How to Develop a Positive Culture

Patricia Sherlock

Today, I would like to continue our discussion on the importance of having a positive culture in a sales organization. While the research is clear that companies with a positive culture outperform those without one, the real question is how does a manager instill a positive culture within his or her group?

A positive culture starts with engaged employees. Engagement is a popular term often heard in business circles but not very well understood. Engagement is typically defined as a quality of employees who are willing to give discretionary effort; who care about the organization; and who show a willingness to recommend the company’s products and services. Most surveys show that roughly 65% of employees are at least somewhat engaged at work. However, only 21% of employees are fully engaged.

While having engaged employees is integral to having a positive culture, studies have shown that it is only the first step in the formation of a positive culture. The other two critical parts are empowerment and high-energy environment.

First, we will address engagement. What does it look like? Studies have shown that companies with highly engaged employees have a clear mission and values as well as expectations that are well understood by every employee. Mission and values are not just words plastered on the wall but are lived and repeated daily throughout the organization.

Additionally, managers in high engagement companies ensure that their employees’ work and actions are aligned with the company’s larger purpose. In these cultures, employees are well-matched to their positions and the warm body approach is not supported. Managers agree that not every person is a good fit with their company regardless of the candidate’s previous experience. In positive cultures, a rigorous selection process is part of how companies maintain their culture.

Likewise, employees in positive cultures also feel a sense that they will grow while working at the company. Upon hiring, most new employees have personal development plans so they can reach higher levels of competency and impact. For example: Even if an employee has been originating for 20 years, he or she can still improve their sales knowledge. If a person does not want to learn new skills, that is an indicator that he or she will not fit in with a positive culture company and should not be hired.

After engagement, empowerment is the next critical part of a positive culture. Being empowered is more than having the right tools or systems. It requires managers to be leaders, give clear daily direction and help remove obstacles and challenges for the employees. It is about supporting the employee to maximize performance. With support, there is an expectation that employees will be held accountable for their actions. Employees are measured frequently and given feedback on their performance. Poor performers are addressed quickly in a positive culture.

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