Corporate culture seems to be a hot topic with so many startups and tech companies on the rise. No matter what type of business you run, you can take a page from the startups’ book and focus on molding your company culture into a positive, respectful environment that embraces innovation and change. Depending on the size of your organization, there is a good chance that you, as a leader, experience a certain amount of disconnectedness from the day-to-day operations at the customer level. Although valuable insights can be gained by spot-checking interactions and reviewing customer feedback, the people who really know what is going on are the people on the front lines of your customer-facing enterprise. These team members have good ideas about what would improve things in their specific departments, and tapping into their knowledge and experience can make a huge difference toward successful implementation of your cultural vision.
Ask your team members what ideas they have. What is one thing that might immediately improve service in their department? If you have a large team, you might ask this at the department level. Ask each department head to pose the question to his or her team and compile answers. Asking this question accomplishes two things: First, it fosters two-way communication. Knowing that their ideas are being solicited and listened to keeps employees engaged in the company’s vision, mission and service culture. Second, it breaks growth down into its most basic components, beginning with ideas and not asking for anything more at this point.
Once you have a list of ideas, divide them broadly between what is immediately possible and what may be possible in the future. Then begin a dialogue about the ideas that are either easiest to implement or have the potential for the highest impact. Ask for input from other departments and from entire teams. The conversation has begun.
Now that the ideas phase is well underway, you can segue into the implementation phase of innovation. Taking the same approach you took with the first question, ask your team members what they will individually do today, this week or this month to implement change. By now, your people will have had time to process the ideas that flooded in during phase one and should have a good idea about the direction the company is taking. Asking each and every one of them what one step he or she will commit to taking to advance the mission of the organization may be enough to ignite a feeling of excitement about your overall vision and culture.
Now that you have asked these two questions and created a collaborative spirit among your employees, continue the process by helping each individual to see where he or she fits into the grand scheme of things. Transformational leadership is not limited to simply inspiring others with one’s own ideas. It also involves creating an atmosphere of trust, responsibility and teamwork in every aspect of your organization’s culture.