By Amy McDonald, FONA President
A caring culture leads directly to the growth of a business.
Yes, “caring.” It might seem counter-intuitive at a time when many companies appear to prioritize profits over people. But truly, both are equally essential — people and business growth. There might be this idea that you can’t have a caring culture and a high performing culture at the same time. I say, defy that assumption!
Each relies on the other; there are no profits without the work of the people, and salaries rely on profitability. And where does it all start? With the company culture.
I believe that caring means the highest of expectations. Caring means high growth. How? I wanted to share just a few (of the many) key parts to this, from a FONA perspective…
A caring environment doesn’t mean a free pass. “Caring” doesn’t mean avoiding difficult conversations. Just the opposite, in fact.
To grow, all sides have to listen. Feedback is precious. It’s why FONA works with a third party to evaluate our employee engagement. It’s why customer audits are to be cherished. Feedback strengthens and informs. Providing feedback is an act of caring. What a business doesn’t know can hurt it. If FONA ever started to veer from the core values, we rely upon employees and customers to raise the alarm.
Similarly, communication and feedback is key if an employee isn’t meeting expectations. Difficult feedback is never fun to give or receive. All sides have to listen. Without perspective from others, we’re living in a vacuum. Not taking or responding to feedback corrodes trust, and trust is essential.
“Facta, non verba” is essential to business growth (and actually a great topic for a future post — note to self). It boils down to: actions speak louder than words. It’s great to say you have a caring business culture. It’s admirable to explore gaps in employee engagement and promise improvements. But, where is the action? A step further: programs and benefits are one thing, but are employees empowered to act boldly?
Our founder Joe recently shared some wisdom with the company, “Demonstrate a bias towards action. Growth only comes from activity. Mediocrity due to inaction will always cost us more than failure.”
That’s advice we take seriously as we work to empower every employee to be unafraid to act. A caring culture means people are encouraged to push for more, better. Caring means allowing them to take ownership in the future of the business. When people know that their colleagues and leaders have their backs, taking action is the norm.
If FONA is not living out its core values at all levels, we will not grow. Our values are a constant. No matter the fluctuations in other parts of the industry, we know one thing for certain: If we stay true to our values, prioritize a caring culture – business results follow.
We are so fortunate to have a Values Team as a company. This team takes the time each month to discuss our core values, including what we are doing well and where we see improvement opportunities. It’s an opportunity to look ourselves in “the mirror” so to speak, and honestly evaluate how well the leadership (and the company as a whole) is living these core values.
Personally, I love values team. It’s a finger on the pulse of the business – and an opportunity for inward reflection. It’s often a lightbulb moment. Am I as a leader truly listening to those around me? Am I following up and asking, “is this working better for you?” There is more I can personally do.
What works for you and your workplace? Where do you see opportunity for improvement? This was just a quick look at a few things that can foster a caring culture and a high-growth business, but there’s plenty more to share.
Thanks for reading,