By Joe Soltis
As CEO of a constantly growing and evolving company, I am often asked “How do you keep your company’s culture on track?” or “How did you build such a great culture?”
The short answer is that everything we do is baked in with our core values: Integrity In All Things; Amazing Customer Service, Everyone A Leader; Candor With Goodwill; Giving; and Family. Stating these values from the outset is an important part of the process.
Leaders and entrepreneurs need to create the culture they want to see. It doesn’t just happen on its own. Culture requires ongoing work and at ChoiceLocal, my team and I are committed to this growth every single day.
In order to help the best entrepreneurs and CEOs, I’ve narrowed down some of the most important ways that I (and my team at ChoiceLocal,) work to make sure that our culture continues to thrive and evolve in a positive way:
people the way you want to be treated. I did this at my old roles prior to
ChoiceLocal and whatever I oversaw grew 20% to 400% YoY, every year I ran it.
When I left those roles and other people took over, those performance metrics
were never hit again. The golden rule of “Treat others the way you want to be
treated,” is the most important rule in business – my predecessors did not
follow it and their business results reflect that.
a well thought out business strategy and plan of execution – without it you
will not win, and people like to win. No one likes to lose. No one likes to
do a ton of work only to have a shift in direction due to a leader who can’t
make up their mind. Before you move your company in any direction, have a
strategy, plan, numbers and testing to indicate how the plan should work –
otherwise you risk abusing your employees and having a losing streak as a
company. Our strategy at ChoiceLocal is solid and it has not changed since we
started. Because of this we have gone from a startup with me as the only
employee, and no venture funding, to becoming the one of largest franchise
marketing agencies in the world in just a few years.
- Have good training in the form of process,
best practices & KPIs – but allow freedom and testing free from
micro-management. Almost no one likes to figure out things completely
on their own with little to no guidance. You need a strong operational
framework in place to be successful, so everyone knows what they need to do to
get consistently good results. Everyone likes to see they are winning. You can
do this by giving employees reasonable but somewhat stretch goals to hit and
measure. Then reward them for hitting those goals. Trust the people you hire to
do the job well – only after they have proven otherwise do you need to get into
the details. If their core values are right, with super aggressive training you
can almost always help them find success. If after making such attempts,
someone can’t find success, you need to lovingly find a way for them to find a
role where they will be successful inside or outside of your organization –
otherwise you risk demoralizing teammates who are relying on someone who can’t
do well in their current role. The key is to do everything with love, respect
and honesty and it always works out well in the end.
- Give your employees work-life balance and
let them know their well-being is more important than their job working at your
company. Build your company so that it can be wildly successful with
the average teammate at your company working 40 hours per week or a bit less. People
were not created to work – we were created to make the world a better place. If
someone can’t spend stress-free time with their family and friends, while being
well-rested, it will be hard for them to make the world a better place. In
addition, if someone has a family crisis, or a personal crisis, tell them to
focus on their family or their personal need and then have a culture where you,
the CEO, as well as everyone else in the company, is willing to roll your
sleeves up to help them get their work done while they are out.
- Give back. At ChoiceLocal we have a 401K profit-sharing match program that lets our teammates have a share in the profit of the company. In addition, no one wants to work for a company that only cares about profits. If you donate a generous share of your profits to charity to help the least fortunate among us, you are not only making the world a better place but you are showing your teammates their daily work goes to help good people in need. At ChoiceLocal we give 10% of our profits to help kids in need. We also have a day of giving every quarter, where ChoiceLocal teammates are paid to go out and volunteer and help people in the Cleveland, OH area who need a hand.
When you practice these five steps, you start to build a culture that has sustainable, positive results. Your employees will go above and beyond for the company, their coworkers and their community when they know that you are willing to go above and beyond for them.
About the Author
Joe Soltis is the founder and CEO of ChoiceLocal. He has a passion for helping others and making companies grow through digital marketing. In his spare time, Joe enjoys spending time with his family and friends, going to church and attending his children’s hockey and sports games. Joe and his wife, Becky, established the Benjamin Isaac Foundation in 2014 to help children and other individuals by giving nutrition, healthcare, education, safety, love and faith to kids around the world in need.