the most value from a healthy culture when it makes companies more innovative and customer-focused.
On one hand, Steve Jobs was an abusive manager with some of his direct reports and, thus, a bit of a managerial idiot savant. On the other hand, his focus on Apple’s higher purpose created powerful cultural momentum that amped up innovation throughout the company, not just those around him. Apple became so innovative that it didn’t have to tout its culture, but in fact, the two were connected. I see this in many of my best clients—a great culture and a highly innovative, ever-improving workforce.
2. Communicating to vendors about your advantageous culture can yield similar advantages. For example, when your vendors know that you are one of the best in your industry, they may be more likely to work advantageously with you to ideally price goods or share with you the best practices that they employ or that they see in other companies. I have even seen vendors share insights about the competition with companies that they admire due to those companies’ great cultures and the fabulous vendor-company relationship.
3. Communicating your great culture to competitors may sound counterintuitive. Many fear that competitors will begin to copy their culture, but the odds of that happening are very low.
Creating a culture is a philosophical decision, and companies rarely steal philosophy from others. It is hard to copy all of culture’s many and varied moving parts. By telling your competitors and their best employees about your great culture, the hope is that those employees may eventually seek jobs at your firm. Thus, your team will grow in strength, as your competitors will experience a drain on their human resources.
4. Communicating to the public about your culture has unique advantages for certain businesses and industries. This could be advantageous if your company needs favors from local communities or government. Businesses often must fight misperceptions in the marketplace, and a fabulous culture where there is a genuine love and concern for your fellow employees may alleviate negative PR faced by your company or industry.
You must not only build a great culture, but you also must communicate it!
Mark Faust, known as “The Doctor of Strategy,” is one of the nation’s top growth coaches to CEOs and vice presidents of sales. This was an excerpt from his book, High-Growth Levers, available from http://www.amazon.com. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of this new book.