Secrets of building positive cultures

The link between staff engagement and client experience is clear. But firms find it challenging to build the kind of workplace cultures that staff want. We've gone back to two classics on the subject for some inspiration.

July 23, 2023

At Client Culture we are big believers in the importance of building positive cultures in your organisation. Positive cultures inspire your people to deliver for clients and customers. We are big fans of two excellent books on building culture. The first is "The Culture Code" by Daniel Coyle where he explores the strategies and practices of high-performing organisations. The second is the classic "The Trusted Advisor" by David Maister, which provides David’s typically rich insights into how firms can create a culture that fosters trust and builds strong relationships with clients. Here are key takeaways from both books.

Establish psychological safety

Psychological safety is the belief that one can speak up, take risks, and share ideas without fear of retribution or embarrassment. To create psychological safety, leaders need to foster an environment of trust, respect, and openness, where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. In addition, David Maister highlights the importance of building trust with clients by demonstrating competence, honesty, and reliability. When clients trust their advisors, they are more likely to seek their advice and follow their recommendations.

Develop a shared purpose and values

A strong culture is grounded in a shared purpose and set of values that everyone in the organisation believes in and works toward. Leaders should involve their employees in defining the organization's purpose and values, and ensure that they are communicated effectively throughout the organisation. In addition, David Maister emphasises the importance of aligning the organization's values with the values of its clients. When clients see that their advisors share their values, they are more likely to trust and rely on them.

Encourage collaboration and communication

Collaboration and communication are critical to building a strong culture. Leaders should create opportunities for employees to work together, share ideas, and collaborate on projects. They should also ensure that communication channels are open and accessible, so that employees can share information and ideas freely. In addition, David Maister stresses the importance of active listening and effective communication with clients. Advisors should listen carefully to their clients' needs and concerns, and communicate clearly and effectively to build trust and credibility.

Embrace vulnerability and learning

A culture of learning and growth is essential for innovation and continuous improvement. Leaders should create an environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes, and where failure is seen as an opportunity for learning and growth. Leaders should also model vulnerability by acknowledging their own mistakes and shortcomings, and by being open to feedback and criticism. In addition, David Maister emphasises the importance of ongoing learning and development for advisors. Advisors should continually seek to improve their skills and knowledge to better serve their clients.

Recognise and reward excellence

Recognising and rewarding excellence is critical for building a strong culture. Leaders should identify and acknowledge employees who embody the organisation's values and contribute to its success. They should also provide opportunities for professional development and advancement, so that employees feel valued and motivated to continue to excel. In addition, David Maister emphasises the importance of demonstrating excellence to clients. Advisors should strive to provide the highest level of service and expertise to build trust and loyalty with their clients.

By focusing on these strategies, firms can build better cultures that are more productive, engaged, and innovative, while also fostering trust and strong relationships with clients. Building a strong culture takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it. With a strong culture in place, firms can attract and retain top talent, improve performance, and achieve their goals.

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