Roughly five years ago, few companies understood the role “culture” played in the workplace, or even what the term meant in the context of business. Although culture was slowly gaining recognition as a tool for growth, most C-level executives were focused on bottom lines, not crafting core values. But there was one notable exception to the status quo, and that exception was Cameron Herold, life-long entrepreneur, former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and author of Double Double. Before most people were even familiar with the concept, Herold was talking about the power of culture to boost employee retention, engagement, and work productivity.
Today, Herold mentors and coaches CEOs and their teams, helping them to harness their unique core values and culture to unlock growth from within. How does he do it? By keeping the following key insights about culture at the forefront of every strategy for business growth.
What are Cameron’s key insights?
- Culture is a choice. A lot of people talk about building company culture, but not many companies successfully pull it off. Why is that exactly? According to Herold, it’s because they mistake perks like “free lunch” and “on-site laundry” for actual company culture. But they’re not one in the same. Culture is by design, not by accident. That means you have to work to develop it from the inside out. Determine your core values, purpose, and what you stand for and it’ll become clear what kind of work environment you need to support those central beliefs.
- Lean out into the future. So you’ve made the choice to build an intentional culture within your organization? Great. Now it’s time take the next step, which is articulating what Herold calls your “Vivid Vision”. This is a 3-4 page written description of what your company looks like in the future. According to Herold, crafting a vivid vision gives you the ability to know exactly what you’re working towards. It’s also magnetic because of its ability to attract the right people to your organization, as well as repel the ones that aren’t the right fit.
- Find the right people. No matter how good your product or marketing is, what truly defines a company is its people. Look for the candidates who reflect your company’s core values and would be a good fit with your company culture. According to Herold, you don’t have to hold people accountable if you hire accountable people. So go ahead and hire the A-players–then step out of the way so they can do their job.
- You’re either on the bus, or off the bus. When you’re trying to build the kind of culture that propels your business forward, you can’t have employees that are anything but 100% on board with your mission and Vivid Vision, explains Herold. That’s where your recruiting and hiring practices are of vital importance. Figure out if you’re attracting the right people to your company and evaluate the employees that are already there–are they the right ones for the job? If they’re not, get rid of them right away. The cost of keeping the wrong person is significantly greater than if you cut them loose immediately, Herold explains.
- Get people in the right seat. So you’ve hired a bunch of smart, A-players–awesome! Now you have to get them into the right roles within your organization. Evaluate their strengths in the context of your business and figure out where they’ll contribute the most value on day one. In order to retain the best employees, you’ve got to make sure they’re in the right roles for their respective skill set. And remember, no matter how talented someone is, you can’t coach or train that person into competence in the wrong role. If they’re disengaged or under-performing, there’s a strong chance your A-player isn’t in the right role at your organization.
- Put your best employees in golden handcuffs. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, which surveyed 3,300 businesses and HR leaders from 106 countries, employers are facing a looming crisis in employee retention. Now more than ever, employers are relying on work culture to keep top talent and avoid costs associated with searching and training their replacements. This is exactly why, according to Herold, you’ve got to keep your best employees in “golden handcuffs”– that is, keep them engaged with their work, provide them with the tools they need to get the job done, and reward them when appropriate. And this doesn’t just mean pay them a lot of money–top employees don’t rely solely on monetary compensation to stay motivated–it means creating a fun, competitive, and flexible work environment that adapts to the changing needs of your A-players.
Want to learn more about leveraging HR for business growth? Start by downloading The Executive Guide to Growing Your Business, packed with 20 tips from business leaders on how to make tough decisions on everything from hiring to onboarding, to culture and beyond.