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Toxic Work Culture Series: Entrepreneur's Antidote to Overcoming Workplace Toxicity

If you are a business owner, like it or not, you are a leader. You are responsible for not only the day-to-day operations of your business but the work climate or environment, professional development of your team, and constructing of cohesive teams, sales, revenue, strategic pricing, and regulation. We can go on and on about your role and responsibility. The reality is that you are wearing multiple hats at a time. As a result, the culture within your organization is easily left unattended to morph into one giant monster. So, let's explore what you can do within your social field (virtual or brick-and-mortar workplace) to ensure your organizational culture does not morph into something out of a horror movie. CPR will offer recommendations and tease out some of the recommendations in the upcoming weeks. Let's begin.

In a Forbes Nov 2021 article, the contributing writer cites data from a recent Bain & Company survey: "Only 10% of business leaders believe that the primary purpose of their firm is to maximize customer value. Many companies still operate in the old-school financial capitalist mindset in which maximizing shareholder value is front and center.” The article highlighted the importance of being a customer-centric organization. Denning noted a quote from Reichheld, “to elevate customer happiness to become their primary purpose… The truth is that despite today’s profusion of customer-centric rhetoric, most leaders believe that the primary purpose of business is profits." Reichheld noted, "The goal of customer primacy does not ignore the other stakeholders—staff, partners, shareholders, and society. “Those firms that put customers first,” says Reichheld, “can deliver superior results—not just to customers, but also to all these other constituencies.” Evidence points to tech firms such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google that provide platinum services to their customers and other constituents. Furthermore, according to their financial statements, tech firms have the largest market capitalization and the best growth prospects. Also, their employees agree: "these four are among the top six firms to work for. Since talent drives strategy, the ability to attract top talent is another driver of performance."

As entrepreneurs and leaders, what can we learn about customer-driven capitalism? Can we conclude that only the Technology industry has a winning formula to be successful in the twenty-first century? Not really; since most small businesses are not on the stock market, we can understand the role of the customer and employee for a twenty-first century winning formula, starting with the organization's culture and what role it plays with your mission, vision, and value statement. Forbes' article states, "cultural forces are powerful because they operate outside our awareness. For companies that have been pursuing shareholder value for many decades, values are open to discussion, and people can agree to disagree, while basic assumptions are so taken for granted that someone who does not hold them is viewed as a ‘foreigner’ or as ‘crazy’ and is automatically dismissed.” For larger organizations that have existed for years, this is the challenge for the CEO. The likelihood of basic assumptions and values becoming too entrenched for entrepreneurs and small business owners may not be an issue. Still, if ignored, basic assumptions and values can quickly morph into an issue. As the leader, CPR recommends paying close attention to your culture and understanding what it should be. An easy way to assess this is to have your employees complete an online organization culture survey. CPR also recommends implementing an employee-driven and a customer-driven strategic goal. Let's consider what elements are incorporated into an employee and customer-driven strategic goal. Today's post will highlight the making of an employee-driven organization as its strategic goal.

As the leader, your work environment should reflect a positive or creative work climate, likely resulting in more excellent employee morale that lends to employee retention and customer satisfaction. There is a plethora of recommendations to bolster employee morale; for immediate implementation, CPR offers the following:

1. initiate discussions with your team

2. review your mission, vision, and value statements. If they are not aligned with the employee and customer-driven model, revise your statements to reflect such

3. if you do not have a Human Resources expert, congratulations! You've just added another hat to your collection. There needs to be a focus on professional development and benefits. This may include but is not limited to:

  1. 5-10% increase annually, depending on your annual revenue and if the employee earned the right to be rewarded

    • Use employee evaluation as a tool for improvement, expectation, and benchmarking. Employees can learn about future expectations and what is needed to reach the next level. When they do, follow through. Do not change the metric.

ii. consider what motivates your employees, then address it accordingly. As a small business, leaders benefit when they customize the approach to business. CPR blog dedicated a series on motivation; start from there.

iii. consider AWS (alternate work schedules), vacation, and leave requirements. This is very important for generation Z and millennials.

4. Implement a wellness policy and adopt CPR Wellness practices such as Meaningful Monday, Non-Toxic Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Favored Friday, or create your own. The goal is to demonstrate your commitment to cultivating a healthy work environment.

5. View CPR's brief Non-Toxic Tuesday videos to understand how a toxic culture can creep in by not correcting the small stuff.

6. As a leader, understand that words are frequently weaponized, and your non-verbal communication sometimes speaks louder than words. If you need assistance, secure a coach to assist you.

7. Be respectful at all times. This can be done by starting and ending your meeting on time, promoting healthy lifestyles such as eating habits, and incorporating power naps into your schedule. See yesterday's blog post on power naps for productivity.

8. Render constructive feedback to your team

9. Foster cohesive and creative teams free of bullies and intimidation. As demonstrated in Tuesday's video, encourage everyone to SPEAK UP!

10. Set your work environment bar high, not impossible, but high enough, so you and your team see the direction you are aiming for.

For twenty-first business operations, do not link the salary to policy. You and your team's integrity must be built into the equation. The excellent news about organizational culture and small businesses is that it takes years to create a shift. As a small business owner, regardless of negative or positive, your culture is not entrenched to make change difficult. CPR stands with you on your leadership journey. Should you need assistance on implementation, take advantage of CPR's free 30min virtual assessment.

Warm Regards,


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