by Jonathan Sacks, CEO and owner of the PUSH Agency
Culture, whether deliberately developed or created by happenstance, is an undeniable fact of human behavior, showing up in the context of a community, a home, a workplace. It shapes the way people interact with one another, how they achieve goals, and how values are displayed. In business, wise leaders are recognizing the importance of cultivating a work environment that fosters employee satisfaction, a sense of camaraderie, and ultimately success for the company – research even shows that workplaces where culture encourages employees to own their happiness and share the company’s vision will outpace their competitors. Happier employees and a better bottom line – who wouldn’t want that?
With an office-based staff who spends the majority of the work week together establishing culture can be challenging, although doable. But what happens when a business is dependant on seasonal, per-diem, or distance workers who don’t experience total immersion in the company culture every day?
Below are three solid tips for cultivating a strong company culture, even in a structure reliant on remote teams:
1. Tailor your core values to apply to specific teams.
Core values are the first step toward building solid culture. Think of them as your North Star. They set the focus and tone of the company and give your team a deeper purpose to work toward each day. While the overall mission of your company will always remain consistent, you may find that different teams need their own unique set of philosophies to help them be most effective.
The corporate team here at the PUSH Agency functions under seven key core values, some of which include “Be a Family,” “Be Zen,” and “Be Better.” The challenge with our business model is that we are dependant on both an internal team as well as constantly revolving remote teams. These remote teams are not only representing our company to our customers, but they’re also representing our customers’ brands. We’ve discovered the most important elements of our brand ambassadors being most successful are to be early, be committed, and be happy. Thus, those have become the core values for our remote teams.
The internal team manages the external team, so as long as they’re living and breathing their core values, there is a trickle down effect which helps the brand ambassadors excel at their duties.
2. Before you commit, make sure it’s a fit.
Working with per-diem staff requires a different approach. Our first step in ensuring the cultural fit is a screening process. We look for those who are adaptable, engaging and professional, so before we hire them for a job, we evaluate their inherent qualities. This helps us ensure our values are wholeheartedly embraced and our culture shines. Core values and company mantras require that workers are open to them to be effective.
This, by the way, also goes for our corporate team. We live by the philosophy of hiring first for culture and talent second. Certain skills can be taught, but personality traits are far more difficult to change. One way we look for a good fit is by asking applicants for examples of times they demonstrated our core values, such as “Being Innovative,” during their first interview.
3. Create a feedback loop.
In event marketing, our success is dependent upon us putting forth our best talent and keeping the ship sailing smoothly no matter what. (And really, isn’t this true for any industry?) There are no second chances, and yet, unanticipated problems are always a possibility (maybe even a given) because we’re all human. But it’s our ability to ride the waves and correct course when necessary that is essential to whether or not a client is satisfied and will want to hire us again.
Our customers are encouraged to share honest feedback on staff performance – we even perform site check-ins during events to ensure everyone is happy. Additionally, the internal team and external teams stay in communication, and if we find that a team member is in need of a clarification on the expectations of their role, we happily offer real-time support. Our goal is to always allow for an opportunity to turn things around; often a gentle nudge or reminder that they agreed to uphold a set of values is all that’s needed.
Maybe you’ve already cultivated a winning company culture. Maybe you’re struggling to transform a strained one. You’ll find the best success with consistency and ongoing reinforcement of the expectations and values that you’ve created as a foundation.
It won’t change overnight – seeds always need continuous care and attention to sprout and develop. Keep your eye on the long-term goal, engage with your staff (internal and external) and give them a sense of ownership in the process. Every organization has a culture, whether consciously built or not. Put the above tips to practice and you’re much more likely to have cultivated a positive one.
Jonathan Sacks is the CEO and owner of the PUSH Agency, a Tempe-based worldwide live marketing and promotional staffing company. He founded the company in 2004 and has grown it to be the largest event staffing company in North America, with a database of more than 100,000 talented brand ambassadors and promotional models.