Ian’s Articles available on Forbes.com

I spent some time in a business last week. Some of their employees were amazing, and some were just going through the motions and performing their work at the minimum level. The interesting twist is that the business I experienced is a hospital. I quickly discovered how one person can make or break a customer experience. It makes you wonder if the issue is with the people or the environment. It also caused me to reflect on some brilliant minds I have spoken with about what makes a great place to work.

In my annual Top Ten Business Trends article, trend number 6 reads, “Leaders Will Invest In A Corporate Culture Of Customer Service To Grow Revenue.” Several companies have embraced this philosophy and have established themselves as the best places for employees and customers alike. This means that their customers, employees, and bottom-line all thrive together.

Best Place To Work

Glassman Wealth Services has been recognized as a “Best Place To Work” By Washingtonian Magazine and the Washington Business Journal. I recently interviewed Barry Glassman, President of Glassman Wealth about how they create such a great work environment. In his business, exceptional service and care of his clients is the top priority.

Glassman describes himself as a colorblind photographer. Their hiring criteria might surprise you: “We hire curious people who are passionate,” says Glassman. “We have a professional chef, a professional golfer, a pilot, etc.” You might be surprised by the questions he shares that they ask during the interview process. Barry explained that if employees don’t have passions in other areas, they are probably not going to be passionate about serving clients. He also seeks curiosity. You’ll have to listen to the episode to hear what he had to say about Curious George – just don’t have any beverages in your mouth when you get to that part of the interview.

Glassman and his team seek people who share their values and passion. This allows each person to express their individuality and all work together toward a common goal. These top performers all support each other to create a dynamic environment. When you walk into their office, you get a sense that everyone there knows it is a special firm.

The interesting observation I had during my time visiting a family member at the hospital was that the top performers caused everyone else to raise the level of their game. Unfortunately, when a lazy performer was on staff, they brought everyone else down to their level. One individual can make a difference. My mother used to say, “Everyone brightens a room – Some when they enter, others when they leave.” Is it possible that one person in your company attracts customers, while another repels them?

Have To Vs. Get To

Joe Mechlinski, bestselling author of Grow Regardless and CEO of Entrequest said something valuable during my podcast interview with him. Joe noted “You can look at what you HAVE to do, or what you GET to do. Often people will say to me that they ‘have to pick up their kids.’ I prefer to think that I ‘GET to pick them up.” Joe’s company, coincidentally, is recognized as the Best Place To Work in Baltimore, Maryland. Joe has an advantage in that his company is in the business of helping companies build great business cultures to achieve remarkable growth.

According to Mechlinski, “There is no Ikea manual of instructions and pictures for building a best place to work … and if there is, don’t waste your time or money on it. Becoming an organization with an exceptional culture and environment is not just about the workplace tangibles like pay and benefits. What it’s all about is the strategic alignment of your employees behind your vision. When your whole team is inspired and unified by the work they do, when they’re passionate about making a difference and changing the lives of the people they help, then you’ve set off on the right track to creating a powerful culture.”

In your work, do you think of the things that you get to do, or have to do. One of the nurse aides, Brianne, was exceptional. I complimented her on her amazing attitude and engagement. You could tell she loved her profession. Brianne’s response speaks volumes: “If I am going to come here and work, why would I not do everything I possibly can to give him the best care possible? If not, then what’s the point? I GET TO make a difference for people every day. I’m lucky!” What would your business be like if everyone took that perspective in your organization?

Put These Ideas To Work

If you want to work in an environment with an amazing culture, then take the steps to make a difference. You don’t have to wait for your CEO to define it. As Robert Richman, author of The Culture Blueprint says, “You cannot impose a culture on others. Cultures happen when people define their own culture and purpose.”

Get To vs. Have To: Each day speak with your colleagues about what you get to do for clients and co-workers. Just that perspective makes a difference.

Break The Weak Link: One bad apple can spoil the batch. If you have someone who can’t get on board with positive thinking, don’t let them hold back the rest of the bunch. Help them find a place that is a better fit for them

Define A Vision: Brianne realized that her job was about impacting human lives. Others thought their job was the mechanics of nursing. If you have a broader vision of the impact you have on the world, then you can have passion… and maybe even as Barry Glassman says, Curiosity.

It’s Your Turn

Where have you seen an amazing culture make a huge difference in an otherwise routine business?

Creating Company Culture

Tune In Here