What is the most important factor that drives the success of your business? Your products and services? Sales and marketing strategy? Special offers? According to Robert Richman, culture strategist, speaker and author of The Culture Blueprint, the answer is far more nuanced, and it affects all aspects of your credit union. The answer is company culture.
This books takes its lessons from Zappos’ corporate culture. It offers a mix of high-level advice with real-life tips on how become a more effective organization, whether your business is selling shoes online or growing a credit union. Richman distills his years of experience working with Intuit, Toyota and Zappos into a guided, step-by-step process to empower employees to succeed.
“By asking questions you open up space to the unknown.”
Culture exists all around us. Wherever you have more than one person in a space, culture starts to develop. Business as it is can be chaotic and unpredictable, but culture should be the known factor. Culture is built deliberate, by designing a strategy that determines which people are hired or what kinds of behaviors are desired or not accepted. Once you design the company culture, the results will follow.
The traditional role of a manager is to tell people what to do. But it’s sometimes more powerful to ask questions or open a dialogue. Instead of using one-on-one meetings to gather status reports – asking the typical “How is it going?” – try using your conversation as a power tool to inspire. You might say: “Please tell me what it is that you think I don’t want to hear.” This gives your employees permission to give a truthful response. This begins a new dynamic. In the next meeting, the manager has to work on improving the situation and change.
“Culture can be only shifted, rather than created.”
In an interview Richman said: “Leaders set a standard with the values and vision, the rest happens through the right language and dialogue. Saying what someone ‘should’ do doesn’t work, people don’t respond well to that. A higher leverage approach is to share inspiring stories and expectations and a clear understanding about what is required. Set standards that you stick to and everybody lives by or people will be asked to leave the organization.”
Richman has made valuable contribution to the leadership literature with a book that is highly recommended to credit unions. The author provides a structured approach for evaluating and co-creating culture in your credit union.