Blog and video from Start Grow Manage on resiliency in uncertain economic time

Reality Check: You and Your Business Culture in Economic & Labor Uncertainty

Table of Contents

    Jeff Loehr: Let’s talk about canoes and whining entrepreneurs. 

    Joe Rojas: I imagine this will lead us back to growing, managing, and starting a business.

    Jeff Loehr: Here’s what we hear right now: The economy sucks, making it hard for me to run my business. But here’s the thing, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re complaining about people leaving or you’re complaining about the economy, it’s you.

    Joe Rojas: If you don’t shift, you’ll always have the experience that it’s them. When the economy sucks, it’s time for the hard work you have to do to look over yourself because the person sitting in your underwear has something to do with any situation you’re in.

    Jeff Loehr: The economy will start morphing, and people will continue complaining about the economy. But people will still buy. In a recession, people are still buying, but they may not not be buying from you. If you don’t have a compelling enough offer, nobody will buy, and you can’t blame the economy or other people. It all comes back to you. But today, I want to tie that back into how people are quitting – Quiet Quitting you’ve heard about. And that brings me back to when I was in college and worked for Macy’s during the Christmas holidays.

    When I first arrived at Macy’s, they talked a lot about customer service, and they told the story of a CEO in one of the Macy’s who helped a customer out of the store, assisting the customer in carrying a canoe to his car and then tie it to his car. When he came back, a salesperson told him that this customer had just managed to shoplift a canoe from Macy’s with the help of the CEO. 

    I haven’t been there in years, but at least when I was working there, Macy’s valued customer service and reinforced customer service’s importance with this canoe story. And it emphasized to me how important it was to support the customers and deliver amazing customer service.

    Here’s another story. A VP at IBM offered his resignation after losing $100 million from some big mistake. And his boss told him he’d better not resign because he had spent $200 million educating him. 

    These stories are about defining culture and defining core values. Sometimes people don’t stay in businesses because they have yet to define those values, so employees and customers don’t feel like they belong. It’s purely transactional.

    Joe Rojas: Maybe this is a weird analogy, but say the employees are flowers. The vase you put them in is those values, vision, and mission. It’s the context that holds them and elevates them, highlights them, and helps them understand their place in the world inside your organization. If you have a strong set of values, your employees will stay in your organization. If your company’s values inspire your employees, they will stay, but if you don’t, your employees will leave.

    A transactional component is about the dollar value, so if somebody pays them $20 more, they’ll leave because it’s transactional. But they’ll stay if they get offered a place with genuine care for who they are.

    Jeff Loehr: When you’re in a more transactional place, the long-term opportunity suffers. Maybe things are okay in the short term, but you’re more likely to get let go when things take a turn. Your company culture must work for you, like the culture that you, as the entrepreneur, want to work in.

    Joe Rojas: Culture can be tricky. Some people may hate your company culture because it’s not the right place for them. Other people will love it. That’s the importance of having a defined culture – so people can move at the speed of the culture to say, I found my place in the world. Don’t put a Formula One car in a demolition derby.

    Jeff Loehr: When there’s a good culture fit, it’s hard to drag people away or to move them out, and that’s why it comes back to this idea of creating a culture around your core values. If you’re not willing to give up money for it, then it’s not a core value. Patrick Lencioni talks about integrity as a core value. If that’s true, it means you have to say no to going down a path that’s inconsistent with that core value. You can’t spy on your competition, for instance. You have to be willing to give something up for that culture, and it ends up paying for you. Otherwise, it’s just words. So if you work in a business, think about your core values.

    Joe Rojas: This works for the company and the employee. The employee will leave if they don’t share your core values, but in hiring, you have to interview for core values and hire around them. If you hear the answers to your core value questions, and they’re saying all the right stuff, you’ll know that that’s your person. You can be confident this person will fit perfectly in your ecosystem with your other people, which is what I said at the beginning about the vase.

    Jeff Loehr: We’ll have to have another episode around hiring for core values because that’s important. Jeff, do you want to take us out?

    Joe Rojas: Remember that you are loved. 

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