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The Difference Between A Great Corporate Culture And Bad One

Written by: Josef Stetter, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Josef Stetter

Corporate culture is a lot more than a concept; it is a mandate that when done correctly will increase productivity and engage workers beyond what shows up on a profit and loss excel spreadsheet. Sadly, many organizations spend money on advertising their culture but don’t practice what they preach. Companies need to understand they cannot afford to lose good people as 37% of the work force is impacted by lack of productivity and significant turnover because of a lack of corporate culture initiatives. This can result in millions in losses for organizations that fail to understand the importance of connected leaders who implement a variety of strategies to engage and inspire their work force. Now more than ever, employees need to feel connected and believe in their leadership! It is the small things and the human connection that make all the difference.

Office with business people, entrepreneur, architect working on computers

I remember when I worked as a stock trader for a bank.

I used to answer the phone with “it’s a great or fantastic day at bank name, my name is Josef how may I help you.” I was always positive and even when customers would complain they are losing money, I would find positives like tooney Tuesdays for chicken, or half-price movies that made all my clients feel at ease and have a positive conversation, so much so that many called back to let my management know how much they enjoyed my service.

One of my co-workers complained that me saying great or fantastic could be interpreted as the bank is making too much money; so senior management had three 2-hour long meetings to discuss whether I was allowed to say great or fantastic and decided it was easier to ban me from saying such positive words than to retrain 120 traders on the floor. After being banned for a positive disposition, a senior VP personally acknowledged my energy and attitude and asked me to build a social committee to help boost morale which was low and create a culture that engages employees. I was grateful for the opportunity and told the VP the first activity I will organize is a potluck as everyone can connect over food. Immediately, the VP responded that will probably not work as most of the traders are bachelors and will just offer to give $5 and eat what others bring.

At the end of the quarter, the bank refused to pay me my bonuses because I was logged off the phone for four hours to organize the potluck and build a corporate culture. To make things even worse, I had won or come in the top three for 7 out of 10 contests held in the quarter including answering a 151 trading calls in a shift. When this happened, I stopped trying to engage staff or create events. This is the epitome of bad corporate culture and why 83% of people in North America hate their job. Actions like the total and complete lack of appreciation and acknowledgement of my efforts is what deflates employee and creates a model of I will do less and only produce enough not to get fired; rather than a mindset of what else can I do to be more productive. If the leadership would support the very thing, they asked me to create; a corporate culture, I would not have left with such a bitter taste and a disdain for how employees are treated in the banking world.

Later in my career, I was given the opportunity to build an outbound call center from scratch for a company that owns multiple private colleges across the country. The expectations were that the team will generate $300,000 for the year for the company with restrictions that the call center calls lead that are more than four months old and more that 75 km (55 miles) from the nearest campus. I told the VP that if the team is producing results, to let me run the team anyway I see fit, and he agreed, as I had proven my leadership skills by quintupling the sales of 5 campuses as the director of admissions. In under 6 months, the call center team generated over 2.25 million dollars, all because I implemented a corporate culture of celebrating and appreciation of my staff.

I hired 8 people to start the call center. When they arrived in the office on the first day, I had a gift bag for each one of them with some funky pens, a funny stress ball, chocolates, and more Knick knacks from the dollar store. You can probably imagine how excited everyone was to receive a gift on their first day of work as this is not a common occurrence for people. I then told everyone that they can spend up to $40 to buy something they connect with so they can personalize their cubicle as they will be there for 8 hours a day, all they had to do was bring the receipt and I would give them cash for the item. Talk about setting up an atmosphere of encouraging creativity and acknowledging my people as part of building a corporate culture. To create a fun work environment everyone was bestowed a nickname such as giggles, hot mama (a 58-year-old woman), officer, champ and many more. Every Friday, I would buy the team snacks such as donuts or cookies or chips or nachos and salsa. Once a month we had a team potluck or some sort of team celebration. The team was enjoying the snacks so much; that they created a calendar of who on the team would spend up to $10 on Fridays to have even more snacks. Every Monday morning, we would celebrate the success of each team member and acknowledge everything they did well the past week. I then asked the team members to share any objections or difficulties they experienced during the week. I empowered the team members to offer suggestions or what they did and summarized the information after everyone spoke as the director. I put the success of the team first and every week the results beat the productivity from the previous week.

We were doing so well that the VP challenged me to motivate the team to try and achieve $150,000 in sales for the week. I communicated this to the team and told them that if we achieved this goal the whole team would be rewarded on Friday. The team worked together and by Wednesday at 3 pm we achieved 210,000$. I told the team not to bring a lunch as I am treating them on Friday. By Friday at noon, we had achieved close to $300,000. I sent the entire team to the movies full VIP passes and $30 gift certificate for food. I told the team that I would stay back in case any leads call back and give the credit to the person who initiated the call with the lead (I closed ten deals for my staff). The VP found out I sent the team to the movies and called furious asking what I was thinking as more calls and sales could have been made. I told him that it we do not produce more next week he can fire me and reminded him that he agreed to let me run the team my ways if we were producing great results. I also reminded him of the culture I built and the level of productivity on my team which was higher than admissions representatives that were on campuses. My team was expected to close 1% of the deals, we were averaging 10% to do outbound phone sales.

The team came back so amped from seeing a movie together during work hours that they produced over $400,000 the following week. I created a culture that recognized individual achievement while also recognizing the importance and contribution of each team member. To this day everyone who worked for me in the call center regularly connects with me to tell me that working on my team in an outbound call centre job was one of the best if not best working experience they ever had!

Corporate culture is extremely important and can drastically improve a company’s bottom line. I proved that when you take care of your people, treat them with respect and show them love amazing things can happen and expectations will be surpassed. Creating a corporate culture does not require a Google budget, it starts with the little things that make a lasting impression. For a complete manual of strategies a company can implement to create an amazing corporate culture book an appointment with the Celebrate Group Team.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Josef Stetter Brainz Magazine

Josef Stetter, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

For nearly 20 years, Josef Stetter has incorporated humour, energy, passion and full self-expression into his personal and professional life.

  • Award Winning & International Best-Selling Author of 11 books.

  • Award Winning Speaker and Guinness World Record Participant

  • Did not know what I want to do when I grow up so switched careers 9 X and jobs 18 times

  • Work in Recruitment. Clients have included: Deloitte & Touche, Aecon Construction, Tata Consulting Services, Canon, Aviva, Skechers Shoes and more!



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