Establishing a truly valued culture in any organization takes a focused effort, collaboration and, of course, commitment to living these values day after day, year after year. When you add in additional factors, like having remote members of your team, it becomes even more important to achieve these for the happiness of your team and success of your business. But what if half of your team not only works in a different office, but a completely different country and culture? Will Scott recently had the opportunity to work with Randall Brody and his team at Tax Samaritan to take their business, and its stakeholders, to the next level by implementing a valued culture.
The life of an expat is often romanticized, but when it comes to doing your taxes, the stakes are high. There are many different and complicated rules and regulations, with mistakes often resulting in severe penalties. Randall Brody and the team at Tax Samaritan have been helping expats with their taxes since 1997- that's more than a quarter of a century! In the last 8 years, Tax Samaritan has grown from just two to six full time team members, and Brody decided that it was time to focus on culture.
Like many entrepreneurs, Brody started his business’ culture journey on his own. Through research and resources like podcasts and blogs, he came to the realization that his current perceived culture wasn’t easily memorable or recallable. “I wanted to really bring the culture alive, with the team embracing it day to day. I knew it would be impactful to align the Tax Samaritan strategy and purpose.” Eventually, Brody came across The Culture Fix: Bring Your Culture Alive, Make It Thrive, and Use It to Drive Performance. In fact, he loved it so much that he not only reached out to Will to implement The Culture Fix in his business, but left a glowing 5-star review:
“What an amazing book for any business owner looking to expand and grow their business by bringing your culture alive and make it thrive.
The presumption of this book is that if your culture is not alive in your organization, your company is not thriving towards its potential.
The method Will offers is a simple and easy approach to bring culture alive in your organization, establish your core value identity and more. To this end, he offers a thorough description of a set of practical tools and techniques in a thoughtful and engaging read.
I can't say this enough-- if you buy one business book this year, make it this one.”
With half of the Tax Samaritan team based in Las Vegas, NV and the other half based in the Philippines, Will was prepared for possible roadblocks in the implementation process. However, the team was not only extremely well-receiving of the process but it also went a lot smoother than anticipated. Brody shared that “The process was incredible. Not overwhelming, or unwieldy, it was guided with intention, baby steps that were digestible.”
Brody was also excited about the amount of great feedback they were able to collect from team members and even clients through surveys and interviews. According to him, their perspective really drew out the qualities that makes Tax Samaritan unique, validating the original vision and long term goals for the business.
The main goal of Tax Samaritan is to provide their clients ‘Peace of Mind Experiences’ through their services. We knew that would be a major part of their Core Purpose and imagery. Through surveys, 1-1 interviews, and group discussion, Tax Samaritan’s Core Values were also quickly uncovered and eagerly agreed upon. Check out the results:
By 2025, we will scale the summit to deliver 5,549 Peace of Mind Experiences to our neighbors around the world so that they can enjoy their lives more
Eager to Engage We are informative and respond in a timely fashion with relevant, effective communication
Determined to Deliver We are knowledgeable and disciplined about provinging insane service with simplicity and integrity
Happy to Help We are compassionate, helpful and treasure relationships (just like a samaritan)
Imagery that spans cultures
The brainstorm and CoreVal experience was full of energy and positivity, so we were excited to put the pen to paper to create imagery and pick a theme song that would really speak to the stakeholders. But this is where the culture differences really came into play. A mountain with a summit (aka the goal of providing ‘Peace of Mind Experiences’) was a powerful vision that everyone could relate to. However when it came to the purpose of the mountain, there were different cultural understandings! Where the stateside team envisioned snow and skiing, the international team envisioned hiking. Luckily through great creativity and a talented designer, we were able to merge the two into a cohesive representation of both cultures. And the song? Well, a classic that the whole world knows: Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.
Notice and Nominate
Finally, we created a Notice and Nomination scheme to keep these values alive each and everyday! You may notice on the image a couple of characters associated with the CoreVals:
And check out some of the awesome nominations we’ve ‘caught’ since launching:
“I also nominate Xandra for being Swifty. She's "Eager to Engage" and makes sure that client's messages are responded to on time. Client Ehrin had a follow up question and I see she responded on my behalf very quickly. Keep it up, Xandra!!!”
"I nominate @Rhoda & @Xandra for being Zummies :-) You guys were “Happy to Help” with that call to Alex Rose. Thank you!"
“I nominate Rhoda for being Pommer & Zummie. She's "Determined to Deliver" & "Happy to Help". She took the initiative to launch a follow-up email campaign to our retention clients to get more of them to hopefully respond and re engage with us. Great job, Rhoda!”
Not only was this process amazing during the discovery and implementation process, but there is no better feeling than seeing these values thriving for months and years to come!
It’s All About Results
When it comes to implementing a valued culture, the best way to measure its impact and success is through a post-launch survey distributed to all stakeholders. From our initial brainstorm sessions and meetings, it was clear that this team was ‘in it to win it’. When it came to the results, it was even more validating to see exactly how embraced these new values are.
Check out these before and afters:
In their comments about their post-launch culture, the team shared thoughts like:
“It is more structured and defined. It's also been made simple.”
“I believe we have a solid foundation now to ensure the culture is sustained throughout all employees day-to-day activities and other areas. We still have some work to do to keep things progressing in the right direction and keep up momentum.”
Then, in a rare event, 100% of the Tax Samaritan team responded ‘yes’ when asked all of the following questions:
Are the company’s core values more memorable and referable now? 100% YES!
Have the posters, imagery and other collateral improved the memorability of the core values? 100% YES!
Have you noticed the leaders hire, unhire and lead in line with the core values? 100% YES!
Overall, do you feel better about working in the company? 100% YES!
According to one stakeholder, “With clearly defined and easy to remember core values, I feel we have a better idea of direction and how to make correct decisions for situations we encounter.” Now that's what we call results!
Thriving culture across time zones
Whether you’ve got a team scattered across the United States or around the world, it is not only possible to instill a thriving culture but imperative. If you have been thinking about the culture in your organization, there has never been a better time to act than now. Just take it from Brody, “Don’t wait until it gets bad. There’s no bad time to start this process!”. In just a couple months and 7 simple steps, he is now at the helm of a company that is healthy from the top down.
And you aren’t alone! We understand that deciding how to start implementing changes can be overwhelming. The Culture Fix® exists to not only provide your team with a clear pathway, but also guide you through a transformational process in just 90 days. We know you care about your people, which is why we support you in helping your team love where they work, why they work, and who they work with. Contact us today for a complimentary culture assessment and together we will design the best pathway for your business to achieve these goals.