Culture is the most underrated business growth tactic of all time. But most companies get it wrong.

- September 28, 2022 4 MIN READ

We think things like marketing or sales tactics are what will help us scale our businesses, but in reality, culture is the most underrated business growth tactic of all time, says Daniel Franco, Creating Synergy podcast host and MD of SynergyIQ.

Think about it: if you have a healthy culture, your employees will be more engaged, innovative and productive, which will lead to better results for your company.

It’s a no-brainer really, but so many companies get it wrong. They perceive it as a ‘soft’ issue that isn’t worth their time or money. Or they think it’s the responsibility of the HR department.

The war for talent is more fierce than ever and employees are voting with their feet and leaving companies where they don’t feel valued and connected to their work. This means culture is the business growth tactic you can’t afford to ignore.

So, how do you get it right? Here are six tips (which go beyond the usual suspects of free lunches, clear values and flexible working) that will help you build a culture that drives business performance.

What kind of culture do you need to deliver the business results you want?

Before you start any team building exercises, you need to take a step back and think about the kind of culture you want to create.

What does a culture that drives business growth look like for your organisation?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. It all starts with taking a step back and doing a self-assessment of your current culture. This can be done informally, or you could bring in an external consultant to do a more formal diagnosis.

It starts with a crystal-clear direction

Where are you going? But importantly, why are you going there?

At my company SynergyIQ, we recently developed and launched our five year vision and plan, which includes our business growth plans. Every single person in the company knows where we’re going and why we’re doing it. This gives us a shared purpose and direction that everyone can rally behind.

Truly involve your people in setting that direction

This is important. Your employees are the ones who will be executing on your vision, so it’s critical that they buy into it and feel ownership over it.

It’s not enough to have a planning day and a shared lunch. You’ve got to ask questions, get input, and truly involve your team beyond tokenistic gestures and lip service.

It’s about demonstrating listening with action.

Clarity of action and expectation

Once you know where you’re going, you need to be clear about what needs to be done to get there.

This means setting specific goals and objectives and then cascading them through the organisation, so that everyone knows what they need to do.

Clear and constant communication is required to ensure everyone is on the same page.

This doesn’t mean all work and no play (quite the opposite at SynergyIQ!), but it does mean having a shared understanding of what success looks like and, importantly, what needs to be done to get there. Only then can you truly align your team and operations.

Culture is the most underrated business growth tactic of all time

Clear and constant communication is required to ensure everyone is on the same page. Image: Adobe Stock

What does it look like when you get ‘there’?

Be clear about the end point and what success looks like. This will help individuals and teams to understand how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture and the company’s growth.

And it’s not just about setting targets, you need to paint a picture of what success looks like so that people can see it and feel it.

Ditch the silos and break down the barriers

In order for your team to be truly aligned to your business strategy, you need to ditch the silos and break down the barriers that prevent information and people from flowing freely.

This can be a challenge in larger organisations, but it’s critical if you want to create a culture of collaboration and innovation.

At SynergyIQ, we encourage transparency and open communication across the organisation. Everyone knows what’s going on and we share information freely. This helps to create a sense of unity and purpose, as well as giving people the information they need to do their jobs effectively.

Be the sheepdog, not the shepherd

I recently interviewed Paul Edginton, the Chief Executive of Vinomofo on my podcast Creating Synergy and he said, ‘…if you’re leading a business then most people think you’re the shepherd, but you actually need to be the sheepdog’.

I loved this analogy and it’s so true. A good sheepdog rounds up the flock, keeps them together and protects them from danger.

In a work context, it’s about being able to guide and walk alongside your team.

Forget culture and think about people’s ‘experience of work’

My co-founder Michelle T Holland believes we should think less about our ‘culture’ and more about our people’s ‘experience of work’.  And she’s right.

It’s not about having the ‘right’ culture because what works for one individual or team might not work for another. It’s the sum total of how our work makes us feel individually– physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

It can have an enormous impact on our engagement and productivity, which all businesses rely on. It’s about creating an environment where people can do their best work and where they feel valued, respected and supported.

This means thinking about everything from the physical environment to the way you onboard new starters, to how you recognise and reward employees. All of these touch points shape people’s experience of work and ultimately, their engagement with your company’s growth plans.

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Now read this:

Why developing a strong workplace culture matters more than you think