What is Your Business Culture? Take This Quiz
In business, we like to measure everything, don’t we? Revenues, expenses, profits, new clients, market share—anything we can count is somehow more important to us. But “soft stuff,” like culture, is really hard to measure so it doesn’t get that much attention on a daily basis. Should that worry you? Absolutely, because culture can help you win on everything else or it can destroy you.
As a marketer, I have learned to make sure there is science paired with all the creativity. Creating ways to measure marketing is key to getting better results and making the most of budgets. With this in mind, I decided to create a “Culture Quiz” to help people assess whether their culture is an asset or a liability, and then offer some tips on how to make culture a strategic driver that can help bring marketing to life, while also improving every aspect of your business.
The “Culture Quiz”
Answer each question according to this scoring key: 1 equals “no;” 2 equals “sort of;” 3 equals “absolutely yes”—
- Do you have a written mission statement that you reconfirm at least annually?
- Do you have a list of values and behaviors that describe the kind of people you want at your company?
- Do you make cultural fit a key factor in hiring and performance reviews?
- Do you fire people who are toxic to your culture, even if their individual performance is OK?
- Do you get employees engaged in fostering your culture at the grassroots level?
Here’s how to think about your score—
- 12-15: Great job, your culture is an asset
- 8-12: OK, but you can do better
- 1-8: It’s time to make culture a top priority
Why values and behaviors are so important
We all know companies that have great mission statements, and I’m sure you’ve also experienced the sad irony of a mission statement with no ties to reality. One of the experiences that drives me nuts is when I am on hold with a company and the audio message is all about how much they care for customers, and then the service interactions are terrible! The values and behaviors don’t line up to support the mission.
Where I work, we have four driving values: loyalty, humility, responsibility and productivity. Our mission is to improve our clients’ lives by helping them make better choices. Loyalty applies to how we treat each other and our clients. Humility means we are willing to learn and grow, and we never put our own egos first. Responsibility means we see things through and don’t point fingers. Productivity ensures we always work hard to deliver the things that matter. These values are the foundation of our culture.
We are very clear about this in the hiring process and the four values frame our performance reviews. We’ve thought a lot about the behaviors that go along with these values, and ones that are destructive. People who are having a negative impact on the organization are coached, and must leave if they can’t change—like rotten apples, they can spoil everything. Yes, we even have a culture committee that engages team members to help protect and build our culture so it’s strong and positive, fueling our mission.
What on earth does this have to do with marketing?
I know this to be true: Your culture will drive your brand personality, your client experience and your ability to attract and retain target clients. You can’t trick the public (at least not for very long). Having a strong culture is a marketing asset because some of the most attractive traits a brand can have in today’s marketing world are authenticity and likeability.
Here’s an analogy for you: 20 years ago businesses were on the “total quality management” bandwagon to apply real effort and business process to creating an intangible quality, which was believed to tie directly to profits over time. “Quality” was also a marketing buzzword. Today, we should have a process for building positive cultures that is just as deliberate and strategic. There’s a lot of work being done to correlate culture with business success measures to prove that a positive culture contributes to success, while a negative culture can drive a business into the ground. Make sure your culture is working for you.
Gail Graham is chief marketing officer at United Capital, a national partnership of private wealth counseling offices. She is responsible for all aspects of marketing, branding and lead generation as well as business strategy and planning. Follow her at @GailGrahamUC.
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