By Ted Schuman, CEO, PlanetOne Communications
Corporate culture defines a company. It defines what kind of a workplace you offer employees and how those employees treat your customers and partners.
Every company leader should take extra care to define and build a culture that properly reflects positive values – good relations between managers and employees, a spirit of cooperation, and a gratifying customer experience. You don’t want culture by convenience because that can send your business in the wrong direction. Instead, you should work toward providing a great place to work and a business that keeps customers coming back because they’re treated right.
Here are some best practices for establishing a desirable corporate culture for employees, partners and customers:
Lead by Example
Corporate culture starts at the top, with executives leading by example. If you just sit behind a desk and issue edicts, you won’t be as effective as leaders who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and spend time with their team, their customers, their partners and their prospects. If the phone rings, answer it. If the trash basket is full, empty it. Your employees will take the cues and pretty soon they’ll be doing the same. Leave your ego at the door; it won’t help you achieve success.
Get everyone in the organization working toward common goals by setting the right expectations. Those expectations should revolve around providing excellent service to the customer, which requires a culture of open communication and responsiveness. If a client requests a quote, train your associates to acknowledge it promptly so the customer doesn’t wonder if it was received. The quote should be prepared and sent to the customer in a timely manner – and the customer should be notified when it’s on the way.
The same goes for any other type of communication from a customer or partner. Associates should be conditioned to always acknowledge emails, phone calls and any other type of communication. If they can’t reply right away, they should let the person know they will get back them as soon as possible.
Show your employees, partners and customers your appreciation. Sending handwritten thank you notes to partners and customers for closing a great deal is a nice touch. The same goes for acknowledging gifts. Also consider picking up the tab whenever you have lunch, dinner or just coffee with suppliers, partners or customers. Don’t assume the other party should be the one to pay.
Internally, showing appreciation to employees goes a long way to motivating and exciting your workforce. For instance, consider rewarding associates in some way whenever you meet your monthly goals, be it by buying them dinner, giving them tickets to sports events, going on a bowling or golf outing, or even something more unusual like bringing in a massage therapist on Friday afternoon. This builds spirit and increases the likelihood of meeting goals in the future.
Just as it’s a good practice to celebrate company successes together, it makes sense to seek everyone’s input when things don’t quite go as planned. If you miss your monthly goal, invite everyone to a meeting to discuss the possible causes and how you the company can do better. Take the feedback seriously and act on it whenever appropriate. This helps instill a sense of belonging across the staff; it makes them feel everyone’s views matter.
The same applies to partners and customers. Consider creating an advisory council to get ideas and feedback. Send out easy-to-answer surveys to measure your partners’ and customers’ satisfaction with your business – and be sure to share survey findings and how you plan to act on them.
And Don’t Forget
Take care of the basics. Good manners still go a long way, not only internally but also with partners and customers. Always maintain good communication with employees and show how much you value them. In addition to a 401K with matching contribution, consider profit sharing. The bigger the stake in the company, the better your employees will be. And you’ll be the better for it. That’s what a good corporate culture is all about.
Ted Schuman founded PlanetOne in 1992 located in Scottsdale, AZ. Under his leadership and direction the company has become one of the largest and most respected Master Agencies in the telecom and IT industry. PlanetOne has been recognized for its exceptional growth as one of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc magazine since 2011. Additionally, PlanetOne has won numerous awards from the industry’s highly regarded companies such as Level(3), CenturyLink, XO, ACC, Masergy, Windstream, MegaPath, Telesphere and InContact.
Ted Schuman is a Founding Member of The Alliance, a consortium of the industry’s top distribution partners, and also sits on several advisory boards for many of the top carriers globally.
Mr. Schuman served honorably in the US Navy from 1982-1986.