As a business owner, the team we’ve built, and are continuing to build at Revel, is what I’m most proud of. Each and every one of us embodies the values (or as we call them, key behaviors) that are central to everything Revel does.

Through paying my dues in the Big Four, founding, growing and selling Chicago’s premier entertainment accounting practice, and now with Revel, I’ve thought a lot about what makes a great team. You’ll often hear that all it takes is having the right people in the right seats. But this advice is incomplete.

The right people in the right seats means nothing if they’re not on the right bus 

The concept of having the right people in the right seats is hugely popular in the business world. Go on, just Google that phrase: you’ll get hundreds of hits. It originates from Jim Collin’s classic business book, ‘Good to Great.’ 

“You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going . . . leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” 

The “who” of your business is super important. But even having the best people in all the right seats doesn’t guarantee results if they’re not on the right bus. A bus driver can’t have a successful journey if some of their passengers don’t have the legroom they need to stretch out, or half the bus wants windows open while the other half wants them closed. So how can you ensure you’re getting the right people in the right seats on the right bus? 

Culture is what sets your business apart 

The biggest factor for deciding which bus is right for which people is culture. Culture not only helps people decide what bus they need to be on, but it also helps the people already there know they made the right choice. They got on the right bus. 

All businesses sell a service or a product. The reality is, no matter how unique your business is, if you give almost anyone the right amount of time and resources, they could recreate your product or service. The only truly differentiating aspect of a business – the thing that sets it apart, that makes it stands out, that makes or breaks its success – is culture. 

Culture is felt from the inside out 

Naturally, the people on the inside will feel your business’ culture. But those on the outside – your vendors, your customers, and prospects – will all be able to feel your business’ culture, too. If you want to work on your company culture, but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips: 

  • Live by your values: choosing your business’ values is an important task. But perhaps even more important than selecting the right values is living up to them. Customers and prospective hires will always be able to tell if your proclaimed values are just text on a website. When you decide what’s most important to your business – for Revel it’s being socially conscious, young at heart, and always learning – you’ll also make a dedication to live out those values every day. 

  • Encourage communication: good communication throughout your business won’t just ensure you’re delivering a quality service. It also helps you get a sense of where your company culture is at the present, where it’s excelling, and where you can make improvements. Consider putting “culture” on the agenda for your next team meet, or even scheduling a retreat dedicated to company culture. 

  • Be the example: You’re the owner. The leader. The quarterback of your team. Everything stems from you, and that’s why it’s so important that you set a positive example for your company culture. If you tell your team to prioritize their mental health but push yourself to a point of burnout, that’s not a good example. If you preach integrity but keep important information from the rest of the team, that’s not a good example. When it comes to culture, adopt a “do as I say, AND as I do,” mentality. 

When you pour energy into making your culture crystal clear – making sure everyone on your team knows the rules by which you play when you show up to work together – all the other pieces of a great team will fall into place. You’ll start attracting the right people to your bus, and easily find the right seats to put them in. It’ll still take some work, but when you’re confident about the bus you’re driving and who’s on it, you’ll get more excited about where it’s going, too. 

Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts and comments below!

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