Business Owners Toolbox Blog Discussions and articles to help the small business owner solve the challenges they face as they grow their business.

September 24, 2009

Who Is the Carrier of Your Company’s Culture?

Filed under: Growth Management — Tags: , , , — Mike Van Horn @ 4:15 pm

Q. If I have a virtual company, how can I have the kind of company culture I want?
(question on LinkedIn)

A. Who is the carrier of your company’s culture? You, of course, plus the people who work for your company. (And to an extent, customers and others who influence it with their expectations.)

The less continuity in your workforce, the harder it is to sustain a desired culture. If it’s just you plus a bunch of subs and virtual assistants, there will be a culture, but it may not be the one you want. You’ll have to work harder to maintain a culture of shared mission and commitment and productivity among people who work with you only some of the time and have little invested in your success.

I have many small business clients that have key players who work remotely, even on different continents. The owners sustain the desired culture among the far-flung folks by:
— Paying attention to it. Knowing what culture they want and continually pulling people and operations toward that.
— Selecting the right people. It takes a special person to be able to support your desired mode of interaction when they are half a world away
— Having regular face-to-face team interaction. This usually means getting people together for special events, but video conferencing can work also—at least for some of the interactions. And cost decreases make this increasingly feasible for even small companies.
— Rewarding those who act in congruence with the desired culture, and eliminating those who won’t.

Even a tight-knit group working physically together will pull against you, and test the limits of the cultural norms. This is even more prevalent with remote team members. You as owner are the ultimate keeper and enforcer of the culture.

I have a downloadable piece titled “Build a Culture of Growth” that goes into this more.

Or call or email me with your challenge. I’ll be glad to talk with you – at no charge.


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