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How to create an enviable company culture.

Strong company culture isn't created overnight. Get started on your strategic plan today.

How to create an enviable company culture.

Company culture is a hot topic among leadership teams across the country. Like many others, we're working hard to create a culture that's consistent and high-performing. Our culture is based on a well-socialized value system that has become the root of our mindset and behavior.

Do you ever wonder how companies like Google and Zappos developed their cultures? Here are a few things to think about when developing your company's culture.

It All Starts with Shared Values.
Strong cultures have behavior systems that are both clearly outlined and aligned with their strategy, operations, and human resources.  
*Our values are represented in each one of our presentations, job descriptions, performance reviews, incentive programs, and interactions with clients.
*We rally around the ideals that are most meaningful to us. This makes them a foundation that differentiates us in the market.

We believe in three Cs:

Curious          We never stop learning or exploring.
Creative         We light up the room with engaging imagination.
Courageous   We are fearless and are up for any challenge.

Drill Down to Reveal a Clear Purpose.
Culture and leadership are inextricably linked. We have strategic initiatives around culture. It is a pillar of our annual plan, complete with scorecard measures and leadership accountability.
*The way we learn, train, work, and represent ourselves always reinforces our purpose: Moving mountains for clients. This alignment is critical to team engagement and consistency in our approach, process, and client experience.
*We believe our business will continue to grow with the right people, working in the right way with our purpose in mind.
" We ask a lot of questions, challenge each other, collaborate, and push for a better answer as a normal course of business.  

People, People, People.
We believe all voices matter. To have a fully engaged culture, you must stay open to new inputs and adapt to meet the organization's needs.
*We ask our new employees to write down their thoughts over the course of their first 30 days here: what they like, don't like, would do differently. This gives us an opportunity to learn and improve, frequently.
*Annual engagement surveys are a great way to learn what is and isn't working. They have helped us evolve into a full-service creative agency which won a spot in "Best Places to Work 2017" by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
*If you do a survey, you have to follow through. Present the findings publicly, talk about what you learned and what you'll do to address priority topics. Without this, the process is pointless. 

Employee engagement doesn't happen overnight.  What begins with changing attitudes ends with inspiring and affecting behavior.

Awareness (Day 1)
*Understands the company
*Understands role and benefits of the company
*Understands emphasis on delivering experience

Knowledge (Day 30)
* Familiar with the strategy
*Familiar with the right company experiences
* Knows what expected behavior is

Belief (4-6 months)
*Believes they can make a difference
*Believes they can be an ambassador of the company
* Believes it's in their interest to deliver on it

Delivery (9-12 months)
* Actively delivers on the company culture
* Recognized and rewarded for success
* Convinces others to become ambassadors for the company
* Changes behavior

Now It's Time to Reinforce and Reward.
Hands down, you have to practice what you preach. If you're talking culture, purpose, and values, you need a clear system in place to reinforce and recognize those that uphold and carry them forward. We have three levels of rewards.
* "Y-5's" are handwritten notes given Yamamotoan to Yamamotoan as recognition for hard work.
* We vote quarterly for someone who pushes us all to the next level. The "Get Sh** Done" award is given out at an all-company meeting. It's honored with an oversized necklace, roving desktop trophy, and financial incentive. 
* Our year-end "Pinnacle Award" celebrates-with a monetary incentive-the one person who makes us better each day and moves mountains for our clients. 

In 2017, Yamamoto had its highest revenue of the last 11 years, hired 12 new people, and won a "Best Places to Work" award.

So, What's the Bottom Line?
Having a strong culture isn't just about freebies and amazing benefits for your employees. When done properly, it's a comprehensive, thoughtful strategy that works to successfully attract and retain employees, boost productivity, give your brand a voice, win and keep clients, and ultimately increase revenue. I truly believe it's the cornerstone of our success at Yamamoto.


Kathy McCuskey
Chief Executive Officer