Use the downtime caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to review and improve your company's culture
For many of us, this world looks different. Homebuyers are more cautious, fewer people are working from the office, and reports like “home cancelations” are trending. But even with the uncertainty of running a business during a pandemic, there is no better time to get your company right than right now.
As the former executive director of a global nonprofit working with home builders across the nation, I’ve forged a lot of great relationships and peered under the hood of some amazing organizations. The one thing they all have in common is, “culture is king.” A bad culture will break you, and a great culture will make you.
What Is Company Culture?
The word comes from the Latin word cultura and simply means ‘to care.’ So what does someone like you or me do with this new-found wisdom about the word culture, and how does it help our company climb out of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Well, that’s a great question requiring a new perspective. My grandfather was a man of few—but memorable—words. He told me he would prefer a short pencil over a long memory, and if you walk a mile in another man’s shoes, then at least you have his shoes.
Are we really talking about another man’s shoes? Nope. We're talking about a new perspective, a different point of view, and when it comes to culture, who couldn't benefit from a free pair of shoes? So it’s time to loosen those lace-string loafers and force your heels deep into a pair of farmer’s tall, stock leather boots because it’s dangerous ground we are about to walk on. However, if you're ready to reap a harvest of margin from a crop of homes built in 2020, you'll benefit from the 20/20 perspective of a farmer.
The Farmer's Perspective
A farmer manages dirt into soil so that seeds produce a crop. If a wise farmer took a look at your home building business, he would tell you that you manage dirt too. You’d probably reply, “Yeah our land guy does an awesome job.” Puzzled, he would look back at you and say, “I’m talking about your employees, dummy.” He’d tell you that there are only four conditions of dirt: tight, rocky, thorny, and great. Then he would go on to tell you what each type needs to produce a crop: tight soil needs encouragement, rocky soil needs education and/or assistance, thorny soil needs reminding, and great soil needs rest.
Knowing the four conditions of dirt and what is needed so they produce a crop load of profitable homes is one thing; knowing how much dirt a farmer is capable of cultivating is another.
Start by asking a simple question: “Would it be possible to spend 30 minutes each week with each of my direct reports?” If the answer is No, then your organization is too heavy in a given area. But that’s OK, just care for the soil you can.