Six steps to a quality-driven business culture
Every organisation is defined by its culture – the principles it seeks to embody, and the ways in which it seeks to work.
Instilling a quality-driven culture should be a priority for all business leaders, not only those working in the service sector. Employing a workforce that is motivated and able to deliver high-quality customer service is critical for any business looking to achieve long-term goals and secure a position of lasting value in its chosen marketplace. Standards are set from the top. For senior management teams, providing the necessary guidance and vision is key to promoting a quality-driven culture. Communicating the aims and goals of a business will help to establish a positive business culture.
The journey towards a quality-driven culture can be split into six distinct steps:
Step 1 – Articulate
Setting out a clear set of values and a distinct business vision is an essential task for leaders. A start point and an end goal must be established and understood by all employees. Teams can be coached in preparation for the culture transition through workshops which introduce them to the behaviours that will need to be adopted so that they start to live and breathe the firm’s cultural ethos.
Step 2 – Permeate
Once goals have been established, they need to be integrated into existing business models so that they permeate the day-to-day running of the organisation. A consistent approach to messaging should be evident across the business. Everything the firm says and does should reflect this new vision and set of values – from the hardware it uses, to the look and feel of the offices, its marketing, its customer service and training programmes.
Step 3 – Empower
In order for a business to continue delivering high-quality services as it grows, employees should be encouraged to act as brand ambassadors. The business’ vision and values need to be clearly understood, and training programmes may be necessary to ensure that individual employees are able to present the firm to the marketplace in a positive and impactful way. Star performers within a business can be positioned as cultural leaders, inspiring others and encouraging a focus on self-development.
Step 4 – Standards
Meeting quality standards should be a priority for any business. By establishing standardised ways of doing things, organisations can ensure these are met in every customer interaction. Forging links between standardised tasks and the cultural ethos of the firm will help these to become second nature – employees will no longer have to think about whether they are doing things the right way.
Step 5 – Blame-free
Fostering a blame-free culture will encourage employees to be open about errors and mistakes, allowing them to be dealt with quickly and effectively. Generally, customers do not expect business services firms to be infallible, but they do expect any issues which arise to be dealt with in a professional and up-front way. Encouraging the development of an open and honest corporate culture, which encourages issues to be reported internally, will allow the business to take appropriate action.
Step 6 – Reward
A key management principle revolves around the idea that the right behaviours should be rewarded, so that they can be repeated. Linking performance-based criteria to reward mechanisms such as flexible working, pay reviews and bonus payments, will underline the importance of quality standards within the organisation.
Creating a new corporate vision and introducing a quality-driven culture is an important first step for service sector businesses. However, the acid test lies in an organisation’s ability to retain its new corporate culture and vision by investing in its people and training.
Author: Martin Atkins, HLB UK, Partner and Head of business services at Menzies LLP.
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