The only thing guaranteed in business – like in life – is that we will have to overcome challenges. Some are worse than others, but the way you see them is what makes the difference in whether you successfully navigate them. Do you freeze in fear or do you lean in?
The fact of the matter is: If your company culture is healthy and strong, you’re going to be able to pivot and pivot well.
As Chief Operating Officer of Televerde, I lead hundreds of contact center employees across ten global engagement centers (seven of which happen to be within the walls of womens’ prisons). If we can find a way to foster a positive culture of personal growth and upward mobility – believe me; you can, too.
As a company with a more than 25-year tenure as a sales and marketing extension of some of the world’s largest companies, we’ve learned a ton about the leveraging our positive culture to get us through uncertain times.
If you are so inclined, go read more about our business model and the amazing results we deliver here. However, this article is not about us, it’s about you, and the steps you can take to improve your company culture to maintain business and revenue continuity.
A must-have, not a nice-to-have
You can offer great pay, incentives, and benefits; but if your company is a dreadful, soul-sucking place to work, you will inevitably experience high turnover and poor productivity.
Fostering a positive company culture is not just a nice thing to do. It’s a necessary endeavor that will impact your bottom line tremendously. After all, it takes happy, loyal employees to acquire and maintain happy, loyal customers.
How do you want your company to be perceived? How does culture impact business health? What steps do you need to take to create and maintain a positive culture? Let’s walk through the five essential elements of a positive culture – with steps you can take to start improving yours today:
1. Strong leadership
Leadership changes, policy changes, and growing pains can all adversely affect your company culture. Like all organizations, these are things we are dealing with constantly at Televerde. But in the face of uncertainty, we are taking a proactive approach to maintaining a positive culture.
Changes with the company as a whole can cause pushback that will negatively affect your culture; as products, policies, and procedures are constantly evolving. Transparency in these uncertain times is key; and regular all-hands meetings to discuss these changes are important, as every employee wants their voice to be heard.
Don’t forget to ask your team directly what they need from you as a leader. And when you do ask for feedback, listen. Take their ideas and opinions into consideration – doing so will prove to your employees that you truly value and appreciate them.
2. Invest in your people
Paychecks notwithstanding, training is the most valuable thing you can offer your employees. Like many things in life – when it comes to your team, you get out what you put in. The investment you make into your team’s professional development will go a long way towards improving performance, morale, and culture.
Strengthening your employee base will strengthen your company in more ways than one – through increased sales, retention, and customer satisfaction. And the stronger the employees, the stronger (and more resilient) the company.
Make deposits – not withdrawals – into your team. Investing in your team’s future is just like a savings account at a bank. When times get tough, and you need your teams to lean in, you have something to withdraw. Most leaders make the mistake of making withdrawals without ever making a deposit.
3. Stronger as a team
Take a minute to consider your employees’ ability to work as a team. Do they build each other up, are they competitive in a healthy way? Do they share their secrets to success with each other?
As Mr. Hagen says, “Stop finding ways to be against something and start looking for ways to be for something.”
Businesses across all industries are rife with cultural issues, as employees are often fiercely competitive and secretive. When your team instead directs that shark-like ferocity towards outperforming your competitors – and actually working as a team – magic can happen.
Your team should be lifting each other up when someone is struggling, helping one another to reach their full potential. How do you put these ideas into practice? Enter: Mentorship.
Systemic peer-to-peer mentorship programs are beneficial for all parties involved; and they can create a family-like (and performance-oriented) atmosphere overnight. It’s imperative that companies understand how to effectively execute mentorship programs when trying to recruit and retain top talent.
At Televerde, we have strong leaders and mentors that provide coaching and lead the way for new team members. Our mentors know that both positive and constructive feedback are equally instrumental in helping one another thrive.
4. Live and breathe your values
Organizations frequently espouse values like ‘respect, integrity, and tenacity’ related to delighting customers and developing employees. But when it comes to actually living these stated values, many companies fall short.
According to a recent Sirius Decisions Brief, training and resources all-too-often encourage behaviors that are “clearly inconsistent with the organization’s values.” One example they include is how “companies may claim they value the voice of the customer, yet they train their [sales team] in combative objection-handling techniques.”
This disregard for values and integrity contributes to a negative culture.
Speaking of living your stated values, let’s talk about respect. Ask any employee what matters to them most – and “respect” often tops the list. Yet, recent headlines have shone light on the blatant disrespect and uncivil behavior happening in the workplace.
I recently came across an article in Harvard Business Review featuring Televerde that discussed the issue of declining workplace respect. It stated that there are two types of respect in an organization:
- Owed respect, which is “accorded equally to all members of a work group or organization. It’s signaled by civility and an atmosphere suggesting that every member is inherently valuable.”
- Earned respect, which “recognizes individual employees who display valued qualities or behaviors.” (not simply manager preference or seniority)
5. Keep it light
We’re all human, and all this added stress and uncertainty can wear even the most thick-skinned employee down to the bone. That being said, make sure to break up the monotony of remote work with some virtual ‘fresh air’. Give your team room to blow off some steam.
In the new remote environment, we have team ‘hype-sessions’; and on Friday afternoons, crazy hat or wig contests. Setting aside time to relax and refresh will work to increase performance and promote team-bonding.
Giving your team some ‘work/life balance’ shows your employees that you care about them and value their wellness.
Culture comes first
Culture is the key to success in business operations. Without Televerde’s commitment to culture, we wouldn’t have made it this far. We are a people-first organization – we recognize that things like family, recognition, and camaraderie tie everyone together. And we place these things first.
Your culture is the lifeblood of your organization; and the health of your culture will determine whether you survive this crisis.
Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen recently discovered that every decade, almost 50% of Fortune 500 companies cease to exist.
According to would-be investors, a healthy culture is the best indicator of a company’s long-term success. Are you doing everything in your power to strengthen yours?