Something that I know, for sure, is that at the intersection of a successful business and a good leader is a high-performing culture. A healthy workforce provides excellent results for a business on many levels — a better work product, less expensive turnover and better customer service. It seems obvious but, unfortunately, too many work cultures are dysfunctional. (I’ve seen it firsthand.) In fact, a recent Gallup study showed that only 36 percent of America’s workforce is engaged at work.
As the owner of an eco-friendly car wash chain, I know that engaged employees are critical to success. Our motto at Bliss is that We make a difference one car at a time. It’s not only about what we do; it’s about who we are.
The “we” is every person on my team. I must ensure that each member of my team takes pride in what they do. Fulfilled, engaged employees add immeasurable value to any business. I know this because I have such a team.
How am I lucky enough to work with them? While I won’t share a detailed checklist of creating a high-performing culture, I do have three simple rules I always follow.
Communication. No matter what their role in an organization, every employee has to understand why they’re doing any task, large or small. They need to be aware of how their work fits into the larger scope of the organization and why it’s valuable. Feedback, education, and open-door policies have to be in place. We share successes at Bliss and always are available to answer questions and give constructive and positive feedback to our team. We see our team grow as they learn more and more about our business and the eco-friendly choices we make to keep our planet cleaner.
Motivation. Believing in your team is essential; you can’t motivate them without giving them leeway. Lack of trust becomes apparent to workers when they feel second-guessed, and they ultimately become unmotivated. Even when some of my teammates are having hard times and perhaps not performing at their best, I make it a policy to give them chances to improve. One of my managers recently said about our culture, “I am given latitude to manage, and I give the same latitude my team. I treat people well; without my team, I cannot be successful.” I was thrilled to hear this because it’s that “from the top” motivating that permeates a culture.
Care. I am an immigrant and worked very hard, in various jobs, to become a CEO of my own company. I have been on the front lines, washing cars myself and so I empathize with those just starting out and working long hours. Another thing, I view my team as my extended family. An example of how I showed my concern for my team is shutting down operations last year. That’s right, at the beginning of the pandemic, I voluntarily closed our car washes out of an abundance of safety. I did this because preserving the health of employees and our communities was paramount. We didn’t know much about COVID-19 then and were in the dark about its contagiousness. To say there was panic in the air is an understatement. I needed to show my team that I valued them and cared about their wellbeing, so I continued to pay them while we were closed. I couldn’t have left them fearful about their health as well as wondering about money. When we reopened, we had a motivated team who were grateful to have a healthy workplace.
I stand today with a team of over 100 men and women who provide the best customer service in the industry. We’re still dealing with the pandemic and still taking precautions for employees and our customers. But we’re doing it with confidence and with pleasure. We are passionate and contagiously optimistic. A high-performing culture indeed.