The recent cultural issues at Uber has highlighted the importance of business culture. In more than seven years, the ride-sharing giant has blown up into a $70 billion business operating in more than 70 countries.
News of Uber’s plights broke early this year and the company was exposed to a bad light. While there is no denying that Uber has an effective and profitable business model, there are key lessons that business owners can learn from their cultural woes.
Failure to Focus on Culture is a Great Risk
Uber was and is a successful business in terms of growth. Their exponential progress and the cash flow that resulted caused the company to lose focus on its cultural development. The loss of cultural focus placed Uber at risk.
It can be exhilarating when your business experiences periods of rapid growth. The excitement the growth spurt brings can cause tunnel vision that shades other parts of your business that need attention. Specifically, you should not fail to focus on culture. You need to decide what sort of culture you desire, then build it and manage it. The culture of your business has a direct impact on your employees, and they are the ones that make your products, deliver on your pledges, and make the daily decisions that affect the way you operate. As Uber showed, ignoring cultural development is a risk to your business.
Employee Feedback Builds a Healthy Culture
In addition to ignoring their culture, Uber ignored employee feedback. Uber received complaints about the behaviour of some of their top managers. Because of their otherwise stellar performance, Uber left some executives in top posts despite troubling reports from subordinates. The lesson: build employee feedback into your business. Make it periodic, and take the feedback seriously. Employees do not often feel at ease to give feedback, especially if it is negative. Healthy companies regularly ask for feedback from employees at all levels. Giving your employees a voice builds trust and is crucial for developing a healthy business culture.
Top Management Should Set and Model Values
The most successful companies make work culture a priority. It is the responsibility of top managers to identify the business’ core purpose, create the framework for the culture, and model the values espoused by the culture. Company boards, in particular, can guide company values. They are responsible for hiring the top officers, and they must ensure that the people they put in those positions reflect those same values. Uber's failure shows how top management affects company values with their actions.
Healthy culture is critical to business success. It is not easy to develop and maintain. Businesses that can articulate what they stand for can inspire their people to work and dedicate themselves to the company’s bigger purpose. But, as Uber shows, the lack of a healthy business culture is potentially disastrous.
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