Consider walking into a real-life version of “The Office.” The inappropriate and morally questionable behavior of the staff would make you reconsider your decision to work with — or for — the company.
On the other hand, a stale, corporate environment where workers seem to endlessly stare at their monitors is even less appealing. This numb atmosphere that makes you want to run in the opposite direction is a direct reflection of the business’s practices, culture, and approach to people and service.
Picture your company the moment someone walks in the door. What does the energy feel like?
Your company has a vibe that’s either harming or helping your business. It’s time to find out whether you need to readjust your culture.
Identifying the Vibe
There are two surefire ways to get a pulse on the intangible “energy” your company is putting out into the world:
1. Ask Your Employees
The way your employees engage at work is a good indication of your company’s vibe. There are many ways you can work to understand their engagement, whether it’s through employee engagement surveys or by using more informal feedback, such as focus groups or town hall-style meetings. It’s important to measure this so it can be used as a baseline for tracking changes and improvements.
2. Ask Your Customers
Your customers know your business from the outside, which is an extremely valuable perspective. Ask your customers what it’s like to talk to one of your team members, or ask what they feel when they walk into your business. The vibe they get is the vibe you’re giving off, and their opinion is what matters.
What Makes a Good Vibe?
Once you’ve identified your company’s vibe, you can shape it to improve your business. These are some elements you should consider for a positive company vibe:
- A comfortable, lively, and inviting environment
- A set of core values that company leaders live and breathe every day
- A fun culture
- Team members who feel rewarded beyond their paychecks
- Commitment to the growth and development of your team
Think about companies that give you a good feeling. You’ll realize those companies embody these qualities. For example, if you fly on Southwest Airlines, you can feel the positive vibe when you board. Why? Because every aspect of the company is designed to exude that vibe, from the friendly crew to Southwest’s “no assigned seats” policy.
Another good example is Zappos. If you buy a pair of shoes at Zappos.com, you can feel the fun, helpful vibe from the time you place your order to the moment your shoes are delivered to your door. From free shipping and free returns to the fun and easy user experience on the Zappos website, every facet of the customer experience reflects that vibe.
Fix Your Vibe
Although it’s impossible to fix a bad vibe overnight, it can be done through commitment, a shared purpose, and the passion of your team members.
- Set a foundation by developing a vision every single person in your company can uphold. It should give your employees a purpose beyond their job description. This vision should be a motivating, repeatable identity statement that applies to everybody, from the founder to the newest hire.
- Create a set of core values with your employees that can be institutionalized and won’t change, no matter what. Values lead to pride in the workplace, and team members who are proud of what they’re doing naturally exude great energy.
- Enlist volunteers within your company who are passionate about improving the vibe, and give them the authority and autonomy to work on it. The best ideas for improving the vibe come from those doing the work. Establish a culture committee, and watch how people raise their hands to participate. Give them a small budget, and then let them run with it.
- Establish a culture of clear communication that opens discussion about changes and achievements so everybody can get credit for what they’re doing. Making team members feel valued and rewarded is the best way to create a better vibe.
By identifying your company’s vibe and empowering your team members to improve it, you can easily create a stronger, happier, and more productive workplace. Simply remember that your vibe begins with your team. If you can make your employees happy to work at your company, then customer loyalty and financial success will follow.
Paul Spiegelman is the chief culture officer at Stericycle and founder and former CEO of BerylHealth. He also co-founded the Small Giants Community with Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. He is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Office Depot’s Small Biz Club.com. You can read more at PaulSpiegelman.com. @paulspiegelman
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