Talk to any business coach, consultant, or leader, and inevitably at some point, your conversation will turn to talk of business culture. Although, sometimes the culture conversation isn't direct, and, sometimes, the word itself might not even come up. Things such as core values, mission statements, the interviewing process, the employee review process etc., etc., etc., might dominate the discussion, but, still, at its core, what you're talking about is culture.
And there's no way to undersell just how important culture is — both in your real estate business and beyond.
In the past ten years, my CEO peer group has often had at least one well-known speaker and, typically, book author, discuss business culture. This past year we had one such speaker that took a unique twist to his presentation and hit me with a line of thinking I had never considered before. During his presentation, he turned the culture-related discussion away from the usual business focus and directed it towards me and my personal life. This was a twist I had never experienced before.
During this speaker's presentation, he discussed not only business culture but family culture as well. He even pressed the family culture discussion further and asked if we had discussed our family's core values with our families or if our spouses and children also knew our family's core values. Admittedly only one peer in my group of 15 business owners could answer yes when asked if his family knew their family's core values. This line of thinking gave great pause to me and the other 13, who also said yes to having family core values. While we all actively work on culture in our businesses, 14 of us, unfortunately, had not done this yet with our families.
As a sidebar, before I bring my thoughts back to the business world, if you want to do something interesting, start trying to answer culture related questions that focus on you and your family, such as:
What are your family's core values?
Does your family filter your family's decisions against your family's core values and mission statement?
Is your family in alignment with your family's core values and mission statement...your family's culture?
Trust me, the family angle is an interesting line of questions to think through when you have time, and I encourage you to do it...but let's get back to talking about the business side of things...
The first point I want to make is that you must be purposeful in your culture. What I mean by this is that culture in your business is something that you are the architect of. And, since you are the architect, culture is something you need to take the time to think about and create. Ultimately, if you go through a culture exercise with a business coach, that coach will ask you all kinds of questions about who your team is, words that describe them, and what they value.
Two years ago, I did a formal culture exercise at Delta. The management team, a business consultant, and I spent about an hour coming up with our five core values. When we were done, we all agreed that our core values accurately described who we were and are as a team. The irony of our core values is that I have valued these things and worked towards them with the Delta team for over 20 years. However, I was not nearly as strategic then as we are today at Delta in building a team representative of these core values. Now, it's a different story as these values I've long respected have become a central theme within Delta's business.
Delta's Five Core Values are:
Get it Done — Being accountable and trusted to complete projects or tasks no matter the effort needed or how much time is needed.
Finds a Way — The answer is never "No." When we see a need, even when the platform wasn't built to do it, or it would require building something completely new, as long as it fits into our core focus, we make it happen.
Passionate — Deeply cares about outcomes. Demonstrates a winning attitude, and it hurts to lose.
Team Oriented — Excels at working inside of a team to work towards achieving a larger goal. Can clearly give and receive feedback about tasks to better the team. Is driven to make sure the entire team succeeds, no lone-wolf attitude.
Do What's Right — Through wisdom, honesty, and compassion, we take the path that will have the greatest positive impact on the current and future health, growth, and prosperity of our company, our team members, and our customers.
It has become much easier over the past two years to make hiring and firing decisions and business decisions by having our core values clearly defined and agreed upon within our management team. Core values are part of our formal interview process and part of our quarterly employee review process.
The second point that I want to make is that the leader ultimately feeds the culture they want by what they focus on with their team.
Last December, at our annual two-day planning meeting for 2022, the management team did an exercise where we each shared two things with every other member on the management team: What is the one thing most admired about the person by you and what is the one thing that you would most like that person to stop doing or start doing?
What the team shared with me that they most admired about me gave me clarity into some of the ways that I have fed the culture at Delta. They shared that they liked my ability to inspire, my honesty, my optimism in adversity, my work ethic, that I am down to earth, and that I am approachable. Now, before you begin to think that I am trying to build myself up with a list of accolades, I should point out that I have another list of things I need to work on that I won't share: My stop doing and start doing list. But, for now, let's focus on the most admired things list...
It is important that each of us as business leaders is modeling that which we desire; that we exemplify the culture, core values, and mission statement of the company we run and the team we lead. I can take each of the items shared with me during the exercise that people admire about me and tie them back to at least one core value. Unknowingly I was living out the core values of the business for the past 20 years, not always to perfection, but I was living them out, and others noticed.
What we need to do as business owners is foster in our lives what we want in our businesses and be intentional about it. To close out my thoughts, I put together a shortlist of questions that you may find helpful as you think through the culture in your business, and maybe even the culture within your family:
To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here.