Are you the founder of a successful SME that’s noticed the world of work is changing all around you? Have you seen changes in the way your customers work – the technology they use, their office environment, their focus on diversity & wellbeing, and do you worry that you’re being left behind? What would happen if your customers decided you’re just too old fashioned to be a good fit for them? 

They say if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Well you might think your culture isn’t broken, but if the world moves on without you, you could lose the trust and respect of your customers. It’s difficult to be a taken seriously if you’re driving a horse and cart and everyone else is in a new car…

You have an established business with a good reputation

You’ve been in business for years. You have loyal employees and customers and you’re good at what you do. As your industry has evolved over the years, you’ve worked hard to adapt your strategy and move into new markets – often being the first to introduce new technology, products and services.

But now you look around and your customers seem to be operating in a different world… 

New technology, creative office spaces, remote and flexible working, strategies for promoting diversity and well-being… the way your customers are working is changing dramatically. 

Your customers are living in a world where online video calls, instant chat platforms and barista quality coffee-on-tap are the norm. They’re used to hot-desking and working from home without anyone raising an eyebrow. They have access to digital learning tools and are invited to feedback on their company culture on a regular basis. 

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed a subtle but powerful shift in people’s expectations of work culture. And if they haven’t already, sooner or later your customers will notice if your company culture is not moving with the times.

So would you be embarrassed if one of your customers came to work in your office for a day?

The future of work is already here… it’s just not evenly distributed. Your culture should be a source of competitive advantage. If you ignore it, don’t be surprised when you start to lose your customers.

What if you could show your customers the way…

Imagine welcoming your customers into a workplace that celebrates your brand. A workplace that’s vibrant, where people are happy and enjoy spending time together. 

What if you went beyond creating a culture that merely reflected your customers’ expectations and started pioneering management practices that your customers would want to copy and emulate. Imagine creating a culture where people can learn, grow and progress and where everyone can do their best work.

You’ve been a pioneer in your industry before – you can be that pioneer again…

Then you need to change your company culture

When it comes to culture the things we tend to notice are the showy aspects – the funky offices, the free drinks and snacks, the state of the art technology. And these things do matter – if a customer comes to visit your office, these things make an impression. 

But it’s easy to ruin a business by introducing the wrong new idea or by doing it poorly. You can introduce expensive perks with no payback. For example, you might build a zen zone in your office in an attempt to give people a quiet space to relax, read a book, meditate and take some time out in the day. You build it on the ground floor so that your customers will see it when they visit and be impressed by how much you care about people’s well being. However, your managers make it clear that they disapprove of people not spending enough time at their desk. A few people use the room but the fact it’s on the ground floor means everyone notices who spends time there and people feel like they have to justify themselves for taking time out. Pretty soon the room becomes a vacant space that’s hardly used. Your customers start asking awkward questions about why the room is always empty. Instead of decreasing people’s stress and improving wellbeing, you end up emphasising your culture of presenteeism and long hours.

Well intentioned initiatives can easily backfire – harming rather than improving your culture.

If you want to be a pioneer, it’s important you don’t just create a veneer of being focused on culture. My advice – look at your culture through the lens of your people operating system (peopleOS).

A peopleOS is the system a company creates to manage its people effectively. It provides a route to designing and building culture in a way that makes your people happier, delivers better customer experiences and improves your business performance.

As you look to change your culture, rather than introducing a series of individual initiatives that seem like good ‘future of work’ ideas, you want to design and build a peopleOS that flows. Where the way you engage people in your business is coherent with the ways of working that enable you to execute on your strategy and deliver for your customers. And these also support how you explore where your next wave of growth will come from. 

If you think you need to change the culture of your business, start by taking our diagnostic survey to understand which areas of your peopleOS need your attention most. 

Click here to take our peopleOS diagnostic survey.