Does Your Business Have Its Own Unique Personality?
As an organization grows and develops, the personality of that organization goes through various transformations. This is similar to kids growing through the many child development stages. A business can move in and out of an infancy period, the developmental years, the wild teenage period, a maturity phase and even post maturity. Along these stages, the personality of the organization transforms. For some owners and entrepreneurs, this brings on confusion and that feeling of being out-of-sorts with their own business.
Business Growth Stages
When a business is in start-up mode and infancy, the entrepreneurial owner’s personality IS the business. There is no separation between the two entities. This is how the business reputation is first created. If the owner is hard charging, energetic, takes risks, and loves R&D, then this is the reputation the customers perceive to be that of the company. If the owner of the company happens to be supportive to every need, quiet in his/her approach to customers but regularly goes out of the way to accommodate, then that business may get a reputation for attentive customer service and a “You can count on me” approach.
As the business begins to grow and rises to the challenges of an ever changing industry, the owner is pushed into the developmental stages and the teen wild years. With partners, managers, supervisors and key employees now onboard, there is no longer a single personality forming the reputation. The business becomes its own entity and a business personality begins to emerge.
This is a critical period for any organization. What type of personality does it have, or should it have? What do the actions and performances of the workforce tell your customers and prospects?
What type of reputation does (or did) your “teenage” organization portray to the public…
- Wild and crazy?
- Unprofessional and uncontrolled?
- Creative and lively?
- Willing to try anything for their customers?
What type of reputation will (or does) your mature organization portray…
- Structured and set in your ways?
- Traditional and wishing the past could come back?
- Focused on continuous improvement and embracing change?
- No risk, better not rock the boat?
Personality Becomes Culture
For some organizations, the owner’s personality is so strong and pervasive that even through all the growth stages, the personality remains intact; however, it is no longer seen as just the owner’s—it has actually morphed into the organization’s unique personality.
For other businesses, the owner’s personality falls by the wayside, only to be replaced by a combination of behaviors instilled by various members of the workforce. This begins to transform itself into the business’ unique brand presence.
The concern is not who started or owned the personality in the first place. The concern is whether or not the personality portrayed is helping your organization or hindering it. This personality becomes your culture and once it becomes established, it is difficult to change or remove.
WHO exactly is leading that culture and making sure it supports your brand in the marketplace in a positive way? If you cannot identify your company’s unique personality, then your culture is more than likely taking a hit. It is probably being bombarded with various actions and behaviors from employees, vendors, and customers and sending mixed messages about performance expectations. This is where leadership must step in and help their organization to define the behaviors and expectations needed to best support the needs of the company and its customers.
Don’t Leave it to Chance
Letting your personality and your culture happen by chance allows “Shadow Organizations” to take root from within. These are sub-culture groups whose behaviors (silently) disregard your systems, your protocols, your mission and value statements, and your expectations.
As a leader, set up a strategy session with your key team members and assess your culture.
Download this free guide: Culture Identification for Leadership Teams and get started.
Terri Wilcox is co-founder of Resultants For Business, a non-traditional business advisory firm focusing on Strategic Execution incorporating EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. RFB turns complex problems into simple solutions by helping entrepreneurs and their management teams implement the framework and tools proven to accelerate growth and drive value. You can reach Terri at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-386-2800.