“10 Commandments” to Create a Strong Culture for Your Business

I had weekly meetings with a very busy General Manager. People would see me stepping out of her office and ask how I was able to get one-on-one time every week with the GM. I said, “I asked.” They actually thought that was a great idea. No one had ever asked!

In preparation for these meetings, I would build an agenda all week long. I made a deal with her: instead of me coming down to her office a few times a day to ask for some information I needed, to get direction for one of my projects, or to share a marketing idea I had I would build a list of these things which would be our agenda for the meeting. In exchange for not interrupting her all week long, she would give me an uninterrupted block of time once a week. To be productive in that business environment I had to learn how to manage the GM to accomplish what I needed.

To be productive in that business environment I had to learn how to manage the GM to accomplish what I needed.

As we met and I shared ideas I had come up throughout the week and went over the list of questions I had compiled, I began to see patterns. She was sharing an issue that had come up on the sales floor and had to decide which employee was in the right. I simply looked at her and said: “Well, what does the Policies and Procedures manual say?” She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. I said, “We do have a P&P, right?!” I quickly figured out that this business with 100 employees did not.

*Note: This post involves two lists: #1. P&P – a list of employee and business situations that arise, #2. Your 10 Commandments – a list of attitudes and actions expected of employees

There were issues like the one she was dealing with that came up regularly. I told her I could easily start a P&P for the business in a couple of days if she wanted. I told her “As situations like this come up, simply add them to the already compiled list of situations in this rule book that will be created.” I told her the best way to get this started is to think back on employee situations the company had to deal with like this:

  • An employee verbally asked a manager for the weekend off and was told it was okay, but no one except the employee remembers having this conversation. Now the business is short-staffed.
  • An employee was on a sales phone call and their coworkers in neighboring cubicles were playing around, yelling and laughing loudly, and the employee couldn’t hear the customer to complete the sale.
  • Two employees are claiming that a sale belongs to them. One says they started the order, so it’s theirs. The other says there was no information in the order and they did all the work and finished the sale so it belongs to them.

Create Your 10 Commandments List

After making this list of business issues set it aside for a moment to build a second list. This new list is your 10 Commandments list. This will help guide you through the process of building your P&P manual. It will communicate what attitudes and actions are important to you as a GM or owner.

For instance, if someone is looking to get married in the future, they might sit down and make a list of things they’re looking for in a lifetime partner: smart, funny, honest, loyal. You can do this same thing for your business by answering questions like “What characteristics should our business look for in a potential hire?” and “How do we expect our employees to treat customers and each other?”

You can use your 10 Commandments as a culture list to guide you as you respond to situations like those listed above. Here are three examples of things a business might include in their 10 Commandments:

  1. “We over-communicate” – When communication is important, we make sure there is a record of it, and that we clearly communicate what we want or need.
  2. “We respect each other” – We consider others’ needs over our own.
  3. “We work hard” – We seek to do as much as possible, not as little as possible. We always give our best work.

Add More Specific Scenarios

As you begin to build your list of “10 Commandments” (it doesn’t have to be exactly 10), go back through the list of issues that we first listed and begin to add these details and scenarios to your P&P. It might look like this:

  • Scenario #1 “We over-communicate” – When an employee wishes to request time off, they must verbally communicate with a manager. After that manager agrees, the employee must send that manager an email so that there’s an electronic record of the interaction. The manager must then reply to that email with official approval. The request is not approved until the manager replies to the email.
  • Scenario #2 “We work hard” – Any employee requesting time off must find their own replacement so that their shift is covered. Just like with our vacation policy the employee must have both verbal and email interaction with their co-worker who is covering their shift. This information must also be forwarded to the manager so that they know all shifts are covered.
  • Scenario #3 “We respect each other” – The sales floor is a professional environment and is expected to be treated that way. It’s important that we are aware of the needs of our customers and coworkers, and create an environment that makes it easy for everyone to succeed.
  • Scenario #4 “We work hard” – Although the first employee did begin the order so that they can claim ownership of it, they did no work to close the sale. There was not even a single item listed in the order. This order will be split, but in the future, there must be at least one item listed in an unfinished order for the original employee to claim it as their own.
  • Scenario #5 “We respect each other” – It is not respectful to your coworkers to do the minimal amount of work, so that you get credit for the sale, while they are having to complete the entire order on your day off when the customer calls back.

You are the leader, the Moses of your business, and as such you get to etch the 10 Commandments of your business. Building this list and sharing it with everyone will help to begin to set the culture of your business.

Building this list and sharing it with everyone will help to begin to set the culture of your business.

You can then use these broad principles to start your P&P manual. This manual is a rulebook or Bible that simply answers the questions: “How do we do business? What do we do in this situation?” As situations arise, consult your list of 10 Commandments. Display them prominently around the building for both your employees and customers to see. When a decision is made, simply add that to your P&P to communicate clearly to employees what is expected of them.

Doing this will help lessen frustration since employees won’t have to guess what’s expected of them. Also, this is respectful to employees because they can see that you were willing to take the extra time and effort to put this together when it would have been easier for you to just make rules up on the fly.

8 Tips to Help You Build a Team Culture and Increase Employee Engagement

If you are running a business, no matter what field you are, it is crucial for you to understand that your team is your company’s biggest asset. It is not your product, your address, or your name that would bring your company success.

It is the people who are working for you that can do that. They can also be the reason why your business could fail.

That is why one of the essential things that you do for your company is to build the right work culture.

This will ensure that your team stays happy, inspired, and engaged. But first, you need to establish what kind of culture you want to build.

What Does Team Culture Mean?

“I hated the culture there that’s why I left,” is one reason often mentioned by employees who resign despite having a huge salary or amazing benefits. There are also several issues where companies have such high turnover rates because of their “toxic culture”.

What is this culture that keeps getting mentioned and why does it have such a huge impact on the desire of an employee to leave or stay with a company?

Culture is the attitudes, values, behaviors, and beliefs that are shared by the people in a company, a department, or a team.

It is essentially how the people there work together in order to reach their shared goal, usually, this is to finish a project, win campaigns, or hit sales quotas. It also has to do with how the people in the company treat each other.

Culture is not something that you normally see in a company manual. It is unwritten and unspoken.

Sometimes a team can show their unique culture, something that is a little different from that of the company’s. However, in most cases, the team culture is influenced by the entire company’s culture.

Is Fostering A Good Team or Company Culture Necessary?

Good company culture is seen when everyone collaborates, shares their knowledge, effectively communicates, and supports each other. When people feel that they have a place in the team, they normally perform better.

When they feel that there is somebody that supports them, they tend to take greater risks and show growth. This is not only good for each employee but ultimately good for the company.

In an organization where the culture is strong, people take initiatives and they trust each other to do the right thing. If the culture is weak, most of the time, the employee would wait to ask each other if they can do something.

It is what is called a “permission seeking” environment. Projects get delayed because of this type of culture. That is why it is important to cultivate this “team culture”. It leads to autonomy. People who do not need to be managed to work faster and more confidently than those who require directions.

Here are 8 things that are practiced by workforces that have been able to build a strong team culture. You can try to apply these in your own situation and see how effective they are in inspiring and engaging your employees.

Set Your Visions and Assign Clear Goals

It would be hard to motivate a team to do something if they have no clear idea of what exactly they are working towards. You cannot just tell them to “do their best” when they do not know how you qualify “best”.

That is why you need to be clear about the team’s direction, vision, and goals. Establish what your “ultimate goal” is for the company. Lay down the values that you want everybody to have in order to achieve that goal.
When orienting a new hire, have your HR personnel highlight what his or her work is going to bring the company. Let the employee know where their contributions lead.

By focusing on the importance of one’s role in achieving the company’s ultimate goal, an employee is made aware of his or her importance. The employee is also made aware that his or her failures and short-comings will affect others. This fosters a culture of accountability.

Start the Change with The Leaders

The kind of culture that your company develops is the kind of culture that your leadership exhibits. If the leaders follow the company rules consistently, the team will do so as well.

The kind of culture that your company develops is the kind of culture that your leadership exhibits.

If they consistently act inappropriately, you can expect your team to start acting inappropriately as well. If leaders and managers let blunders slide without discipline, that will become the norm in the company.

Your company’s leaders should have a clear view of what your culture should be. This way, they can be the models that everybody else will follow. If you have your vision and goals in place, you will have a better idea of what type of culture to cultivate.

For example, if your business has to deal with strict deadlines, your leaders should know that tardiness is not something that should be taken lightly. They, in turn, cannot be allowed to come in late without sanctions because the employees will see this and start ignoring the rules as well.

Hire People That Have the Same Values as Your Company

Even at the very beginning, you want to make sure that you get people that fit right in. This is one reason why you interview an applicant, right? Besides discerning whether that person can do the job, you also want to see if that applicant is a great fit culture-wise.

Job skills are things that you can teach. Attitude, on the other hand, can be pretty difficult to change.

Additionally, when an applicant shows that his or her culture aligns with your company’s, you can be assured that that person will bring that attitude anywhere, even outside the office.

You have heard of employees who act one way at the office and then change completely when outside. Is this somebody that you want to represent your company?

Build Effective and Positive Communication Channels Between Managers and Staff

Effective communication is very important in any relationship. It is known that part of good goal-setting is being able to communicate those goals effectively to your team. Managers should be able to keep their teams updated with what needs to be done.

However, communication must be two-way. The team should also be able to tell the managers what they think about the work. Allowing the employees to be able to express their suggestions and feedback will help the leaders adjust their strategy in order to do the job better.

It is important for the leaders of the company to make themselves available to their employees as often as possible. Additionally, they need to show their staff that they can come in and not be punished for making suggestions and providing criticism for existing policies.

Being able to communicate in a positive manner will validate the importance of each and every employee’s opinion. They will feel that their input is not just necessary but is valued and taken into consideration.

Put in Place A Good System for Recognizing Accomplishments

Engagement is often achieved when your employees feel that what they do is being valued. When a company provides recognition for the hard work that employees put it, then it is making a statement that the contributions of the people working there are appreciated.

This has been proven many times. Employees value recognition rather than getting a higher salary. And the recognition doesn’t have to be grand.

Employees value recognition rather than getting a higher salary.

A small note from a supervisor or a 10-minute program to acknowledge a contribution by the people in a department can go a long way in fostering team culture and employee engagement.

Experts claim that focusing on recognizing milestones rather than profit foster a more positive culture in organizations.

Rather than look at how much your team brought in, managers are encouraged to acknowledge the small contributions that each employee made and highlight how this solved a problem for the team.

Regularly Hold Activities That Allow the Employees to Build Positive Relationships

Most workforces that are highly engaged allow their employees to connect with their coworkers and build positive professional relationships. Successful companies know the value of hosting regular events and gatherings that foster camaraderie and team building.

When coworkers are able to build relationships, they view each other as friends, people to help and ask support from. This creates an atmosphere of cooperation. It also makes coming to work more exciting for employees.

It has been proven that people who are able to make strong friendly ties with their coworkers report sick less often and are more engaged.

Allow Your Employees to Take Part in Activities That Foster Personal Development

Letting your employees know that the company cares for them, their wellbeing, and their future is a vital part of building a team that is highly engaged. How do you do this? Invest in your employees’ future by providing them opportunities for training.

When the employees see that you want them to improve, they will be motivated to engage more. Additionally, any skill that they acquire will bring improvement to the team in some form.

Have the managers take part in mentoring programs that would teach employees transferable skills. This way, they can bring these new learnings wherever they go.

Allow the employees to be part in decision-making activities, especially if the decision will have a direct impact on them. This way, they will feel more in control of what is happening to them in the company. By giving them this responsibility, they see their value and become more engaged.

Show Your Employees That You Trust Them

Micromanaging each and every task assigned to your employees will show them that you do not trust them or their capabilities to do their job.

Again, this leads to having your employees ask for permission every time they need to do something.

Once you have communicated the goal to your team, step back and allow them to do it. People who see that their superiors trust them to do the right thing feels more inspired to do a good job.

They become motivated to prove to their leaders that they can do what has been assigned to them.

Conclusion

Remember that highly-motivated and engaged employees care about the company and want the team to achieve its ultimate goal. They are inspired to do their best because they know that their actions solve problems for everybody.

They take responsibility for their actions and take initiatives. These are the type of people that you want in your company. In order to attract and keep these people, you need to build the right culture.

Follow the steps above and see how it will affect your team’s culture. Do you have other ideas on how to build a better team culture, shoot me an email at jeremy@longitudebranding.com

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