Chris Carmen  /   June 2, 2017

Do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall of your competitor just to know what they do to grow their business? What are these things that they are doing that you are not? You might be surprised to learn that it’s just the simple things that you ignore that make them successful. Let’s face it, highly successful companies and even the local hyped businesses cannot be successful without a great company culture.

Company culture is the personality of a company. It refers to the values and attitudes of employees in the business. It defines the environment in which the employees work. It includes different elements including the company mission, value, ethics, expectations, and goals. The workplace should not be a thing that people dread every day.  Your employees should enjoy their time at the workplace and in fact, should have a hard time leaving because they enjoy the atmosphere, their co-workers, and the challenges. The culture shouldn’t add to the stress of work but should be designed to alleviate the work-related stress. You don’t want a situation where you have to keep hiring new employees every now and then. According to a report by Dale Carnegie Training, a collective amount of $11 billion is lost each year in the process of re-hiring and re-training. The end goal of an effective culture should be creating an environment where employees want to stick around for the long haul.

Believe it or not, your competitors can teach you a thing or two about company culture. We are not saying that you should completely copy what your competitors are doing (you still need your own unique solutions to set you apart), however, there are times when learning from your competitors’ success can be highly beneficial to your business. Take a look at the 10 things that your Indianapolis competitors are employing in their businesses and can be able to teach you about company culture.

Your competitors make smart hires

When it comes to hiring, you want to be sure that you don’t hire the wrong people. Your competitors are successful because they have a rigorous hiring process to ensure that they hire people who fit into their culture. Have a structured hiring process that includes behavioral and situational based interview questions and online assessments. Hiring the right people is the single best way to reduce employee turnover. If you focus on quality rather than quantity when hiring, you will enjoy improved levels of employee engagement, retention and improved productivity in your company. You could be having high performing employees but then they don’t fit into your culture. Such should be terminated because while they deliver great services, their mindset is harmful to company culture and this has the potential to harm your business. It is paramount to know that the people you hire represent your work even outside the office. A person’s perception of your company can change based on their opinion of that particular individual. This is why it is vital to only hire people who share your company’s values.  Hiring just one wrong person can affect an entire department and even dozens of clients. Your employees will talk and if you don’t take any action things can get worse. Terminating that toxic employee will make your other employees feel appreciated and show them that you are serious about your culture.

Encourage open communication and feedback

No one has all the answers. One way that you can lose creative employees is by encouraging a situation where only the management makes decisions. As some companies expand and get bigger, employee freedom becomes limited. The employers believe that the employees should not be involved in key decisions and this implies that their impact on the business is drowned out. This slowly becomes a part of the company’s culture. Therefore, employees get used to just going to work, doing what they are told and waiting for the clock to hit 5:00 P.M. This is not the type of culture that the best employee wants. Your employees want to have a voice and impact on the company. They want to be able to speak their minds freely and offer their ideas without fear of embarrassment or losing their jobs. For instance, the Google News tool was created by a Google employee Krishna Bharat- it was not something that the management came up with. Today, it offers a platform where multiple sources on a given topic are assembled together. Encourage consistent two-way communications at all levels to ensure employee values align with those of the organization.

Company culture will foster responsiveness to change

A well-developed culture brings an increase in openness to change and the desire of employees to adapt to the changes. Your competitors promote trust and responsibility and this not only makes their employees initiate significant improvement in ongoing operations but also motivates them to bring new improvement ideas and initiatives that make the company more competitive. When your employees take the extra step to create change in your company you must be able to appreciate them. This will make them more productive and they will always look forward to coming up with new ideas that will take your company to the next level as far as market competition is concerned.

You are a team and not a bunch of individuals

Your competitors refer to their employees as a team and not just “employees.” When you view your employees as a bunch of individuals, everyone will see themselves as separate from each other and this means everyone operates on their own projects. In the case of a team, however, the employees work together on all work-related projects and offer assistance whenever a challenge comes up. This is like sports; the teams have worked together, encourage each other and communicate regularly. Those who don’t involve their teammates (known as a ball hog in basketball) impairs the team and this means that they will not work at 100%.Such people if not willing to change should be cut from the team. Teams work best when everyone is on board, helping each other and making developments together. If you have a bunch of individuals, they will become ineffective and therefore irrelevant. Having a company culture that addresses your employees as a team is the best and most efficient way to get things done.

Your competitors invest massively in employee education and development

Successful competitor companies wouldn’t have lasted as long as they have and stayed at the top if the employees didn’t continually improve themselves. Learning should be a continuous process if you want your employees to demonstrate value. You should invest in your employees for further growth and development. Learning will promote the growth of the talent pool and capabilities within the organization. The growth in knowledge and talent will put your company in a significant position to address economical, technological and social challenges for a competitive advantage. When you create a culture where learning is valued, you will be creating a strategic advantage for the organization. Your employees will even take the ownership of the learning materials and as a team, they will always ensure that your company’s library is kept both relevant and current.

Strong leaders encourage their teams to come to them with potential conferences to attend, certifications to pursue, or other soft skill development training opportunities.

Establish a fair and strong reward system

Everyone likes to be appreciated and so do your employees. They want to feel appreciated and rewarded for their hard work and contribution to the company.  This makes them gain a sense of purpose and gratification to know that their efforts are paying off. Hence you must establish a reward system that is fair to all as part of your company culture. Track their performance and make clear clarifications of their roles and contributions in the business. You should also be able to help them perform better and improve the results and more so, ensure that you recognize and appreciate their achievements with commensurate awards. These rewards should not only be monetary but should also involve things like flexible work schedules, generous paid leave, stock option and more. A company culture is not grown in the office during working hours.  To keep the morale of your employees up, host an event/party to celebrate good performance. In as much as employees want to feel that their contribution is important, they also expect the feedback and praise coming from you to be sincere. All this will solidify employee loyalty and increase retention rates.

Promote trust by operating with honesty and transparency

Trust is absolutely critical in the workplace and your competitors understand this perfectly. You should be able to create an environment where your employees trust each other and can even leave their personal belongings unattended without having to worry that someone else might pick them. You should only hire people who seem trustworthy but most importantly, make trust a company value with zero exceptions. Make transparency a part of your company culture in which your employees always know what is going on and their feedback is appreciated. This does not mean that you act on every recommendation, but rather, it makes your company open to dialogue. Some of the simple ways to promote transparency and trust include having company newsletters, town hall meetings, and informal fireside chats.

If you have them, let your customer service reps make their own decisions

This is a great element that you can add to your culture to set you apart from your competitors. Most call centers are set up by policies and this means that the customer service representative that’s answering the phone doesn’t really have the ability to do anything. If your customer service rep receives a call and the client asks for anything that not normal, do they have to talk to a supervisor first in order to know what they should answer?  If you want to build customer service through telephone, you should let your reps to do whatever they feel is the right thing to do for the customer and the company. Most customer service reps are not happy because they do not have control over situations, especially given the fact that they act as intermediaries between the customers and the company. To provide great customer service, it’s probably best not to go by the policies.

Your competitors have an alignment between values and behavior

A successful company culture involves the assimilation of the mission, vision, and core values of the company. Do you have set core values that guide how employees work and enjoy their personal lives? Your competitors have a successful culture that clearly states their purpose, what they believe in, what they stand for, whom their customers are, and where they want to be in the future. The values should be in alignment with the products, policies, and behaviors of the organization. Your company’s values should be seen in the people, products and space.   Use the values to select and develop the right talent. When employees are passionate about the values of your company, they will be dedicated to accomplishing the goals and be interested in wanting the mission to succeed.

Lead by examples

Culture starts with the leaders and then the employees model the set behavior. As a leader, you portray the character and behavior that will influence the behavior of others. True leaders lead their peers and subordinates. For instance, make it a point to be the first to arrive at work. If you are always showing up late, it would be right to say that you are setting a path that condones the others to do the same.  As a leader, you want to show your employees that you wouldn’t make anyone do something in which you wouldn’t do yourself. Your company culture is an addition to your own ethics and image. You are a model for what your brand should exemplify. Everything starts at the top and flows downwards and therefore, you should promote a mindset in which employees can prosper. Make it a point to also focus on the leaders and managers in order to have the most influence.

The benefits of a strong and thriving company culture include:

  • promoting the brand of an organization
  • establishing a foundation for success
  • increasing employee engagement
  • setting a company apart from competitors
  • attracting and retaining top talent
  • driving productivity

Developing a healthy working environment is not something that you can do overnight but once it’s done; it gives your company the competitive advantage. For startup companies, developing a culture is significant and should be done in the early stages. A well-developed culture will enable the company to create profits through the success of the company’s people, products, customers, and brand. To learn more about company culture and why every business needs to have it, call Carmen The Tenant Advisor at or contact us online. 

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