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 In many industries, business leaders need to recognize culture’s crucial role within their business. Research indicates that fewer than 10% of companies succeed in building a winning culture. How is it that so many business leaders realize this importance, yet are doing very little about creating the ultimate culture for their business? What I believe helps to create a successful culture is first and foremost, your agency needs to have a unique personality and/or identity. It needs to be based on shared values in your agency, and it needs to have its character discovered from within. A distinct personality will help create a strong culture that in turn will bind people together and guide them in making the right decisions without someone having to supervise them and provide explicit direction. In order to turn commitment into strong performance, an agency’s personality needs to be complemented by the behaviors and motivation of the employees to continuously succeed.

“SHOOT for the stars”

There are several behaviors we really need to analyze, the first of which is the act of aiming high. This is so important because we don’t want our staff to be happy about the status quo, nor do we want to be happy being average- we want to excel.  Number two deals with energy.  This is what provides focus for us in dealing with not only our customers, but our competitors as well, and in some cases in both. This energy will assist our staff to think, act, and take responsibility, as if they are an owner. This same energy helps display high levels of commitment and passion, which in turn breeds hard work, and furthermore keeps your team ahead of the competition.
            A winning culture is not something that just happens overnight.  In many cases, before your agency will create a winning culture, it will most likely will fail (possibly even two or three times) before successfully conjuring a winning atmosphere. In order to build this culture, five key factors should be kept in mind, the first of which is being able to set expectations for a new culture and how it will result in success. 

Leader of the pack

          The second factor is putting together your leadership team. This leadership team needs to have a common vision and required behaviors because leadership is the key factor in any culture if you are going to succeed. When leaders lead they must do as they say and they must be consistent throughout their tenure. 

You have the right to remain RESPONSIBLE!

          The third factor is the organization’s focus and ability to deliver on its business agenda. Your culture needs to have accountability in order to succeed.  Without accountability, you cannot create a winning culture. Your agency needs to hold people liable for their actual delivery rather than spending energy on formal culture change or a culture change program. Don’t forget that culture is a means to an end, not the end


         Fourth is your leadership and ability to manage your agency’s culture through managing the drivers of your culture. We as agency owners have to encourage leadership every day, as well as walk the walk and talk the talk ourselves, while also defining and clarifying roles and accountabilities for the key jobs in your agency.  Replacing people where necessary is probably one of the biggest issues we find in agencies today. Make sure to add performance metrics and incentives into your staff reviews. These are another great way to ignite performance within your employees. I have good friend who owns an agency in New York who always says to me “you need to have the right people on the bus in order to drive the bus in the direction you need to go.”  If you do one thing today, and only one thing, I would tell you to sit down and evaluate each and every staff member and make sure that they are on the same bus that you are driving.

Always keep an open line

         The fifth factor is the ability to communicate. Your culture change is not going to be a short journey, it’s good to be a long haul which will require tireless leadership. Make sure your agency sustains a consistent line of communication which is  in line with the required behaviors you have previously set forth. One way to accomplish this is by celebrating victories whether they are large or small. When creating a winning culture, we cannot forget to measure our victories day-to-day from the front lines. Here’s one way of looking at it:  each day is a battle, we’re in it for the long haul in order to win the war.

       If you adhere to these five factors on a daily basis, and keep the right mindset, you can create a winning culture within your agency. As Jimmy V says, “never give up, never, never, never give up.” If you fail, get back up and try again because statistics show that when we try to create a winning culture, in most circumstances, we will fail at least once before we ever succeed. I can assure you my agency failed miserably in 2009 when it came to looking at its agency culture. Today in 2013, our agency has completely changed its culture and its success. It was not easy, and I promise you there were many times the idea of giving up ran through my head, but the key is to always remember what Jimmy V said: “never give up”.  Wishing your agency a very successful culture change in 2013!