The values and practices shared by the members of an organization are referred to as organizational culture. In a small business the culture is largely determined by the owner. A clear mission and value proposition are the foundation of positive culture. Communication of these objectives creates the culture of the business. And a solid strategy supporting the company mission allows members of the organization understand how to accomplish shared goals and objectives. Following are three points on business culture:
1. Business Culture and Mission Achievement in Automotive Repair
The foundation of business culture is shared goals and objectives. In the automotive repair business vehicles are repaired and customers pay for these services. However most small business owners have much greater ideas of service delivery and benefits they strive to provide for customers. The question to be asked is ‘Are these objectives clearly stated and communicated to all members of the organization?’ A clear concise mission statement and a unique value proposition when communicated to organization members will focus all on common goals and encourage unity of purpose within the business. Following are factors in mission achievement:
- The Mission Statement – The mission statement is a brief (usually one sentence) statement of the objectives of an organization. A well-crafted mission statement will focus members of a company on the overall goals of the business. A mission statement should not focus on earnings or profits but rather should simply and clearly articulate what the company seeks to deliver to customers. Qualitative adjectives can be incorporated into a mission statement to emphasize competitive goals (e.g. exceptional service, optimal delivery, etc.). The mission statement should be clearly communicated to all members of the organization and should be easy to remember. All should view the mission statement as the definition of the goals to be achieved in performance of responsibilities.
- Unique Value Proposition – The unique value proposition is a statement of what differentiates a company from the competition. Businesses succeed by providing value to customers and the unique value proposition aligns service offerings with customer perceived value while establishing differentiation and competitive advantage. All members of an organization should know and understand the company unique value proposition. With this knowledge people will naturally work toward the same goals.
- Company Strategy – While the mission statement and unique value proposition clarify what the business strives to deliver to its customers a strategy defines how it will be delivered. Business circumstances change and strategies must be formulated to support objectives accordingly. Strategies should be communicated to organization members so an understanding of how goals will be achieved is known by all.
2. Top Down Business Culture Definition in Automotive Repair
Business culture starts at the top. This is even more pronounced in a small business. Culture is largely based on principles and how people are treated. The beliefs and values of a small business owner permeate the work environment and employees adapt to the resultant culture. Understanding this – a business owner can work to establish a positive culture and therefore improve the success of the business.
- Direction – The way that employees are given direction on how to accomplish things has a huge impact on company culture. If orders are delivered in an authoritarian manner people will tend to do only what they’re told. If employees share in the decision process when determining how to accomplish things they’ll assume ownership of the outcome. People are different and some require direct management and need to be told how to perform their responsibilities. Others are better suited to being told what needs to be done and developing their own methods for achieving the desired outcome. A business owner must be flexible in this regard but the bottom line is that culture is positively or negatively impacted by the way direction is provided by the person at the top of the organization.
- Contributions – A business owner should honestly assess the ability of organization members to contribute ideas. Can employees make suggestions on how to improve business operations and are they honestly considered and evaluated? Or are their ideas put off, discouraged or viewed as complaints? What percentage of employee suggestions are actually implemented? Some business owners view employee suggestions as ideas that result in increased responsibility or expense to the owner. Others ask employees how they would implement the ideas, how much they’ll cost and where the funding will come from. Much more is accomplished with the second alternative.
- Feedback – Employee feedback is very important to business culture. Feedback can be positive or negative. If employees only experience negative feedback – that is they only hear about it when something goes wrong – they’ll most likely resort to doing only what’s required of them and will avoid responsibility. Some managers apply negative feedback with the objective of correcting a process to prevent the same problem from occurring again. This will result in the best possible outcome when something wrong occurs. Also if employees receive positive feedback when good things occur they’ll be more receptive to criticism.
3. Business Culture and the Work Environment
The culture of a small business is determined by the owner and can be either positive or negative. Business culture can have a significant impact on the work environment and ultimately business success. A positive business culture will affect productivity and the difference can be huge. Customer service – the ultimate goal of any business – will be impacted either positively or negatively by the underlying business culture. And business growth will be positive or stagnant dependent on culture.
- Productivity – A positive business culture will have a profound influence on productivity. In fact some estimates peg the affect at 20-30 percent. Establishing and cultivating a positive culture translates to business success. When members of the organization understand what company mission and objectives are everyone works together toward a common goal. Thus achieving goals becomes easier. A positive culture reduces workplace stress thus employees are happier and naturally contribute more.
- Customer Service – A positive business culture in turn leads to better customer service. Company mission and value proposition are directed at what will be delivered to the customer. When employees focus on accomplishing these things customer service naturally improves.
- Business Growth – Superior customer service leads to improved business growth. Customer retention rates increase and new customers are more readily acquired. A positive business culture leads to greater business growth and success. In fact business culture is one of the major contributing factors in business success.