Live your message

Friday, July 31, 2009

Q. How do I know what our company culture is?

A. When I began researching and studying culture in American business, I found one of the simplest definitions to be “How we do things around here.” “We” refers to employees, including management. “Do things” indicates the behaviors and actions of everyone, and “around here” defines your physical environment - your store(s). This definition puts culture into visible, recognizable chunks that empower you to look for and watch your culture in action.

Culture is the values, behaviors and accountabilities that exist, whether they are identified or not. They convey a message to your employees and customers. It is vital to step back and recognize them to clearly identify where your company’s values and priorities are. When you begin to take a closer look, you may find that the words in your mission statement, for example, do not live in the actions and behaviors of the management team and employees.

An effective business strategy needs to include company culture. Identify and define it. Clarify if it is in line with your vision. Are there changes that need to be made? If so, what do those changes look like? Visualize the culture you want to have and the message you want it to convey. Describe the areas that are not congruent with your vision and begin to map out the attitudes and behaviors that need to change for your culture to deliver the message you want. Write it all down.

But actions speak louder than words. Be your message and live your message - from the top down.

A good, solid culture can help a company get through tough times, and in our industry, we know tough times. Culture can be a competitive advantage; make it yours.

Kelly Franko is an industry trainer and business coach. She can be reached at 330-989-2944 or