Does Your Organization’s Culture Have a Shelf Life?

 

Former employees gather for the annual holiday gathering of The Barbers in 2013

Earlier this month, I gathered for a fun evening of food and drinks for the 19th annual holiday get together of my family’s business, The Barbers. What makes this remarkable, is that these yearly events continued after the business was sold in 1999 and all of the employees went their separate ways. And yet every year they come – a mix of former employees from all levels of the organization: senior executives, corporate staff, franchise owners, warehouse employees and salon staff.

What is it that continues to bring them together almost two decades later? I believe it can be attributed almost entirely to one thing: our company culture.

For the 36 years The Barbers was in business as a franchisor and salon operator, we built a very tightly knit community of people that both worked hard and played hard. Like every organization, we had our ups and downs, but the relationships we created there were very strong and meaningful – both inside the office and around the franchisee network.

How did we do it? Here are a few ways we built such a durable culture in our organization:

  • We Celebrated Together. Holidays, business milestones, anniversaries and achievements were equally celebrated at The Barbers.  If we hit our numbers, we held a party. And our annual Christmas parties were epic – the planning that went into those events made them very well remembered by employees and their families. It was fun!
  • There Was a Personal Touch. My mother (Co-Founder, Chairman) never forgot a birthday and would handwrite cards to every employee, every year. We weren’t a tiny organization, and this type of personal touch took some effort, but it made a difference in ensuring our employees felt very valued.
  • We Made it Fun. Beyond the annual parties, we worked to make our organization a fun place to be and work. Even as our company grew, we were able to maintain a fun, friendly workplace – it never really had a large “corporate” feel.

As an entrepreneur or franchisor today, it’s important to spend some time thinking about – and growing – your culture. It’s something that people will likely remember for years after they leave your organization… and what will keep them showing up at annual parties decades after your business is sold. Think about it and how to do it, and involve your people together!