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When the going gets tough, don’t fight it out to the lowest common denominator and don’t give up on your culture.
When you’re in the business of selling, is anything off limits? It’s a question which is very much to the fore at the moment, particularly given way in which some retail outlets are cutting prices and bringing forward January sales in a bid to recoup some of the momentum which was lost thanks to unseasonably warm weather and a quiet Black Friday.
Whilst tough times demand tough solutions, selling at all costs is not necessarily the solution. Aggressive pricing may initially hit the opposition, but it is a long-term recipe for business failure. Similarly, targeting employees to sell on pain of disciplinary action may initially boost sales but will lead to long-term employee disengagement. Even worse, when placed under such pressure the best employees will leave in search of more engaging employers, leaving poorer performers to struggle on in their wake.
So what’s the solution? Quite simply, when the going gets tough, it’s time to concentrate on the culture. This is the one thing which should never sell out, no matter what the provocation. Maintaining a strong culture at all costs can bring measurable benefits to the business in all sorts of ways. Let’s start with employee engagement. Cultures which look to recognise and reward employees and to create a great atmosphere in which to work gain through boosting employee engagement. Benefits include:
Leading on from employee engagement comes customer loyalty. With a strong organisational culture and engaged employees, customers are left in no doubt that the business is working on their behalf. This not only encourages repeat custom, it also turns customers into advocates for the brand as they praise the business to their friends and other contacts.
And when your employees and your customers are on your side, not only does business reputation increase, so too does the willingness of investors to back the organisation. Yes, numbers play their part, but investors like to back a winner and an organisation which has a strong culture is one which is more likely to succeed and deliver good returns.
When the going gets tough, don’t fight it out to the lowest common denominator and don’t give up on your culture. Your longevity depends on having a strong culture with engaged employees which will deliver innovative solutions, thereby attracting customers and investors. Anything else is just selling out.