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Transform your Company Culture – Make your Business Future proof

company change culture

Transform your Company Culture, make your Business Future proof

Why employee centricity is more important than customer centricity

“Ilja, it’s like this—I’m really open to new ideas and would like to tackle multiple goals at once. However, my colleagues are simply resistant to change and always block my suggestions immediately. It’s frustrating. What should I do?” No matter if I’m booked by my clients for a keynote, a daily workshop, or an executive coaching, I hear this call for help—which is often marked by great frustration—more often than I like. The size of the organization doesn’t matter, because I hear statements like this in small businesses, medium-sized companies, as well as in international corporations—and from people at all levels of the hierarchy. Employees complain about their bosses, bosses about their employees, and colleagues from marketing about sales and administration. The result: a corporate culture characterized by mutual suspicion, blame, and hostility toward innovation. A vicious circle develops, because if people work more against each other than with each other, then this inevitably leads to a lack of willingness to perform, a lack of customer focus, and ultimately to declining sales.

Establish a culture of change that is shared and lived by every single employee in the company

If a company has to constantly struggle with missing profits, then staff quickly become nervous and try to counteract it accordingly. The scenario usually looks like this: the C-suite, the HR department, or an external consulting agency remembers the old wisdom of management thinker Peter F. Drucker, who is credited with the statement, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And then it’s decided that the corporate DNA is in urgent need of renovation or reorientation. Basically, this focus is also completely correct, because a culture of innovation, openness, and the courage to try new methods beats each and every sophisticated business strategy, without a doubt. For one thing is certain: if you are good, then your competitors will copy everything. Your products, your prices, maybe even entire marketing ideas. But they will never be able to copy your culture, because this is unique. It’s therefore worthwhile to establish a culture of change that is shared and lived by every single employee in the company. In this way, dealing with change will not be a necessary evil, but a natural attitude that will positively impact your sales, customer satisfaction, and profitability at the end of the day.

Yes, it’s always the people who make the difference—in the positive, as well as in the negative. However, the implementation of this knowledge in practice usually looks like setting the development of a modern corporate culture as a top priority, hanging big posters with the new company values on the walls, and rolling out corresponding training measures throughout the organization. And then you train—the behaviour toward customers, the internal way of communication, or the changing of one’s attitude toward the job. The result is, however, usually sobering, because with a few exceptions—even after a completed rollout of such training measures—everything remains the same as it was.

Your corporate culture as the most important competitive advantage

Good common sense tells us very clearly why that is. Motivation, enthusiasm, or passion for one’s own profession are all qualities that work from the inside out. They are inseparably linked with our character and our personality. For this reason, they can’t be imposed by an external coach or taught through seminars. And so a frustrated and unmotivated employee remains a frustrated and unmotivated employee even after the best behavioural training. As much as we sometimes wish we could, it’s simply impossible to change other people. Motivating an existing team and inspiring them for upcoming changes is therefore a difficult, and often expensive, undertaking. It’s much easier to pick—right from the start—the most suitable people who identify with your values, goals, and visions for the future. Of course, this presupposes that you’re aware of the corporate DNA, your most important values, and your own identity, because only then can you also communicate these formative qualities both internally and externally.

More and more companies understand the importance of corporate culture and treat their employees for what they are: the number-one success factor on the path to a future characterized by change and transformation. What may seem a bit exotic at first glance is, on closer inspection, lacking any alternative. To back this up, I’d like to introduce you to a thesis: In the markets of tomorrow, a focus on employees will be more important than a focus on customers. Okay, I’m aware that this sentence is most likely the exact opposite of what you’ve heard, read, and possibly even implemented, because the consensus in business is still that the customer is king. And that’s a heavy burden, setting the customer at the focus of all entrepreneurial efforts. After all, with his money, he makes sure that we have something to eat on the table tomorrow and a roof over our heads. Nevertheless, you should always put your employees first. Only then come your customers, business partners, and shareholders. The more clearly you formulate your expectations, values, and demands, the better your team can (and will) identify with the corporate culture.

Create a company culture people want to belong to

This is crucial, because nowadays, a job has to offer more than just a monthly salary and six weeks of vacation each year. Today, people are thirsting for meaning, a deeper sense of purpose, and the feeling that they can make a difference. Always remember: the team is sacred. And that’s exactly how you should treat your team. Create a high level of appreciation, an atmosphere in which your employees can grow, and give every single person the opportunity to bring their talents, strengths, and ideas to life. Create an atmosphere in which your employees can grow and develop. That last sentence is particularly important, because a good boss is able to inspire a team toward a bigger vision and, at the same time, enable each and every one of them to grow as a human being and realize their own dreams.

Yes, of course that means living through change, setting an example, and being ready to give unconditionally. Do you think that’s unfair? Perhaps, but what’s the alternative? Just take the sun as an example. It puts all its energy into sending out its rays without ever picking one of them up itself. But it gets something much bigger in return: all the plants on the earth turn toward it and follow it. Modern leadership functions the same way. One thing should now be internalized about past leadership styles: the time of traditional bosses is finally over, and I mean the bosses who have led with authority, pressure, and fear. Nowadays, the highest commandment is to meet each individual person according to their individual needs, to challenge and promote them at the same time. This is how those renowned close-knit teams—who go through thick and thin together and accomplish miracles—emerge. It’s nothing more than the natural result of people pursuing a common goal in an appreciative atmosphere and gaining a deep meaning from their personal contribution to it.

Culture focus equals customer focus

At the end of the day, this kind of philosophy leads to the best possible customer focus. Because, if your employees like to come to work with a high level of motivation and a lot of fun, then the satisfaction—and thus, the performance—increases. This ensures that your customers and business partners are treated with a completely different attitude. And all of this is not only true for business, but also for whenever a group of people come together: a sports club, a working group at a university, and of course, for the most important team in the world, the family. Let yourself be human again. And as radically as possible. After all, those who understand that personality will be the most important success factor of all will be among the winners in the markets of tomorrow. 

Best wishes and let the change begin

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