I'd like to talk today about really important decisions that you need to make if you're just starting your business, which are equally important if you're in business for a really long time, but you want to accelerate your progress in your growth.
What is Organizational Culture?
If you're a new business, this is foundational, and if you're somebody who wants a bigger future, then it's transformational. What am I talking about?
Well, I'm talking about values and workplace culture. The company culture that you have in your business determines how successful you are, and that culture is based on the values that you select. I'm implying here that culture is intentional, and it should be. But it can also be organic, and I'll explain what I mean by that in just a minute.
How Are Culture & Values Different?
The values of your company should not be changing with the time - they are what you stand for, what you believe in, and what you want others to think and expect when your company is mentioned. This could be honesty, excellence, strength, efficiency… you decide on these when you create your mission and vision statements, and you make them percolate through your entire organization.
This is the sum of all these values plus the many workplace habits and atmosphere that is created when people work together. Some companies encourage solidarity, while others make their employees compete among themselves for bonuses. Some companies foster social interaction outside of work, while others frown upon it. This goes all the way down to the workplace and influences employee’s attitudes toward work, clients, and each other.
Let's decide that you want to have a vibrant culture, fast-growing, high-performance, with great employee engagement, based on a whole bunch of things that are really important to you. I'm going to say that's a “blue” culture just for the purposes of my illustration.
Imagine I've got a glass of water and some food dye here, and I'm going to intentionally create a beautiful blue vibrant culture in a cup of water. This is the culture that I want to have.
To keep a blue culture, I've got to keep blue as my most important value, and I'm only going to hire people that are blue, because I want to reinforce a blue culture for the long term. Now, that's an intentional corporate culture, with organizational behaviors following the company's mission statement, and job opportunities being filled with team members who are compatible with the strong culture traits I want.
There are many types of organizational cultures, and other cultures (like hierarchy culture)arise differently. However, most businesses have cultures that are organic, and they change over time based on the people that are coming in and going out of that company. Without intention and guidance, a company will develop its own culture, based on the personalities and values of management and socially influential employees.
What influences your company?
Now consider this: if I started with a blue culture, but I added a couple of green people, guess what happens? I no longer have a blue culture, I've got a green culture! And this type of culture is not what I intended. And if I add some red people into the mix, then I have a culture that is not at all blue, like I started with. And if I added some yellow folks into that culture, it gets muddier still.
If you don't pay attention to being intentional about the culture that you want, at a high level, and working with human resources or a staffing agency to hire people based on those values that are bedrock to your culture, you will end up with a color that is most likely not blue.
Your culture must be intentional, and it must be reinforced by the people you hire - they need to naturally agree with your values for this to work.
How Do You Redesign Your Organizational Culture?
Now let's say you've been in business for a really long time, like my company, which has been running for 12 years. And one day we look at our culture, and we realize that it just grew organically, and the way our people work isn't the culture that we want. So how do we get back to a brilliant blue culture? Well, you have to start over. And you start over by saying, “We want to be blue”.
To get back to the blue culture you want, you set your goal to be beautifully blue, and you invite everyone that maybe isn't blue, to be on a different team. Because there's nothing wrong with being yellow, or green or red - it just means that you should be on a yellow or green or red team, not on a blue team.
So you invite those folks to find a better place to be, and then you just add back people who are naturally blue. Now, this sounds painful, and it can be. But it can also lead to the transformation that we're talking about.
When we did this at One Agents Alliance, we had a lot of turnover.100% over three years, in fact. But you know what else happened? We grew 326%.
Of course it would be better if we just started intentionally with a blue culture, and only built from there, but we had to start over again.
What I want to say to you is this:
If you're a new agency owner, decide who you want to be, decide what you want to be and be relentless about hiring people that are in agreement with those values.
On the other hand, if you've done as I did, and your culture went muddy because you weren't paying attention, don't despair, just know that it's going to take you a few years to get from here to here
When you do that, your growth, your happiness, and the way in which you're able to deal in the marketplace are going to be transformed. Something to think about.
Always keen on helping others make their dreams come true, Tony and his team have helped independent agents grow into more than 250 independent agencies. This has made OAA the number one ranked Strategic Master Agency of SIAA for the last 5 years, and one of Oklahoma's 25 Best Companies to Work for.
Tony loves to share his knowledge, insight and wisdom through his bestselling books as well as in free mediums including podcasts and blogs.
Tony and his family are members of Crossings Community Church, and he is very active in community initiatives: he’s chairman of It’s My Community Initiative, Inc., a nonprofit working with disadvantaged people in Oklahoma City; and chairman of the Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs., and he has served through many other organizations including the Salvation Army, Last Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Rotary Club.
In his spare time, Tony enjoys time with his family. He’s also an active outdoorsman and instrument-rated commercial pilot.