We find culture everywhere we go. Every country has a culture, every organization has a culture, every family has a culture. Everywhere we go we step into culture. We feel culture. Culture overcomes us, surrounds us, and thrusts itself upon us. You cannot escape culture. That is the cultural reality. When anyone walks into our organizations, in any way, our culture communicates messages to them. In any way, meaning, any contact point with our organizations: physical presence, phone, web, email, text, Social Media—any time they connect in any way.
Given that that’s the case why wouldn’t we intentionally, deliberately, and purposefully craft our culture to communicate the messages we need our customers to feel. Culture creation should be a primary activity of every organization.
So how do we do that?
Yes, with our vision and mission statement. Yes, with our defined values. But that’s not enough. A lot of organizations have nice sounding mission statements and altruistic vision statements. May companies have defined their values. But culture doesn’t work on a piece of paper, it works through people and practices. And by practices, I mean our physical realities: the environment we set up along with the processes we use, how we act, how we serve and so forth.
For example, the other day a few people were talking about a “sports bar” as they were discussing where to go to dinner. The comments were, “yea, they’ve got good food but their service is sluggish and terrible. You have to wait forever to get your food.” I’m not going to state what their vision statement is because that’s beside the point. The culture of this restaurant speaks louder than anything. Their culture says, “We’ve got the TV’s and we’ve got the beer, and that’s all that matters.” “You will tolerate our lack of service because of the TV’s and beer.” And, to some degree people do tolerate this. They put up with.
Apparently, this restaurant management feels you don’t care about service if you go there. This is a culture of mediocrity. Do you really want to have a culture in which your customers have to “put up with” something?
Contrast that with the hospital I was at the other day visiting my Son and Daughter in Law, before they had their baby. As we were leaving, there was an “executive” leaving as well. I assume he was an executive because he was wearing a suit. As we walked out the doors, he spotted several papers or candy wrappers that were on the ground and proceeded to pick them up and put them in the trash. It was clear to me that this was a culture in which everything you see makes an impression upon the kind of care you’re going to get when you come into this hospital. But a bunch of sick people go to hospitals, why would a couple candy wrappers matter?
This is a culture where attention to detail is important. The candy wrappers were symbolic of that. It speaks volumes and gave me comfort that the people I love were going to be well cared for.
The question begs itself: what is your cultural reality?
What message does it deliver?
What do you need to do to insure the message you want to communicate will get through to your customers in every way possible?