Pride may be one of the seven sins—but when it comes to your company culture, it’s what every ECE leader should be aiming for.
From the way directors engage with employees, to the efficiency of your finance software—the way your business is run should leave your team, your parents, and your children feeling proud to be a part of it.
Because a great business culture leads to great business results.
According to a report by TruPath, employee turnover at companies with poor cultures is a huge 48%, while turnover at companies with great cultures is just 14%. Not only that, Forbes has reported that companies with strong cultures see a 4X increase in revenue growth.
In other words, organizational culture does the make-or-break job of reflecting what your company stands for—and this has a real-world impact on its future.
If you want your ECE company to be ahead of the pack, it’s time to invest in culture.
The good news? You’re in the right place.
We've put together the ultimate guide to help you build an organizational culture everyone can be proud of.
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”—Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t”
Let’s get straight to it: companies only succeed if employees are genuinely invested in the brand.
That means asking the right recruitment questions to get the best people to do the best job.
Imagine the fallout if you employed someone who can't stand kids to market your ECE brand? (And, yes, we’ve seen it happen.)
Successful brands like KinderCare have already caught on. They use a values-based online assessment tool to “dig into natural talent,” allowing them to hand-pick applicants they know will live their values.
“We studied our culture and started to build a customized approach to selecting teachers who match our very best teachers,” said Wei-Li Chong, the company’s former CHRO.
“Children at centers employing more than 75% of system-recommended teachers showed a four-month developmental advantage,” said Wei-Li. “At the same centers—more than 1,000 in total—teacher turnover fell by at least 10% and overall employee turnover dropped by 25%.”
Lesson #1: Make sure you recruit the right people and the rest will take care of itself.
We all know actions speak louder than words—and when it comes to ECE business directors, leading by example is everything.
Because when leaders believe in their organization, everyone else starts to too.
According to the Disney Institute, “an organization’s values often are formed intentionally by proactive leaders… One can have an innovative culture, a creative culture, or even a toxic culture, and it likely stems from the behavior and actions demonstrated by the leaders of the organization.”
So, how do you get ready to dish out the pom-poms and leave everyone cheering for your business?
According to a report from Forbes, “Self-awareness has been cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop… Successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or compensate for them.”
This means understanding your strengths and weaknesses and surrounding yourself with employees that compliment your personal abilities.
Lesson #2: Get to know yourself. Celebrate your strengths, be open about your weaknesses, and recruit employees who are awesome at the stuff you're not.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words—we say a company vision is, too.
From Amazon to Apple, the world’s leading brands all agree that a simple, unifying vision is key to a great business culture.
Examples range from Nike’s hilarious 1960s mission to “crush Adidas” to Amazon’s slightly more heart-warming “to be Earth's most customer-centric company.”
Whichever way you choose to position yourself, remember: a company vision needs to achieve four main things:
Denise Lee Yohn, author of What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest, says, “With a single, unifying drive behind both your culture and your brand… you reap the benefits of a focused and aligned workforce.”
Lesson #3: Build a bold vision everyone can be proud of.
In an age where emotion is primarily expressed by meme, meaningful communication is more important than ever.
That means making sure people can connect with each other across your business whenever they need to, from wherever they are.
And no, we’re not hinting at loudspeakers.
Investing in communication technology is the name of the game. Whether it’s making sure employees understand how to use new technology, or offering an easy-to-use messaging solution to parents, getting your comms in order is the #1 priority for an awesome company culture.
Great communication makes employees feel supported and builds trust with millennial parents.
What’s not to love?
Here are a few things you'll need in order to do it right:
Lesson #4: Invest in tools that give your community the chance to communicate whenever, wherever.
Everyone loves a positive boss.
When you’re focusing on the sunny side of life, that outlook trickles down to everyone else in the company.
But sticking too firmly to your “everything will be fine” mindset can stop you from dealing with problems that really matter—and this has a direct impact on your organizational culture.
According to HR professional Patricia Knight, “When it comes to managing complaints, leaders need to keep an open mind. Knowing how to listen to and resolve complaints is a critical skill for every supervisor, manager, and team leader to possess.”
Here’s what to do if you find yourself with a challenging employee issue to deal with:
Lesson #5: Take your employees seriously and deal with problems with grace and gumption.
Changing your culture can feel like mission impossible, especially if you're starting from a low point.
Remember that nothing worth doing ever happens overnight. Take it one step at a time and remind yourself that the effort is worth it. Even a small change in the way you lead your teams today can have a massive impact on the health of your future tomorrow.