Are you wondering how you can manage your competent employees whose behavior is not in line with your company values? We all know that approaching this in the wrong way will lose your top talents – quite possibly to your competitors, and the whole business’ competitiveness in the market. If you are looking for the answer, you might find it right from this article.
We have a wonderful opportunity to have a short Q&A session with Brian Fielkow, the owner of Jetco Delivery in Houston, Texas, and the author of Driving to Perfection: Achieving Business Excellence by Creating a Vibrant Company Culture. Brian has presented to thousands of people across the country on how to establish a healthy company culture which is suitable for keeping top talents motivated and engaged.
It is also worth mentioning that, as an active business leader and entrepreneur, Brian has been featured on NPR, WTOP Washington, America’s Morning News, and more, speaking on this and related topics, and is a regular contributor to the Houston Business Journal.
In this Q&A, Brian will talk about his latest book and issues in company culture every small business owner should focus on.
Noobpreneur.com (Q): Hi, Brian. Many thanks for the opportunity to talk with you about your latest book, Driving to Perfection. Here are the questions I’m sure many of our readers are dying to know about the answers. To get the ball rolling, can you tell me about your book, Driving to Perfection – what it’s all about and why it’s relevant to the challenges faced by many business owners/leaders?
Brian Fielkow (A): My book is a hands-on guide for business leaders and managers to create a healthy organizational culture in order to grow their company’s bottom line. I believe that the secret ingredient to a company’s success is its culture, and it’s essential for leaders to establish a culture in order to grow. There are a lot of books out there on this topic, but often they focus on theory and are geared to larger companies. Driving to Perfection is geared toward entrepreneurial businesses of any size and offers practical tips for creating and sustaining culture. My intention with this book is to offer advice to those who are looking to take their company to new heights, and I provide ideas and tools that leaders can implement.
Q: I understand that creating a vibrant business culture is challenging. But even more challenging is to change the engrained habit and belief in a company culture. What do you think we, as business owners, should tackle that issue?
A: Change is never easy, and employees can often be resistant to it. It certainly starts at the top, and creating a safe environment where employees are heard and know they are valued is essential. By clearly communicating the case for change, employees are more likely to be open to it and want to participate in the process.
Here are some tips to try when it comes to creating an environment that welcomes change:
- Management must move from controlling the outcome to empowering the team to create and implement change. Those who participate tend to support… those who are excluded tend to oppose.
- Make it ok for an employee – or for the organization – to admit a failure, accept accountability and commit to improving. There can be no fear of retribution; all new ideas are brought to the table.
- Understand and eliminate threats. Don’t leave your employees wondering “Will the changes result in the loss of my job or someone being promoted above me?” If these questions are not being asked overtly, they are lying below the surface. Anticipate and address your employee’s fears directly. Be sure to answer the all-important question: “What’s in it for me?”
- Clearly set forth the case for change. People should not expect to embrace what they do not understand.
- Set milestones for deliverables. Most people have no patience for an initiative that could take years to bear fruit. Even if the goal is time consuming and long term, ensure that the team can enjoy many tangible milestones along the way.
Q: Today, it’s all about tools – and how to use them. In creating a supportive culture, what tools a business owner should use – and master?
A: Sometimes translating ideas into action steps and communicating them to employees is a challenge. The greatest tool a leader needs is to anchor their culture. Here are some tips to do so:
- Create an internal brand around culture – it is important to have a well-known external brand to draw in customers, and it’s equally important to have an internal brand within your organization. Every employee must know what your internal brand represents.
- Operationalize your values – be sure that if you’re putting words on paper, you and your team are holding each other accountable for breathing life into those words and ideas.
- Employee integration is key – remember that every time a new employee joins your workforce, your culture has the chance to shift. Be sure you’re going through an established process to familiarize your new employee with your unique culture.
- A simple, written affirmation – have a written document that expresses your company’s culture, and consider this your “culture contract” between your employees and the company.
- Drive your culture home – it’s not just about your employees, it’s about their families, too. Consider monthly letters home, informing families what your company is doing and thanking them for their support.
- Culture and the community – give back to those aspects of the community which are important to your employees, and, at the same time, elevate your culture.
Q: My business is doing well, but it’s stagnant in sales. I feel that I have to “break a few eggs” so that I can breakthrough – any advice?
I don’t think it’s necessarily about a breakthrough; rather, it’s about the process and anchoring of your culture. Once that’s established, the sales will come; the positive changes will come. When I worked in the recycling business, we sold bales of recycled paper and cardboard to paper mills for thirty percent more than our competitor down the street. Commodity pricing wasn’t a secret – prices were published daily. Yet, our customers were willing to pay significantly more. Why? Because we had built a reputation based on integrity and reliability. That’s where our growth came from. Our customers paid for peace of mind. If you want to grow on the outside, you must first grow on the inside.