I am in the process of opening a second business location (it’s in the works; we’ll announce it when we have things like an opening date!) and, as Grant Cardone would say, the whole thing is giving me better problems.
We can’t escape problems entirely ever, but I think most of us would rather deal with the problems of having 10 million dollars than the problems of having 10,000 dollars! Life is not really about getting rid of our problems, but instead about putting ourselves in a position to face better problems.
One of our ‘better’ problems is this second business location thing communicating company culture. I can’t be more than one place at once so we have to set the tone of Anchorspace’s culture at two geographically different locations without me having to defy relativity by being at both.
I think a big part of why most companies make their employees go in a location and sit on their butts in a chair for X hours a day (even if location isn’t important to the job) is because they are either:
a) too lazy to communicate the company’s culture or
b) they have no idea what their culture even is.
How do I communicate our Anchorspace culture across two locations so we attract the right kind of customers and create a really amazing environment for everyone? How does anyone do that?
Option 1: Staff/Board Training
One way to communicate corporate culture is to make sure everyone is working from the same knowledge base. When you ask someone to ‘greet the customer,’ what should this person ask or tell the customer? At Anchorspace we made a ‘member wall’ in our main office with everyone’s name and face. So when a member walks in, we can greet them in a different way than someone new. We may ask a member if we should make another pot of coffee whereas a new person would be offered a tour.
Clearly this option takes more time because it involves working with people one on one or in a group setting but I like that it gives people input. If people are remote, I don’t see how this couldn’t be done with video trainings coupled with regular check-ins during which there is a clear agenda.
I know for our marketing company, our yearly retreat is super helpful in getting everyone reinvigorated and on the same page. Here’s our process and a sample agenda if you are interested in running a retreat with your small team.
Option 2: Reinventing The Employee Handbook
If you want something a bit less hands on or time intensive, why not revisit that stale employee handbook you have? (I haven’t looked at ours in a year and I’m not even sure Jane and Nate have seen it!)
A handbook not only gives your new hire the information they need and covers your butt as the employer, but it can also communicate work culture. Here are some non-stuffy examples (one involves an interactive website; another finger puppets): https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-news/pages/unique-employee-handbooks.aspx
Think of your employee handbook reboot as a way to address corporate culture in a fun and memorable way.
Option 3: Clear marketing messaging, online and off.
Do you refer to people as customers or clients? Or maybe you say community members or partners or cowpokes?
I know it seems pretty basic, but picking a word for the people who spend money with you definitely is making a decision… And with your business you’ll make seemingly endless, little decisions that all add up to a culture.
What kinds of adjectives you use? Fonts and graphics? Descriptors? Sotheby’s International Realty are the most detailed marketing guidelines I’ve seen, from acceptable email signature formats to how headshots need to be taken but it does explain their consistency across their international range of markets!
A lot of people refer to these as ‘branding guidelines’ but for most people, that’s things like logo treatments, acceptable fonts and colors, and other design elements. But being comprehensive and making sure you use similar tone of voice and more subtle forms of branding will definitely set the tone for your company culture.
Are you like me and just haven’t necessarily given a ton of thought to this? I know I didn’t think I was very particular… until someone else was doing the work, then suddenly I had all kinds of opinions.
In other words, having a company culture and communicating it not only attracts the right customers to you but also prevents you from becoming a controlling jerkface kind of a boss, which makes everyone happier. Win-win-win.
So give a thought to your company culture because as you scale up or even change course, it’ll give you a lot of direction. And if you want to geek out, this is an article I’ve bookmarked for detailed future reading: https://emplify.com/blog/company-culture-examples/
Vivre your corporate culture!