Winter is the time that most businesses hunker down and plan the coming year. For many, it is a bit slower business climate and for others, the weather simply keeps us inside. It’s a time to reflect on the past year, what worked, what didn’t and how to improve.

It’s a lot like making New Year’s Resolutions – we individually resolve to try to do better – better at eating or exercise. We take on these plans with earnest intent, but often, we establish goals that, for the most part, are unobtainable. By green up, these resolutions are a little more than a fleeting memory. In many ways, I think the word resolution has come to mean – promises I won’t keep.

Last month, I suggested that people adopt a ten-foot circle with the goal of positively impacting anyone who comes within that circle. One little acknowledgement with a smile or a word of greeting can chip away at the increasingly disconnected society in which we live. I stated that I believe it will change the culture of our community.

So, business owners, managers, and employees, as you plan your year, perhaps you could take a similar challenge. How can the ten- foot circle apply for you? Could utilizing it be a starting point to change your business culture? You could start by asking your team a few deep questions about your business.

First, can you describe the culture of your business? What is the prevailing attitude of your company? Is it upbeat, uplifting or inviting? Does your environment compel people to visit? Do your employees want to come to work – or is it like pulling teeth? Do employees know the big picture of your business? What do the interactions between employees and customers look and sound like?

All these questions speak to the personality of the business. Think about it, if your business was a person – would it be someone you would want to be around? What would their voice sound like? Would it be warm and friendly or perhaps, harsh and screeching? The personality and the voice are emblematic of your business culture and that speaks volumes to your clients. If you can subscribe to this line of thinking, then you’ll also recognize that developing a positive culture within your business should be the preeminent component of your plan.

All of us can think about businesses in our community and how they make us feel as we walk through the door. And mind you, I’m not speaking about customer service – although it has a direct correlation, but rather, the expectation you have of how you feel when you walk in the door. Those of you who recall Reindeer Ranch, know what I mean. Businesses who create this type of culture are noticeable. And those who “have to” go there, do so with a smile on their face. So, as you plan your year, think about your business culture, what it is and what it should be. Then create some guidelines for your team to live the culture!

In 2020, make your company culture matter and you’ll reap rewards for years to come.


Insert quote

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

– Simon Sinek, author, Start with Why


7 Tips for Creating a Positive Workplace Culture 

The following tips are excerpted from an article by Veronique James, former CEO of The James Agency and published in Inc., Magazine, July 2018.


Here are seven tips I’ve used to build a work environment where my team and I can thrive:

  1. Begin with gratitude

It is a privilege, not a right, to work together. Begin each week with a 15-minute, all-hands team meeting where the first item on the agenda is team kudos. Giving people a vehicle to express appreciation for one another raises the morale of the entire group, establishes a positive tone for the week and helps people feel acknowledged and valued.

  1. Create a safe environment.

There is nothing more damaging than toxicity in a workplace environment. It stifles new ideas and inhibits collaboration. Creating a safe work environment means eliminating negative personalities and respecting every idea.  Lead with honesty, integrity and vulnerability to help your employees feel safe.

  1. Don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink.

This metaphor essentially means, “Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean.” Not leaving a mess is the functional interpretation, but the emotional definition is, “Respect everyone’s time.” If someone has to take time away from their daily responsibilities to clean up after you, you are basically saying you don’t care about their time. Time is our most valuable currency.

  1. There are only opportunities in business, not problems.

When emotions are high and stress levels skyrocket, even the smallest workplace issues can seem like towering boulders. Every problem is an an opportunity to reflect, analyze and evaluate so that next time–and there’s always a next time–we’ll do better.

  1. Consistency is key.

There are so many new trends in company culture: It’s easy to be tempted by what may seem like worthwhile practices, but the same tactics don’t work for every company. Consistency is key, rather than being distracted by the latest professional culture craze. Although change can be healthy, disrupting a good thing can be detrimental and affect the cultural balance of your organization.

  1. Encourage positive thinking.

Life is short. Why waste time on negative behaviors that don’t align with your business’ moral compass? Encourage your team to think positively–All. The. Time. Even when things seem to be spinning out of control or we didn’t achieve the result we anticipated, positive thinking will eventually cultivate positive outcomes.

  1. Don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent.

It’s easy to forego team meetings for an urgent client call or another meeting, but that connection with your team is crucial to maintaining a positive workplace culture. Without regular connection to your people, the mission, vision and energy of the business can quickly dilute and degrade your cultural fiber.


Dependability, structure, clarity and meaningful work are all ingredients that, when combined, can culminate in a solid foundation for a positive workplace. Add your own awesome sauce and voila … you have the magic recipe!