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Why Culture Needs To Come First In Business

‘If your technicians are going to work with customers and they are literally wiping tears out of their eyes because they hate going to work every day, your customer is going to pick up on this stuff,’ a ConnectWise executive says in an XChange 2018 session.

Culture is the foundation of every business, which means that if a company fails to actively shape its culture it may end up on the wrong path.

That's according to Topher Barrow, a product marketing manager at Tampa, Fla.-based business software vendor ConnectWise, who delivered a talk on business culture at The Channel Company's XChange 2018 event Tuesday.

During Barrow's session, he showed a leadership pyramid model that helps ConnectWise determine how to build a healthy, forward-thinking business. At the bottom of the pyramid was culture, followed by vision, goals and challenge, which sat at the pyramid's tip.

"Culture is that one thing that if you didn't put your goals in place and if you didn't create your vision …culture is still going to build itself," he said. “But if you don't make an effort to shape that culture, it's probably not going to be the product of the company that you really want it to be."

Barrow said culture begins as soon as a company is established and hires its first employees, which is why it's important to be deliberate about what that culture looks like.

That message resonated with Dean Schamore, founder of Digital Connections Plus, a Hardinsburg, Ky.-based solution provider, who agreed that it's important to be proactive with shaping culture.

"If you start someone [as a new employee] and they understand your culture, it's a lot easier going forward than trying to change things after they started doing things a certain way," he said.

During his session, Barrow said if a business does not take a proactive approach to culture it can lead to unexpected consequences that customers may pick up on.

"If your technicians are going to work with customers and they are literally wiping tears out of their eyes because they hate going to work every day, your customer is going to pick up on this stuff," he said.

To make employees happy and keep retention high, Barrow said it's important that companies provide career growth opportunities as well as perks. For ConnectWise, one of those incentives is a Master's degree tuition reimbursement program that Barrow said he is taking advantage of.

Barrow said once a culture is established, the company can then focus on building its vision. This entails identifying the business sweet spot and brainstorming with teams to get multiple perspectives on which areas the company is a strong player in and what drives its passion.

"You should be the ones who evangelize your vision and culture," Barrow said.

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