HR & Staffing Productivity

How To Create a Great Culture in your Trade Business 

Written by Jon Dale

The concept of ‘Company Culture’ can feel a bit airy-fairy. Big companies seem to be splashing money on ping pong rooms and foosball tables, team building days (with everyone paid their salary of course), fun activities like paintball and fridges full of free booze and food.

For a small business owner, offering the perks that I have mentioned can seem like a waste of time and money, especially if you’re already working hard to keep your books in the green. 

However, if you don’t invest in a positive and supportive culture for your business, you could quickly wind up with a toxic and antagonistic workplace, with unmotivated workers who resent doing their job, potentially ruining your companies reputation in the process.

Good Culture Vs Bad Culture 

If you have a good culture, you’ll have better staff retention rates, your people will be more engaged and enthusiastic, they’ll take pride in working hard, take more care when doing tasks, and interact better with your customers, each other even you! 

In a workplace with bad culture, employees cut corners, argue with supervisors, each other and even customers, have a  grumpy and sullen attitude, complete tasks slowly and shoddily, resist innovation and generally hold your business back. 

And the worst thing is, it will be your fault. Like most of the things I talk about here, culture comes from the top down, and as the owner and boss of your business, it is your responsibility. 

If you don’t put in the effort to create the kind of company culture that you do want, one might develop that you definitely won’t want.

So how do you define company culture, and more importantly, how do you go about creating the kind you want?

What is Culture? 

It’s the personality of a business and the environment in which everybody works.

It includes a number of elements like, the work environment, company mission, values, ethics, expectations & goals.

In a trade business, it includes: 

  • Your values 
  • Your mission (what kind of work you do and what kind of business we want to be) 
  • How staff are  expected to behave (including you)
  • How you look after your people 

I get my clients to write a clear cultural plan and present it to their staff.We discuss leading and managing — that’s part of it — sharing the vision for where the business is going, how it plans to get there and progress milestones to reach along the way 

We also define what we expect of our people and how to manage their performance in a consistent and transparent way.

The culture should address, but is not limited to:

  • Policies for holidays and sickness 
  • Bonuses, recognition and reward programs
  • Pastoral care (health insurance) and massages, physio if roles are physically demanding
  • How you pay (compared to everyone else) 
  • Parties and fun 
  • Meetings, coffees, lunches and staff drinks

To a great extent, it’s about you reciprocating. You ask your staff to work hard and do their best for you and the business and you reciprocate by looking after them in return. 

Not just by paying them, but also by clearly laying out your commitments to them, and always following through.

Have you ever really given thought to how important that airy-fairy concept of ‘company culture’ is?

I didn’t until I was taught about it, and now it’s something that I know is vital to my business, and we have a great plan and amazing culture. In my business, we all win and everybody loves that and tries hard. We’re only a small business (four people) just like you, and believe me, a little bit of planning and investment really pays off. 

“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

Jon Dale

Jon Dale, of Small Fish Business Coaching is a business coach for tradies - trades business owners wanting to grow their businesses. His articles will help you understand how to manage your marketing, sales, operational systems and the people of your business. His program is called the Tradies Toolbox because he hopes you can use it, like a tool, to make more money and build a business you're proud of.

There are a few ways you can explore whether working with Jon is right for you, right now:
1. You can watch these videos - subscribe here to get them emailed every week.
2. You can join the Tradies Business Toolshed Facebook Group and participate.
3. You can attend the next Tools Down Workshop - 2 days of Jon explaining the framework.
4. Or you can book a 10-minute filter call where you and Jon will both look at whether he can help.

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