Building a culture of dedication

In this article I explore how creating a culture of dedication could have significant benefits for your business.

I am sure that any business owner/leader counts a great culture as one of the key factors in the success of their business. But what does a ‘great culture’ look like. While that may well be different for different businesses, I recently found myself wondering how many people think about whether a ‘great culture’ is a culture of dedication?

Should that go without saying? Of course we all want our employees to be dedicated. But have you stopped to ask yourself what dedication looks like, and just how you can foster it in your company? And if you could build a culture of dedication, exactly what difference would it make to your business?

I recently had to spend a few days in an NHS hospital in the UK. Those of you that are from these shores will know the huge stress the NHS is operating under.

While in hospital I watched how the doctors and nurses showed an amazing dedication to their patients, and I really do mean amazing. What I saw was a team of underpaid people who cared for their patients no matter what the circumstances. No matter how stressful it got, they never seemed to become annoyed and never once did I hear anyone complain. They simply got on with their work – shift work no less: working around the clock, 24:7. I left feeling so humble, knowing that I could never do what those nurses and doctors do. Let me say, they have left a mark on me that will stay with me for a long time.

Clearly since I never stop thinking about business, I got to thinking just what an impact this sort of dedication would be in any business. Imagine if you could create this sort of culture of dedication, where your employees come to work because they genuinely enjoy making your clients happy. Where after interacting with your company the client leaves thinking “wow, what service”. Now sure this is quite idealistic, but thinking it through opened my eyes to certain possibilities and pause to dig a little deeper into what we mean when we refer to a ‘great culture’. Like many business leaders, creating a great culture has always been a keen focus, but to witness such an example of a culture of dedication, I realised how much else would fall into place if one concentrated on this as a metric.

Clearly most roles in most organisations are quite different than the ‘calling’ of doctors and nurses but I thought about what factors could be relevant to inspire a similar dedication in other businesses. So here you have my thoughts on how a business leader might think about fostering a culture of dedication in their organisation.

You as a leader

It starts at the top. If you personally are not 100% dedicated to what you do, and the success of your company, then you have very little chance of inspiring dedication in your employees.

Recruitment

Clearly one of the easiest areas to look at is recruitment. It’s easier to hire the people with the right attitude than change bad attitudes in the ones you’ve got. During my time in the hospital I asked a senior nurse her thoughts on what created this culture of dedication. She confirmed what you might imagine: that it’s because they chose to work in an industry where you work for the love of what you do, not for the love of money. Therefore in recruiting for a culture of dedication you might say new staff members should be chosen not just for their skills, but on some more critical criteria:

  • Fulfillment: find people that just don’t like what they do, find people whose work genuinely fulfils them.
  • Alignment: that their beliefs/goals align with your company’s purpose, the reason that company exists.
  • More than money: find people who are inspired by the company and the role, not by they pay packet. If they want the position only because of the amount of money they can earn, then will dedication to the business ever be the reason for them being there?
  • Interpersonal skills: you want people that like dealing with people and have strong interpersonal skills. In order for the culture of dedication to have the desired effect of client satisfaction your staff need to be superior at dealing with people.
  • Flexibility: you want staff for whom ensuring the right result for the client is more important than being out the door the second their official workday ends.

Pride

The same nurse said secondly they all shared the desire to be rated as the best when compared other hospitals; that when their patients left they would say if you had to be in hospital then this hospital was the one to be in. The staff shared this common goal of therefore being the very best at what they do. It personally mattered to them. What could you as a business owner do to instill this sense of pride within your organisation?

  • Vision: make sure all employees are aware of the company’s overall ‘vision’ and believe in the company’s purpose.
  • Competition: build up a little (healthy) competition. Share KPIs with the staff and let them know how the company is doing against its competitors. As a side note, don’t be fearful about doing this even if your business isn’t near the top. Staff can still have immeasurable dedication to an ‘underdog’.
  • Celebrate: share your successes with your team.
  • Positive feedback: always let employees know when they are doing well.
  • Get them involved: ask your team for their ideas on how to improve client satisfaction. They are the ones working with them each and every day. Since they see the problems they are well placed to see the solutions. But in terms of pride, it’s the asking for their opinion that makes them feel involved.

Compassion and customer service

A culture of dedication is all good and well. But how can you make sure that the dedication your staff feels to their jobs and to the business is reflected in the service your clients feel they receive? I would suggest you need to look at how to build compassion into customer service:

  • Process review: go through your customer-service protocols with a fine toothcomb to see where opportunities exist to allow employees to demonstrate their dedication.
  • Allow a little freedom: if you’ve got the basic processes and protocols in place and you’ve hired/motivated the right team members, then allow them a little flexibility around these. Don’t enforce responses down to the word or else the genuine sense of your culture of dedication will never have the chance to shine through.
  • Service with a smile: make sure that service feels personal, that the first and last impression a client receives is feeling so very welcome. Ensure they receive a genuine sense that your employees want to help them and that nothing is too much trouble. You want them to feel that your business is a place they want to come back to, a place where you might even go so far to say that they feel among friends.
  • Focus on referrals: what if your no. 1 goal was that every client left feeling they needed to tell friends and family about their experience and an overwhelming desire to recommend your business?

As a side note, I would add that a business owner must ensure they are told when client complaints do occur. You can’t solve problems if the only news you hear is the good news.

So there you have my thoughts on building a culture of dedication that can hopefully apply to any business. To finish up I’ll leave you with a quote from John Strelecky (The Big Five for Life):

“If people can be successful doing things they don’t really care about, then they should be wildly successful at something that actually matters to them.”

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. Visit LinkedIn to read the original article and the comments it received.

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