By Zamantolo Fakudze
For a small business to succeed, there are generally three core components making up that success: a strong product, a well-researched go-to-market strategy, and a strong organisational culture.
This week let’s focus on the last one, a strong business culture.
MSMEs often generate a bad reputation for being fast-moving environments filled with poor communication, infighting, micromanagement, and poor retention.
While this can be true for some ventures, it’s certainly not the rule, and it doesn’t need to be as there are several ways to encourage a good working culture.
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Leadership teams are the champions of your small business’s culture. The best leaders lead by example and embody the culture that your organisation strives to maintain. While employees may be spread around the country you can quickly garner their feelings towards your organisational culture with anonymous surveys which will tell you whether changes need to be made.
Culture needs to be clearly defined. This necessitates communicating your organisation’s values and goals. These can be documented online, in communal spaces, and on notice boards and be reaffirmed in regular monthly, bi-annual, or annual, companywide meetings.
Building culture through trust
Employees dislike few things more than micromanagement. When you hire new talent, you need to trust in your ability to gauge a person’s skills and trust in their ability to apply them to their daily tasks and get the job done. Micromanagement only fosters discontent and can leave employees feeling burned out from constant, unwanted feedback. A lack of accountability can play a significant factor in why many small businesses fail.
Building culture through respect
Employees should be treated with the same respect and feel they are part of a united team. Striking this balance is often more challenging in a small business environment with far fewer bodies in the organisation. However, it’s crucial to avoid creating an “us vs. them” environment in which senior leadership is far removed from your customer service and operations teams, and successful entrepreneurs know this well.
Building a culture focused on customer value
Tying back into the importance of your product’s purpose and branding, your customer values should be intertwined through everything the company does. Your employees must understand this and be bought into your mission.
Building a culture through transparency
Transparency enables openness and communication between your senior leadership team and employees. It’s crucial for building trust and job satisfaction while boosting morale.
A strong culture encourages innovation
Only a minute subset of employees feel that their suggestions or complaints influence organisational change. According to a study from Leadership IQ, only 6% of people say that good suggestions or valid employee complaints lead to important organisational changes.
When change is acted upon, the suggestions will continue coming, and employees will feel encouraged to give their ideas. Innovation will then only come from serious investment rather than from within. If you embrace employee-driven innovation, positive change can happen from having everyone in the business seeking out new, innovative tools and processes on a day-to-day basis.
When the senior leadership team or project managers are solely responsible for driving change, you’ll only receive strategic direction from a select few people. By harnessing the ideas of a more inclusive audience, i.e., your entire workforce, you’ll have a greater range of potential ideas to act upon.
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When you’re open to ideas from a broader pool of people, you’ll naturally attract a range of different thinkers. This means you’ll inevitably attract talent from all walks of life who have different approaches toward work. Your employees will be more likely to share their ideas and feel included in a more inclusive environment.
Remember employee wellbeing
Focusing on employee well-being alongside performance and output is important. Numerous tools are available to support employee well-being, including benefits. It’s important to also find opportunities to recognize performance, give employee awards, share success stories, and engage in social events. These are opportunities you can use to reaffirm your organisational culture.
Finally, while it may seem like the product is the most crucial element to a small business, without a good organisational culture, that product won’t go anywhere. All of the points that we’ve discussed are closely interlinked.
To create a successful, high-quality product, you must ensure that your brand, message, and user-guided development are all spot-on. However, you’ll need a diverse group of employees who are bought into your company’s objectives and customer values to achieve that.
When your product and culture are aligned, you can set yourself apart in the MSME sector and rise above your competitors with a product that your users or customers sell for you.