Why is culture so important?
It’s times like these when a company’s culture is really put to the test. But what is “company culture”?
It is defined as “a set of shared values which shape how members of a team take decisions, act and feel”, but why is it so important?
Firstly, let’s face it, everyone wants to enjoy their work - life is more fun that way! Enjoyment breeds enjoyment, it enables top results and it encourages world-class customer service. If you love the company you work for, you’ll care about your work, you’ll go above and beyond to do a good job, and in turn you will deliver impressive results. What’s more, you’re likely to do it all with a smile, and smiles are infectious!
Lots of businesses claim to have a good company culture, but what makes a “good” culture? Surely that depends on who you’re talking to? We believe that the key is in finding an environment where you can be the best version of yourself, where the culture plays to your strengths and where you will ultimately be happiest and most successful.
Being an independent, family business, our culture is hugely important to everyone at D&G and is something that we reflect on constantly. Just last week we asked every member of the business “How would you describe D&G to a friend?” The most used word was FUN, closely followed by reward, people, family, friendly and of course, hard work! In a sales organisation, where working hard is a given, it’s important to keep the balance.
Our culture is strong. We work hard on it, and make it a top priority, but in a business of around 200 people, how do we maintain that? I think it comes down to two things: recruitment and leadership.
We communicate our company culture to candidates from the word go and make it very clear that the recruitment process is a two-way decision. Are you right for us? But equally, are we right for you? By being as open as possible and taking the time to showcase our culture throughout that process, we hope to find individuals who display a can-do attitude and unwavering belief, not only in themselves, but also in what D&G aims to achieve.
Leadership is not effective from an ivory tower. Our leaders are in our offices alongside their teams, spending quality time with their people, training, motivating and involved in the day to day. They are a key part of the culture, not watching from the side-lines.
When you’re recruiting the right people, and the belief is there, the rest falls into place, until a global pandemic hits the world.
Covid-19, as we all know, came out of nowhere and turned our world upside down. For some it’s an uncomfortable change, for others it’s heart-breaking and life changing.
At D&G, like any organisation, different people have been affected differently by the virus, but the one thing that has been consistent and stable has been the incredible support and camaraderie of our people.
Lots of us have faced very challenging times. Some of our people have been completely floored by personal loss, we have been forced to place some staff members on furlough leave who would love to be working, others have struggled to juggle childcare with work, many are living alone, and some have dealt with unprecedented workloads and enormous levels of questions and worries from our clients, but through it all, the core stability of the D&G culture; the understanding, the caring nature of our people, the team “muck in” attitude that we are so proud of, has shone through. It’s enough to make you feel a bit emotional!
Suddenly facing a remote workforce, our first focus was communication! Embracing technology has enabled our culture to flourish, our staff to support each other and helped us to maintain our customer service levels and the results we achieve for our clients.
But it goes further than the working day. Over the past weeks we have run more social events than ever before (and we are not lacking a get together normally!). We have had entire company Zoom meetings celebrating the hard work and success of our people, there have been bingo nights, quizzes, murder mysteries and A LOT of fancy dress. We also took this time to really focus on everyone’s wellbeing by running lots of virtual wellness seminars from motivation and habit building to sleep and posture.
If we’re looking for a silver lining, for me, there are a few:
As an Estate Agent, our day to day lives rely on meeting lots of people, going into people’s homes, and welcoming people into our offices for a cup of tea. Without any of this we have had to adapt, fast! As a result, we have discovered new ways of working, improved processes and discovered ways to be more efficient. As a result, in many ways, we will come out of this stronger than we went into it.
In lots of ways, being physically apart improves your communication as a team. It becomes even more important and forces you to consciously consider how to keep in touch and how a message should be delivered. These habits and processes will have lasting positive benefits well beyond Covid-19.
I know I am not alone in experiencing a real gratitude for anything and everything “normal”. Never again will we take for granted our gorgeous working environment; the office buzz and the coffee from the café next to the office. I will also never take for granted the physical company of inspiring colleagues and working for a company with people who genuinely care. Let’s hope we never lose this perspective and appreciation of the small things.