If there is one principle of which I am certain, it is that organizational culture drives results. Culture is why some companies have exceptional outcomes, happy customers and energized employees, and others do not. Culture is the great organizational differentiator; leaders who want an extraordinary company get it through culture.
I have seen the significant impact of culture firsthand. A multidecade career that started as a CPA auditing businesses in South Florida, which has included meetings with leaders worldwide and involved the acquisition of numerous companies, has provided me with an insider’s look at hundreds of businesses in many industries. I have learned that every company has a culture and, intentional or not, that culture is a significant driver of organizational results.
Culture is a critical part of our success at Correct Craft. At nearly every industry conference I attend, someone goes out of their way to tell me about a great experience they had with our team. This is no accident; we have a high degree of intentionality regarding our culture, and it shows. Our Correct Craft family includes several companies, and we see a direct correlation between each organization’s results and the degree to which they embrace our culture.
Culture has been such a significant driver of our results that we want to share with others how culture can help them, too. Our company vision has four pillars, and one is to model the benefits of culture in a way that others will want to emulate what we do. We have gone out of our way to evangelize the advantages of an effective culture, even hosting two Culture Summits for our industry that included hundreds of people, including those who compete with one another. We are happy to do this because we know great culture not only improves organizational performance, but also improves people’s lives. That’s important to us.
I am often asked how we developed such a great culture at Correct Craft. For many leaders, it seems like a mystery or just luck. It is not a mystery or luck; it includes a lot of intentionality. The good news is that any leader can establish a culture in their organization that both drives results and makes life better for their people. Here’s how to develop a great culture at your organization.
- Identify what is important to your organization. A vital role of every leader is to create clarity, which is especially important related to an organization’s values. This might seem obvious, but very few leaders do it.
At Correct Craft, we embrace the mission given to us by our founder nearly 100 years ago: “Building Boats to the Glory of God.” After our mission, we have been very clear on our organizational “why,” which is “Making Life Better.” By creating clarity around our mission and why, we are ensuring that everyone, most importantly our team, know that we exist for much more than building products and making money. As part of identifying what is important, we have stated that our values fall into three categories: people, performance and philanthropy. We have also worked hard to ensure everyone knows what is included in these categories.
- After identifying what is important to you, develop a tool to communicate what is important, so it is easy to understand. More than a decade ago, our team realized we had many important values, but we did not communicate them methodically and succinctly. We decided to fix that by creating what we call our “culture pyramid” (shown on the previous page). The culture pyramid captures what is important to us in a way that is easy to understand.
Every day, our team uses the pyramid to keep us on track. It often comes up in meetings when we are trying to decide a direction. We use it with outsiders to help them understand our values. When we talk to a potential seller about Correct Craft acquiring their company, I want to be sure they understand who we are, so I will be sure to go over the culture pyramid in one of our first meetings. Our company has no more powerful tool than our culture pyramid.
- Once you have identified your organizational values and created a tool to share them, you must constantly repeat your values. Share them over and over. Keep sharing your values until you are tired of talking about them and your team is tired of hearing them. Seriously. Good leaders work hard to ingrain the correct values into their organizations. If you are not intentionally sharing the values you deem important, other values will develop and probably won’t be what you want.
- Finally, leaders must model the values they have identified as important. Employees will always believe what a leader does more than what he or she says. For example, one of our fundamental values is “highly assertive, highly cooperative,” which we sometimes call “no silent liars.” We expect everyone to speak up in a meeting and share their view, even if it is different from the CEO’s. And as CEO, I know that if I don’t listen carefully to opinions that are contrary to mine and respect the team member who opened up, it is the last time they or anyone else in the meeting will speak up. Being a leader does not exempt you from the values; you must submit to them more than anyone.
Culture drives results. The steps outlined here can help any leader develop a great organizational culture.
Bill Yeargin is president and CEO of Correct Craft and the author of five books, including the bestseller Education of a CEO.
This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue.