Keeping it Cloudy: How to Build Company Culture

Originally published on the Cloudreach website. Maintaining “cloudy culture” is important to us, and it’s also a hot topic at the moment. One of our Partners, CloudHealth Technologies, wrote a blog post last year about company culture, and concluded that the culture of every organisation must necessarily be unique. One of their key ideas, which I’d like to reflect more on here, is that if culture is nurtured it will be more powerful in defining your success as a business than your brand, product or customers.

Why should you care about this?

 Consider the following statistic: “57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier (B2B)”. This statistic explains the sudden boom of inbound marketing activities, but also I think has relevance for your company culture. The final stage of a marketing cycle is to ‘delight’ customers so that they act as brand ambassadors, and I believe the same is applicable to your employees, who are really your most crucial brand ambassadors.
 When potential customers first notice your company, their opinion will be founded on what they hear about you from others, the things they see about you in the news, on your website, on your blog. Well, your branding is delivered and maintained by your people. You may define it at a high level, but they are the ones who will work with your customers and inspire them to promote you in the wider market. They are the ones who will write thought leadership content for you, the people who will represent you at events and conferences. Your employees will define your profile in the market, your network, the calibre of your service and your ability to innovate quickly in line with evolving customer expectations.

Why does Cloudreach care about this?

One of Cloudreach’s core business goals is providing high quality work to our customers. The way that we treat our employees is the way they will treat those customers. The quality of the people we hire reflects on the quality of service they provide those customers.

It’s a short leap from realising these truths to committing to hire the best people to work for us, and then delivering on the cultural promises we make them so that those people stay and thrive.

What do Cloudreach believe about People?

 The key ingredient to building and retaining a talented workforce, we believe, is to promote and foster a culture and work environment that provides our employees with challenging work, fulfilling rewards, promotional opportunities and ready access to our leadership team.
  • In order to put the client first, you must actually put your employees first, because they will be the ones to define the client experience.
  • Hiring and retaining great people is Cloudreach’s top priority because every great company is a sum of its parts.
  • We rank training of high importance because we want to help individuals develop themselves and develop Cloudreach.
  • We have the responsibility to provide the career growth opportunities; employees have the responsibility for taking them.
  • Innovation is not just encouraged; it’s expected.
  • Autonomy of and respect for the individual is key.
  • We attract people because of the values we promote, but we retain them because of the values we live.

The last point is especially important to us. On any journey to define culture you have to come from point A, where you talk about how you want people to act and what you want them to believe, to point B where to live that talk becomes second nature.

 In my experience this is probably the biggest area where company cultures fail – when it’s well defined but not lived. I’m not trying to say we have completely cracked it here at Cloudreach, but that’s almost the whole point: it can never be ‘cracked’, it is continually a work in progress. Problems begin if you become complacent.

How do we stay alert?

We have a number of principles which we designed to help us stay true to our purpose as a company, and these are hiring criteria as well guidelines for day to day life at Cloudreach. They are broad enough to remain relevant as we grow, but narrow enough to keep us on the right path and allow us to evaluate our behaviour and motivations.

Respect the individual and individuality

You do not have to be the same to be equal. Differences should be valued since they help stimulate creative and diverse thinking which enables innovation and makes us all stronger as a company. This also allows us to…

…Be one step ahead

As with company culture, so this mantra is true of the technology market and the role of a Partner in business. It is our goal to provide solutions before they are needed – perhaps before the problem has even been identified. This is encapsulated by the popular sales spiel, ‘be proactive rather than reactive’, which is perhaps overused as a term but is certainly crucial to client relationships. We relentlessly drive to improve all things Cloudy.

Be easy to work with

Our attitude is positive, bright and helpful. When colleagues react this way to each other, everybody’s job becomes easier. Another way of putting this is we want to nurture a “culture of yes” – which means you should always be open to assisting others, and the default option should be to approve people’s ideas and feedback, rather than reject them.   

Promote personal growth

This allows us both to maintain our highly skilled workforce for our clients’ benefit, and also to make sure that people’s individual aspirations are met. When I was a recruiter a common complaint I heard from passive job seekers was that they had exhausted their learning and growth capacity in their current role. We never want that to be a reason people leave Cloudreach. We are huge advocates of feedback. Upwards, downwards and sideways – the only way you can improve is by getting feedback.

Hopefully you’re a little more convinced now that Company Culture should be on your agenda in 2016.

 

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