How To Get Clear On Business Values To Improve Company Culture

By Justin Casey, General Manager at Coleman Brands Au

Here’s what l know: cultures are not built with baskets of fruit or bike racks. No one turns up to work for free bananas! They show up because they love the organization, what it does and stands for and have a sense of satisfaction at the end of even the toughest of days. Culture is not driven from processes or systems—it comes from bringing your vision to life through the values and behaviours of your people and is driven by the leader(s) in your business. You have to be clear what the values of your business are; in our case, our vision was very clear—to ‘create memories outdoors.’ What wasn’t clear were the values and behaviours we needed to deliver on our vision. Getting clear on our values has allowed us to shape the conversations we have, rules of engagement internally and externally and how and who we recruit.

Culture is your organisation’s DNA. For us, respect, integrity, fun, accountability, courage and team are the dominant strains of DNA in our business. Each individual in your business has a unique DNA and that will never completely match your organisation. The key is ensuring your employees have dominant strains of DNA that match yours.

There are challenges in creating an aspirational culture. You may have remote offices and employees, there will always be that guy who talks too much or the emotional one that needs calming down every month—just make sure these are not dominant behaviours and can be managed. If you help them find “their version” of what the culture is and ensure they are aligned with the vision and key values, the rest will take care of itself.

Recruitment Becomes Easy

The cost to a business of losing an employee is great, considering the financial burden of recruiting and training new staff. It is far more economical to retain existing staff, invest in their training and have a long and prosperous relationship.

The key for us in recruitment has been developing a process whereby candidates are matched to the culture. I assume anyone who interviews can technically do the job, so it becomes more about if the individual will thrive and fit into our culture. I am sure we have walked past many talented individuals in our process, however l know the ones that have been hired were an absolute match to the culture and have delivered more because they have fallen in love with our business. That is why it is important to be very clear about what you need the DNA of that individual to be.

People build culture, and you need staff that will enrich your existing culture.

The Extra Stuff Is The Benefit, Not The Driver

So why do we provide benefits for our employees then, you ask, if it not about banana’s or bike racks? The answer is simple—because it helps us move our vision forward. For example, being an outdoor company, we are passionate about being active and outside so we actively encourage our staff to participate in outdoor activities and we offer an extra lunch break if you exercise.

We also offer staff an extra two days of paid leave a year to go camping, and let them borrow the equipment to help them live our vision: ‘creating memories outdoors.’

Work-life balance is something l do not subscribe to. I am a father at home and at work—end of the story. I do agree that it is important to make sure the two co-exist. My staff are welcome to bring their kids to work as often as they need, with a TV room and activities in the head office to keep them entertained. While I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, I believe it’s important as a leader that I consider all the challenges faced by my people.

The more your people love what they do and believe in your company’s purpose and vision, the more they will invest themselves and their discretionary effort beyond the 9-to-5... and enjoy it! Creating an environment were people can learn, be challenged, take risks, be uncomfortable, have fun and produce extraordinary results is paramount to what people want when they come to work.

It is no surprise to us here at Coleman that we were recently awarded 2nd in the BRW Best Places to Work 2014, Study for companies with less than 100 employees. Being recognised as a great place to work is an acknowledgement of the awesome culture we have created... and note “people create culture.”


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