What does it mean to be “winning”? Does it mean you’re successful every step of the way? Does it mean you make the most money over your competitors? Not really, at least not necessarily. Fostering workplace culture that is considered “winning” goes much further than your bottom line. It has more to do with developing and nurturing an environment that is conducive to forward-thinking, a successful mindset and a deep-down belief that you’re all in this together. If you can bring people who work for you together rather than segment them, you’re taking a solid first step.

Think about Google, JetBlue, Facebook, Apple, Disney…these are all companies that are well known for their coveted corporate cultures. Sure, they’re wildly successful, but there’s a really good reason, and that reason has everything to do with employees and customers that truly love those companies. Eighty-one percent of business leaders say a company lacking a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity, with fewer than 10 percent of businesses succeeding in building an empire, according to Entrepreneur.

Importance of Culture

So, why is culture so important? It will set the stage for everything you do from here on out. If you’re a startup, you may feel a bit intimidated and even terrified of this statement. But it’s true: from your hires to the way you run your daily operations, you have opportunity upon opportunity to set yourself apart from all the rest. How you treat your customers, for example, is a big chunk of that. Another big chunk? Your leadership. Leadership is about what you do rather than what you say, with a healthy company culture emerging as a direct result of a leader who understands how important company culture is to the sustained growth of the organization, points out Forbes. So, whether you run a startup out of your garage or you’re the CIO of a big technology company, get back to your roots and build a positive workplace culture right in. You can’t survive and thrive without it.

Tips to Fostering the Culture You Want

It doesn’t happen overnight, but there are ways you can integrate a positive workplace culture from the get-go. Here are some tips:

Learn from mistakes: Not just yours, but other organizations around you. Take those lessons, internalize them, learn from them, and know what it takes to cultivate success.

Align your culture with your core values: Who are you? What is your business all about? Whether philanthropic in nature or customer-focused, infuse your passion into the workplace to encourage creativity, collaboration, work hard/play hard mindset: whatever it is that drives you forward every day, foster that passion in everyone who works for you. Your brand will follow you everywhere. Make sure it aligns with your core values.

Insist on open communication: The ability to build honesty among your staff is built on communication. Talking with each other is key. Encourage your staff to come to you with concerns, and address those concerns quickly. Make sure everyone knows their opinions are valued.

Have some fun: From craft beer Fridays to company outings to team building exercises like rock climbing or wine tastings, there are many ways you can join your staff together in a common interest and let off steam at the same time. Connecting on a level that doesn’t involve work always brings people closer together.

Be a community of believers: If your employees don’t believe inherently in what you do or sell, they can’t fully back it. Place a big emphasis on internal communication and orientation, and you’ll see results. Sustaining a positive work atmosphere means you have to show your employees why the brand they’re promoting is so great.

Work together: Building a sense of community begins and ends with a solid team. Rather than segregating departments of units, promote unity through all levels of your company, from founders to management to executives.

Grow your culture: This isn’t a “set it and forget it” job. Fostering a company culture that will survive takes continual effort. Like a lawn without water, your culture will die a slow death if you neglect it. Give your organization the freedom it needs to thrive and evolve. Remember, you will see fluctuations as it grows. This is normal and expected.

Whether you’re the genius behind a cool startup, or you’re the new CIO of a long-established company in need of a change of vision, you have the power to establish a winning culture people want to be a part of.

Some say customer service has gone the way of the do-do bird. For many it’s a lost concept, something that’s been buried over time in favor of the bottom line. But it says it all right there in the title: customer service. It means serving the customer, but it should mean so much more than that. As the leader of your company, you may have your neck on the line when it comes to cold hard profits. After all, you have a boss to answer to and he has a boss to answer to, and so on. Healthy positive earnings are rewarded, not necessarily the customer experience.

While you may have a fancy website, chat features, or even a robust e-commerce store, there’s so much more sandwiched in between the lines when it comes to truly understanding what “customer service” means. No, it hasn’t gone extinct, but it may be on the endangered species list. Something’s missing, that extra service with a smile, offering convenience to clients, going the extra mile to ensure someone is happy with their experience…that’s where so many companies fall short these days. It’s time to bring back the art of customer service.

At the Heart of It…

You can have the most streamlined services in the world or the best product…you can have the best CEOs in charge of your company or top of the line leadership teams converging in the conference room once a day to come up with innovative ideas. But customer service doesn’t happen in the boardroom or on a memo. It happens out there, with the people who are buying into your products and services. Customer service is more than just a phone number, more than specials and coupons. At the heart of customer service? People who care about the end result. Period. Who’s there to pick up the phone? Who’s there to solve a problem? Are there live people your clients and customers can speak to about an issue or do they get bounced around a virtual black hole until they’re finally dumped off to someone who doesn’t necessarily know how to help?

Just think about the quality of customer service in your personal life. Feeling valued is what makes people connect with a company. If you can’t achieve that, you won’t see repeat customers. Before you go thinking that a healthy bottom line means you automatically have great customer service, think again. Some of the wealthiest companies in the world have sub-par customer service, but this doesn’t necessarily make them great from a customer perspective.


A Simple Principle

It’s a simple principle: happy people come back to you, while unhappy people go elsewhere. Worse than that, they tell anyone who will listen about their awful experience. In fact, the Houston Chronicle says those who have bad customer service experiences tell between nine and 20 people, while people who have a good experience only tell between two and three people. Can you afford those kinds of repercussions?

Do one thing and do it right: make the customer feel they matter and that’s half the battle. Following through on that is also important, but that’s a story for another day.