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In every business – no matter the industry – quality is a two-way street. The way a company is managed directly impacts the products and services they develop. Every business wants to deliver a quality product. But an organization can only deliver that great product if executives are great at managing and leading the company. Culture, in particular, is an essential part of this equation. To create a great customer experience, executives must develop a culture of quality, continuous improvement. Leadership is what builds that culture.
So how do you improve something abstract like leadership and culture? Executives need to apply similar strategies they use to optimize products. First, that means embracing metrics and measurability – keeping close track of data that gauges employee satisfaction, retention, engagement, etc. Executives can’t judge their corporate culture in the dark. They must be data-driven, just as they would be with customer satisfaction, sales or any other KPI. With that said, it’s important that they don’t completely abandon intuition and gut feeling. Leaders should combine hard data and their own anecdotal, human perspective to gain a 360 view of their culture.
Feedback is the next part of the equation. Leaders must proactively seek internal feedback from team members, ensuring that everyone is aligned, soliciting ideas for how they can do things better, and learning about pain points they may have been blind to. Aside from solving tangible problems, workers that feel heard are more likely to buy into the culture.
This dialogue should be bi-directional. Leaders must give clear feedback to their employees, which is critical to helping those employees grow and giving them opportunities to contribute in new ways. Open, two-way communication is equally as important for staff as it is for customers.
Finally, leadership innovation is critical. Executives must consider adopting bold new strategies and technologies to help them better manage and guide their companies. For example, every leader should be looking for ways they can optimize their use of the cloud and think about opportunities to roll out automation across their business. Technologies like cloud and automation have a massive impact on how workers do their jobs. When wielded correctly, they empower employees to do more and deliver greater business value.
Executives must take a holistic approach to leading their organizations. That means a top-down, bottom-up approach to successfully implement new best practices and cultural changes.
Creating culture is a mutual endeavor between leaders and employees. It’s on executives to ensure the conditions exist that allow workers to excel and be excellent. These leaders plant the seeds and create the right climate, but it’s up to employees – equipped with the right tools – to keep a good culture blooming.
Practically speaking, executives must hire, promote and reward individuals who regularly exhibit the core values these execs are trying to nourish. Individual teams and contributors cannot carry on these values and best practices by themselves. Otherwise, when a few key employees leave, those attitudes and habits will go out the door with them.
With that being the case, the entire business must embrace these principles as one – with executives leading by example. Commitment from the highest levels demonstrates accountability and provides a template for all employees to follow. If the C-suite is doing things a certain way, there’s no question that everyone else should follow suit.
Good leadership that creates great culture is a prerequisite to producing quality products. Company culture influences everything about products – from design to features to the hiring of the employees directly responsible for building the products. Poor culture poisons every one of these aspects, which then manifest as substandard or mediocre offerings. That ultimately means unhappy customers.
By prioritizing employee satisfaction metrics, supporting bi-directional feedback, and embracing innovation, executives can create a powerful culture that gives employees the tools, technologies, strategies and guidance they need to create high-quality solutions.
Check out these blogs to learn other strategies for delivering smart, high-quality products.