Estimated reading time: 3 mins
All organizations have culture. Culture is intangible, and a description of the default behaviors, tendencies and styles of its workforce. Your freelance organization is no different, but what is your ‘culture’?
Many organizations have ‘strong’ cultures that set them apart from others. We can look to Dr. Fathi El-Nadi (who writes his article ‘Examples Of Strong Corporate Cultures’ ) for some examples:
• Wal-Mart. Founder Sam Walton’s concern and respect for staff from the foundation of the company creates an environment of trust that persists to this day. Walton met staff, calling them by their first name and encouraged change to maintain the competitive edge. To this day, staff think about “how Sam would have done it”.
• Southwest Airlines. Its relaxed culture can be traced back to unconventional CEO Herb Kelleher, who encourages informality and wants staff to have fun at their jobs. Employees are valued, with Kelleher acknowledging births, marriages and deaths by notes and cards. Staff are encouraged to pitch in and help out, especially at check-in, giving Southwest turnaround times less than half the industry average.
• Hewlett Packard. Problems several years ago encouraged HP to change its culture; staff are required to formulate three personal and three professional goals each year, and are encouraged to cheer those that meet them, such as getting away early to be with family. Two years into the program, HP reports no loss in productivity despite staff working shorter hours and there is an increased staff retention rate. The program has been marked by the extent to which managers bought in, and modeled it in their personal lives.
The first two are examples where the founders have a heavy influence on the culture. Their organizations are created in their image, if you like. The organizations’ cultures reflect the principles, behaviours and style of their leaders. This is true for your ‘organization’ too – your freelance business.
Let’s face it – it’s unlikely that you’re going to create a business that isn’t akin to how you like to behave, and work. Why would you intentionally create a workplace that doesn’t fit you? If you did, you’d be crazy! But have you considered that this is a truism? Does your organization reflect your personality as you see it? More importantly, what do your customers think about your business… and what (in turn) does this say about you?
Laura Spencer (who I think is a great writer at the excellent blog FreelanceFolder.com ) tells us that in her long experience as a freelancer, she has seen 10 different freelancer types that have a strong effect on how business is done.
It can be fun and helpful to examine these freelancing personality types. Often times your freelancing personality type can show what makes you act the way you do as a freelancer.
Laura takes a light-hearted view – this analysis gives us a general view of the effect of personality rather than being a rule – although consider the point I made above: what do your customers see, and then infer about you as a person?
Well I hope to help you answer that question soon so you can understand how your customers view you and your business with the principle benefits being:
- Increased Customer Satisfaction and Engagement
- Increased Profits
- Lower Operating Costs
- Lower Business Risk
- Your Satisfaction and Increased Confidence
- Services Tuned and Optimized for Your Market
- Less Work, More Play
As a freelancer, it’s YOUR personality and behaviors that define, to what extent, how you achieve the above. They’re in YOUR hands! If you don’t know how your customers or associates perceive you, then how will you be effective in realizing them? Only by understanding how the world sees you will you know, and have choices how to respond. In this case, ignorance is NOT bliss…
As I said, it’s in your hands. However, sometimes we don’t know where to start! In recognition of this dilimma, I will soon be launching a course designed for freelancers that gives you the method and tools for obtaining and responding to customer feedback:
Become A Smart and Effective Freelancer
All I can say right now is that this course gives you all you need to realize the benefits above by engaging your customers smarter. It will launch in August 2009 to a limited number of freelancers – only 50 places will be available at launch.
Pre-registration will be available soon, so subscribe to my RSS feed and find out when!