Every business has its own culture – whether orchestrated or not. And while it can be set in place by management, the true test and worth of a company’s culture is how it is carried out in the office and out in the field.
Culture extends far beyond “Bagel Friday” and annual recognition programs. It is also reflected in the way clients treat you. For instance, do you have clients who are straightforward to work with and pay their bills on time? Or are you top heavy with clients who consistently make unreasonable demands, constantly price shop and are slow/no pays? Do customers stay with you? Are they well known in their industries? Are they active in their communities? The quality and reputation of your customers speaks a great deal to your quality and reputation. As the saying goes…like attracts like.
Does your company care about its customers? Is there a professional sense of urgency with each client? Is your staff comprised of competent, well-trained and congenial people and do they have the skill and confidence to do what it takes to fully assist the customer? Are they quick to resolve a problem or do they foist the blame on to someone else? Do they respect their employer…and conversely, do they feel respected by their employer? A strong company culture is one that appreciates and empowers employees.
Cultivating a strong sense of community and family is at the core of a positive company culture, for it creates an environment people want to be a part of. That said, sometimes the sense of family is so strong within a company that it takes precedence over business for a moment.
Anecdotally, here at Bay Copy, we experienced a pair of very difficult situations in 2017 that served to reinforce the value of a strong company culture. A 20-year employee – a highly valued member of our technical staff – unexpectedly passed away. To say the least, this was an enormous shock to everyone on an emotional level and it also left a big void in our technical staff. As painful as this death in the Bay Copy family was, it brought us together as an organization. We grieved together and then moved forward to address the business needs that were impacted by this devastating turn of events.
This past year, we also dealt with extended medical leaves for two key employees, both out at the same time. Once again, we were able to get through this trying period as a united staff, due in no small part to our strong company culture.
We also recently needed to “part ways” with an employee who had been with us for a relatively short period of time, roughly three years. When pulling this individual’s personnel file, I was surprised to see it was about eight inches thick, so I knew a change was necessary. Just for the heck of it, I pulled the file of a staff member with us for more than 30 years and discovered there was nothing in it…totally flat! That was revealing to me, so I looked a little further and realized that all our long-term employees – those here for 15, 20, 30 years – had small files.
Does this have a lot to do with company culture? I think so.