Strive for a popular culture

Sally Laker

Many struggling organisations have been turned around once the appropriate culture has been identified and instilled

We all know the importance of people to a business. And a good business ensures that its people know this too.

The term ‘company culture’ is often employed and many struggling organisations have been turned around once the appropriate culture has been identified and instilled. In the mortgage industry, the size of business varies from firm to firm but profitability, as always, is central. Creating the right culture improves staff performance and retention, which are major contributors to this end goal.

Big and small businesses face different challenges. Large organisations have many layers of management to work through and must ensure that the right message comes from the top, which tends to take time. Smaller businesses have closer contact with their staff but can take it personally when someone leaves; career progression is also hard to provide.

Golden rules
So how do you go about creating a good culture? In my opinion, the first golden rule is communication.

If you want loyalty from your staff, you need to engender trust and communicate to them what you wish to achieve, how everyone can contribute and how this feeds in to the end goal.

Employees find it rewarding to feel they are part of the business’s overall success, and they can gain a sense of belonging and purpose by understanding the importance of their role to the company’s strategy.

However, communication is a two-way street so it is also very important to listen to your staff. They will have business ideas of their own and, although some may be impossible to achieve, others may be brilliant. You should act on these great ideas and make sure everyone knows both what has been done and who suggested it. This tactic encourages employees to speak out. After all, the people who are actually doing the job are the best source of suggestions for change and improvement.

The right people
Another important element in fostering a company culture is the recruitment of the right people – central to which, of course, is the interview process. How about getting your staff involved in choosing the best candidate for a key position? The person who joins must fit in with the team and have the right attitude, as well as the knowledge to do the job.

When a new recruit joins your firm, ensure at the outset that they have enough training to do what is required of them, and that they feel valued. It is expensive to lose staff within their first six months. If this happens, consider objectively what you could have done better. Did they let you down or did you let them down?

Many businesses fall short when it comes to managing performance, with some regarding it as a hassle or too time consuming. But managing performance is probably the most important aspect of running a business. The good people want to know they are doing well and will seek to do even better when motivated by your feedback.

A blame culture and a bullying style of management have no place in a business. Managers with the wrong attitude can make employees afraid to speak up and terrified of putting a foot wrong. No one will want to be in that manager’s team and it gives the message that you, as the boss, do not care. Often when you tackle an offending manager they have no idea they are perceived in that way and, given the opportunity, turn their approach completely around.

Sunny staff
You should look out also for the ‘Michaelangelos’ – every business has them. These employees always deliver and bring sunshine to your firm. But you need to identify them and give them your time.

Looking after your staff creates a good culture because they then look after their clients, which in turn looks after your business. Achieving the right culture in a business brings rewards for managers and employees alike.

Sally Laker is managing director of Mortgage Intelligence