How to Create a Culture of Excellence
Our company is known for many things—SEO, content marketing, lead generation, being fully remote— but what I most want us to be known for is our Culture of Excellence.
What exactly is a Culture of Excellence? It’s a shared understanding amongst a team, evident to anyone they interact with, that they deliver an excellent outcome. In our line of work, that means a phenomenal ROI for our clients. On a sports team, it means a championship. For a nonprofit, it means a significant advancement of its cause.
While that outcome is the primary focus of a business, a Culture of Excellence has many positive downstream effects: a prosperous workforce, a feeling of integration and pride, and a sense of well-being.
In this article, I describe what a Culture of Excellence looks like; and, using our company as an example, break down its practical execution in the form of values, hiring practices, best practices, and standard operating procedures.
Building A Culture of Excellence
Every company has values, whether they’re express or implied. You should encourage values that contribute directly to excellence, and take care not to foster a culture that accepts subpar work. In our firm, our values are:
- Results. We achieve a high ROI for our clients.
- Expertise. We demonstrate a distinct knowledge of our niche of marketing, which is reflected in the high quality of our work.
- Trust. Our clients can rely on us to make decisions that impact their business; to protect the information they share; and to act with their best interests in mind.
- Communication. We convey our ideas clearly so that the cause and effect relationship between our work and its results is easy to understand.
- Engagement. We bring a high level of energy, interest, and effort to our work, making our clients’ lives easier in ways they might not have expected.
Culture of Excellence Hiring Practices
Once a company’s values are clear, its most valuable asset in its pursuit of excellence is its team. Here are the hiring practices we use in our business to support our Culture of Excellence:
- Only hire people about whom we are highly excited after the initial interview – no likes, just loves
- Seek out people who are curious and “know how to think”
- Experience is important; intelligence and eagerness to learn are more important
- Hire people who have different perspectives and experiences to share, knowing that diversity of thought adds to the richness of our company’s ideas
- Before making a hiring decision, assess the candidate’s personality and organic fit within the team they’d be joining; to that end, have them meet several members of that team before making a final decision
Culture of Excellence Best Practices
In a Culture of Excellence, a company’s best practices are the actions its team members take to ensure an excellent outcome. They can either be categorized under the company’s values, as they are below, or broken down by department. Here are some of our company’s best practices:
- To ensure excellent results for our clients:
- Deeply understand our clients’ short and long term goals and tailor our strategy to those goals
- When a client gives feedback, go beyond careful listening and ‘read between the lines’ to stay in close alignment with them
- Make each piece of content the best one targeting that keyword that exists online
- Focus on results, analyzing the data and searching for ways to exceed our targets
- To maintain a high level of engagement:
- Pause and truly think in meetings
- Follow your curiosity, even if it seems tangential
- Openly question the accepted wisdom and best practices of the company, knowing that subjecting them to stress will only make them better
- Take a calculated risk when you see an opportunity to achieve a better result
- To communicate effectively:
- Communicate strategy and recommendations clearly so that clients see the direct link between their goals and our work
- To demonstrate results, use data placed in the context of the client’s KPIs and overall goals
- When introducing a new initiative, present an ownership structure for the change process and an expectation of what success looks like for everyone involved
- If you see a potential problem developing, speak up so solutions can be discussed and risks & benefits can be weighed
Culture of Excellence SOPs
A business ensures its best practices are being followed by maintaining standard operating procedures (SOPs). These are specific practices that, taken collectively, become the practical execution of a Culture of Excellence. Below are examples from our company’s SOPs in three of our departments:
- Web Design Department
The SOPs in this department lay out the order of operations for new web design projects. Here’s an example of a basic SOP from our QA process:
- Content Creation Department
Content creation SOPs describe the way our writers should write pages or articles for clients. In some cases, a template is more intuitive than a list of instructions. Here’s an example of a template SOP for blog creation:
- Campaign Strategy Department
The SOPs in this department are high level guides to laying out the core strategy and reasoning that drives an SEO campaign. Because campaign strategy is fundamental to client success, SOPs in this department are lengthy. Here’s the table of contents from a 23 page SOP on creating a Content Strategy Roadmap:
Building A Culture of Excellence
I hope this guide has helped you to think about how you can foster a Culture of Excellence within your own company. While our values, best practices, and SOPs are tailored to allow us to deliver superb ROIs for our clients in our role as an SEO agency, they should give you a basis on which to create or refine your own.
If you’d like to get in touch with us to discuss our Culture of Excellence or discuss an SEO campaign, you can reach us here.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.