I got asked this question the other day from an executive who openly declared they had a ‘black hat’ on. They were challenging more in order to help others understand why culture is important, rather than needing convincing themselves. A very relevant and sound question, as after all is said and done – how do we show that all the time, effort and money to develop our culture has been worth it?
I answered by recounting an experience I had. Whilst it happened some years back (pre COVID), it is as relevant and probably more so now. It goes like this… My wife and I had been discussing an overseas trip. We wanted our two young boys to experience a different culture, different people and lifestyles. Why? So they can learn tolerance, understanding and see how different, interesting and exciting the world can be, amongst many other lessons. We began to explore the possibilities – obviously endless, however we could only go at certain times of the year because of schooling, we wanted decent weather, and we’d settled on a number of countries.
I had some time set aside and started going around the travel agents collecting information and exploring possibilities. One agency I walked into had three people behind desks, all engrossed in a discussion, which on the surface seemed to be about what had occurred on the weekend. I waited patiently for someone to acknowledge me. I might add that there was a bell on the door which gave a little ring as I entered. After some time, I began to think that the conversation had much more appeal to the three behind the desk than helping me with my enquiry. I’d given it a few minutes, so decided this was not the place for me. Thus I turned around, walked out, and as I walked past the window I looked in to see somewhat startled faces on the three people.
So what did I make of that? Or perhaps I should ask – what would you make of that? Would I be correct in saying that customer service was not a priority? Was there any accountability apparent? I walked away thinking the business was not interested in a customer’s needs, wants, and desires, let alone the social niceties. I wouldn’t go back, would you?
My experience of the business was less than positive and they lost business as a result. In contrast the next travel agency that I entered I could see four people busy working, three with customers. The one without a customer looked up, made eye contact, asked if they could help me, invited me to sit down, and asked if I would like a tea or coffee – slightly different perception! And yes, I did end up working with them to create a great trip which the whole family enjoyed. All businesses sell something to someone in some fashion, and one important key is the service offered to the customer.
If you are happy, satisfied and motivated in the role, how you relate to others will be better than if you are miserable, demotivated or lacking engagement. The more positive the work environment, the more productive and more profitable the business will be than one which has a negative or toxic bias in their culture. So why is culture important to your business? Because people in great environments thrive and are more productive, generating the best business outcomes.
Image credits: krakenimages, Arlington Research, both on Unsplash