How to Create a Winning Business Culture

This is a guest post by Sandra Mills. Sandra specializes in covering management topics that are relevant in business and healthcare. She has managed both large and small projects on a number of occasions. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+.

When you’re trying to grow a successful business, attitude is often more important than specific skills and experience.  Someone who is eager to learn can easily be trained to meet your business’s needs, but someone who will only do the minimum to collect a paycheck will never help your business grow. Here are 6 ways to build a winning culture that will drive success.


1. Set clear goals

Employees who are eager to please can’t improve if they don’t know how you’d like them to improve. Broad statements such as, “Get better,” or, “Increase profits,” don’t provide a clear direction for them to follow.  A specific goal such as, “increase sales by 5%,” gives your employees a visible target to shoot for.  Once that goal is set, they’re more likely to know exactly what needs to be done to reach it.  Even if they don’t, they’ll at least know where to start to get there.


2. Make sure goals are reasonable

The goals you set can’t be too high or too low.  If they’re too low, they’ll be easily attainable and will create a culture of complacency instead of one of growth.  If they’re too high, employees might initially be motivated but then quickly realize they may never get there.  When that happens, morale will drop, productivity may return to or drop below previous levels, and future goals will likely be ignored.  Encourage employees to write down goals to stay focused. SMART goal planning (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) can keep goals challenging but reasonable.  Encouraging goals to be written down will keep them measurable and in focus as well.


3. Don’t lose sight of the big picture

The best employees still need a strong leader in order to function well within a company. When you’re setting your goals, always think about where you want your company to be in five or ten years.  For example, sacrificing quality may increase profit margins now but may also lead to customers who leave and never want to come back.  Try to make all decisions from the top down.  Come up with a true vision for your company, the main ways to achieve it, and then set specific steps employees can take to get there.


4. Promote responsibility

A winning culture must prove to be a culture of responsibility.  Your employees need to act like and believe that they are in the driver’s seat.  Excuses like the economy is bad or no one else is providing that level of services aren’t good enough. Employees should be looking for ways to make your company stand out so that it thrives even in hard times, and they should always be looking for ways to improve.  For that to happen, they need to know that they will be held accountable for their actions — both bad and good.


5. Align employee rewards with your goals

If you hire properly, your employees should be the type that generally want your company to continue to grow.  However, at the end of the day, almost all will only be there because they haven’t won the lottery yet.  To truly keep your employees motivated, make sure their compensation and promotions are directly tied to your long-term goals.  As with setting clear goals for your business, setting them for employee achievement gives them something to strive for.  It also reduces potential bad feelings about why some are getting promotions, raises, or bonuses while others aren’t.


6. Make sure employees remember to take care of themselves

Sick employees are unhappy, unproductive, and expensive employees.  This is not only through the direct costs of reduced productivity but also through related costs such as higher turnover and greater health insurance costs.  Employees who are healthy and fit are generally more active, more alert, and more productive.  Find ways to encourage your employees to regularly exercise and to take advantage of basic wellness habits such as getting annual flu shots.  Company sports teams or on-site visits by healthcare providers are often good places to start.

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