By Don Wenner, Forbes Real Estate Council Member. As published in Forbes
Everyone seems to be discussing work culture these days. Cue the quintessential startup workspace, consisting of pingpong tables, beanbag chairs, free snack carts, and cold brew on tap. Most businesses are great at acting the part, but time and again, we see a concerted effort put into developing a culture program that ultimately wanes to give way to traditional financial priorities. Incorporating a long-lasting culture in the workplace is paramount and provides innumerable key benefits, including increased productivity.
A Firm Rooted In Core Values
Early on, being part of a business that embraces core values definitely struck a chord with me since they clearly define a firm's brand, character and even behavior. So many offices are filled with disengaged employees who work what they believe to be 9-to-5, day-in and day-out drudgery. Leaders should be reading books specifically around the topics of leadership, business development, marketing, and autobiographies of notable leaders, all of which can help determine specifically the kind of company you wish to grow.
Next, you should concentrate on the development of your company's core values (we have nine), which should reflect who you are as a company and the kind of team you want to build. Embrace your core values, and more importantly, believe in them, allowing continued, exceptional growth as individuals and as a team. The most significant core value to my firm is the 20 Mile March, a concept developed in Great by Choice by Jim Collins. It’s a concept that has had a long-lasting effect on my approach to business.
The 20 Mile March means that we as a company continue to march consistently, each and every day, hitting targets regardless of the prevailing conditions and favorable or unfavorable economic climates. Too many organizations do the opposite by allowing the outside world to dictate their activities.
The Elite Execution System
The Elite Execution System is my operating system that drives a cohesive integration of the four quadrants of a business: strategy, operations, people and acceleration (sales and marketing). This coordinated system helps everyone speak the same language through clear communication focused on keeping all parties aligned with the organization's top priorities through accountability, issue solving and providing clear alignment. The center of this operating system is culture. At my firm, we focus on building a culture of leadership with a mantra of “leaders made here,” and a culture of execution that is simply “getting things done.”
Center your operations around your compass, which is the vision and direction of the organization and should include purpose, mission, core values, three-year target and one-year bull's-eye. This allows for acceleration and execution in order to meet and exceed your goals. I fully believe in a concept I call “right people right seats,” which means not only attracting, training and retaining employees, but also encouraging them to further develop as producers and leaders. The right people are those whose behaviors match your core values.
Growth And Development
Another integral asset of thriving company culture is continuing to share what team members have learned. Leaders and staff read books on leadership, personal growth and a positive mindset, and team members take part in active discussion and share their takeaways with each other (think of it like book club, but in a much more meaningful aspect when it comes to productivity — both individually and as a team). Groups can meet on a regular schedule, in person and/or by way of technology, for a powerful discussion. In our firm this is part of the Driven For Greatness program, which also entails a health component — members receive activity trackers to incorporate everyday healthy living, and participants pair up for discussion and introductory sessions.
It’s imperative that businesses help their communities, and that they do so in a tangible way. Giving — monetarily, physically and spiritually — will help others in need and create a positive environment that encourages paying it forward. Doing good for others simply feels good, and keeping that positive energy front and center will continue to drive productivity and promote strong company culture.
Create New Traditions
Learning and growing, not standing still, are what will keep a company’s culture going. Recognize your rock stars with various team member awards, and host annual parties and picnics. Maintain an evolving culture that will spark new interest, new ideas and an energized momentum in any company. Great culture and results come when your consumers and team members are aligned with who you are. In other words, there is a fusion of brand and culture.
Culture has and continues to play a pivotal role in any company's current and future success. Building and maintaining culture requires tremendous effort and a continued focus. It must be intentional and a top priority of the organization, or great culture can quickly become toxic culture. Leaders must be focused on continuing to attract, develop and retain gritty, driven, positive people who exude humble confidence and will help to achieve your firm's goals of providing amazing, innovative real estate solutions.