It is often said that people from the American Midwest have a work ethic like…
Your company’s culture is its personality. It is comprised of the work environment, employees and their attitudes, systems, and technologies, customer interaction and satisfaction, recognition of and plans for needed improvements, your ethics, mission, and values. Your culture is also your brand.
A company culture that’s ultimately focused on its people – employees and customers – will thrive.
It may surprise you to learn that technology is at the core of culture-related successes and failures. The right technology and business processes will point your company in the right direction, making it more people-centric while creating a well-oiled machine that prospers and grows.
Technology is Changing Business
Technology is accelerating and will continue to evolve with mind-boggling speed. Information is more readily accessible than ever before, workers can work from anywhere, mobile is replacing Macs and PCs, apps are the norm, and software can automate most business functions. To survive, no matter where you are in your business, you must embrace it and evolve.
Implementing strategic technology initiatives provides many benefits…
- Gain greater insight into your business – look forward, rather than doing business through the rearview mirror.
- Easily access real-time metrics for better accuracy in goal planning and forecasting.
- Quantify and reduce risks with greater visibility into the business and operations.
- Collect data, measure, and make key performance indicators (KPIs) visible.
- Capture reproducible processes, maximize efficiencies, and accelerate job performance.
- Improve customer communication – share and provide true and meaningful data to strengthen customer experiences.
- Provide platforms for employee collaboration and sharing.
- Create a long-term positive impact on company culture.
Which of These Companies Are You?
As you read the list, you’re probably wondering how true it is that technology affects every part of your business – even your people. Let’s expound on that with a couple of examples…
Business #1 – When you walk into this business, it’s adorned with wood-grain paneling, avocado green pleather waiting room chairs, and stained, old carpet. The receptionist is buried in papers and sticky notes and seems flustered every time the phone rings. Someone passing by has to physically find the person you’re meeting because he’s not near a phone. What message does this send?
Do you feel comfortable doing business with this company? Are you sure they’re organized and trustworthy? Do you suspect their success has been more luck than numbers? And how do you suppose their employees feel. Whatever they’re feeling is undoubtedly reflected in their work and their final product and – guaranteed – the customer is feeling it too. In one word, how would you define this culture? Harried. Dysfunctional. Outdated. Lacking. Dying. Surely not confident; productive; energized or efficient.
Business #2 – When you walk into this business, it’s clean, modern, and feels a bit like you’ve stepped into the future. The small sofas and armchairs are inviting, the stone floors are polished, and the open layout is energized by the people collaborating on the other side of the glass behind the front desk. There’s a polite receptionist who uses a tablet to alert your contact that you’ve arrived while offering you a visitor’s badge and a beverage. She is using the latest technology to do her job – not a sticky note in sight. How do you feel here?
Do you feel excited to stir up some business? Maybe you feel energized; like you want to be in on whatever it is that they’re doing. Are you confident that your meeting will be worthwhile with a definite direction? How about the employees. They’re probably referred to as “team members” and love what they do, so they are naturally more efficient. They, in turn, share that with customers without even trying. It’s easy to find one word to describe this culture. Positive. Electric. Productive. Savvy. Innovative. Collaborative.
Technology is a Tool, Not the Enemy
Of course, there are happy-mediums between these two examples, but they represent the road every business should take to build a positive tech-centered culture and ultimately increase the bottom line. We hear it all the time and we understand that implementing new technology can be intimidating – a “time-waster.” But, once you learn to use it, realize it’s not as hard as you believed, and see the incredible value and efficiency, you’ll feel it’s less the enemy and more your saving grace.
How to Start Changing Company Culture
It may seem overwhelming to get started, especially if you’re way behind. However, there are simple ways to begin the process of changing company culture through communication and technology.
Start by communicating with your employees and collecting pain points in meetings, through email or in offsite one-on-ones over coffee. Have an open-door policy and truly listen to their input. Very quickly, a pattern will emerge, and process deficiencies become apparent. Once you identify the low-hanging fruit, this is where you begin to make a change. Start small, with the most pressing and easily managed issues. Aim to get a few quick wins under your belt.
Now, it’s time to create a plan to remedy the pain. You may assemble an internal team or get an assessment from an outside source to determine the best technology to fix the problems. The initial solutions may be as modest as downloading an off-the-shelf software program and adding newer, faster computers and a few tablets.
What if the emerging theme is that everyone feels overworked, disorganized, and under-appreciated? You choose to implement the right technology and get them the training they need to do their jobs with greater efficiency. Now, there’s an increase in productivity with less stress and more confidence. They feel heard and appreciated. That’s just how easy it can be.
Continue to Improve Process for Customer Loyalty
Customers want constant, instant information. If you fall behind on giving them what they want and your story grows stale, they’ll start searching for a newer version of you. Even if you’re already tech-savvy, staying on the leading (not bleeding) edge must be a goal. Employees and buyers are getting younger and depending solely on technology for everything. They won’t tolerate old-school, non-tech systems as employees or as customers.
To continue to improve processes and stay ahead of your competition, it may require business automation expertise from an outside source. Custom business solutions that keep up with automation allow you to stop worrying about what comes next and have the benefit of real numbers, stable systems and processes, and a company culture that thrives.
The Bottom Line … Build Culture, Increase the Value of Your Business
With more insight, less risk, reproducible processes, increased efficiencies, solid tech, and a stable employee and customer base, the bottom line can be more easily understood and drastically improved. Investors and potential buyers become more attracted to your business, leading to significantly increased value and maximized returns. There’s no way around it anymore. Technology is imperative to stay in business.
The bottom line is that culture isn’t something you can plan – it evolves and it’s contagious. Stuck in difficult processes with old technology, left unmanaged, it can turn bad quickly and feel like a perpetual revolution. Using tech to establish a modern culture of open communication, efficiency, innovation, and collaboration leads to happy employees, happy customers, and an improvement in your bottom line. Now that’s evolution!
Our goal is to help businesses succeed and grow and get rid of the stigma that’s attached to technology that it is scary, difficult, and expensive. If you have any questions about this topic, we love to be a sounding board. We’re here for you – please feel free to contact us anytime. 877.377.SWIP