Resource Partner Highlight – Advance Iowa

Resource Partner Highlight – Advance Iowa

By: Mikayla Wahl, Intern, BCS

Does your company value its employees and place an importance on people? In the midst of the stresses that comes with running a business, a healthy company culture can be easily forgotten. This month I sat down with Dan Beenken, Director of Advance Iowa at the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation to talk about how to jump-start your company culture with the help of some valuable resources offered by Advance Iowa.

Company Culture and Business Growth

Company culture is constantly overlooked as an important contributor to business growth. “Company culture is a key component of business growth; however, many companies do not realize the connector. People are often forgotten in the demand for timelines, effectiveness, efficiency and profits,” says Beenken. So how can you optimize your company culture to stimulate business growth? “When a business aligns their culture with business strategy, high levels of people performance and results follow,” Beenken suggests.

A Successful Company Culture

So what does a successful company culture look like? At Advance Iowa, Beenken and his colleagues work with clients to determine just that. “The companies that we have worked with have been deliberate with creating a strategic plan that engages employees and recognizes culture as a part of the plan. Examples include a company that creates a university learning environment every summer for its key staff. They build a curriculum around a key objective of the strategic plan and roll out a fun, engaging schedule of activities that supports the company goals and values the employees in the process,” says Beenken.

For companies that are looking to fix issues with their current company culture rather than create an entirely new one, Beenken offers this example, “Another firm has used the strategic planning process to gain an understanding of their current culture and communication issues. It was obvious that part of the ownership group was contradicting other members of that group. The planning process brought those issues out in the open and allowed the firm to deal with them in a way that created buy in for all involved.”

How Advance Iowa Can Help

Advance Iowa works with businesses all throughout Iowa providing services that  create a healthy company culture through all facets of their business. Strategic planning is one such service. “Strategic planning helps shape culture.  Company culture is an active, organizing process of shared values and beliefs.  Every company has a culture; many just do not have a pulse on what that is. Culture can be positive or negative. Strategic planning processes aligns the two together for the benefit of the employee and the company,” Beenken explains.

He also talks about CEO/Owner Peer Groups, saying, “CEO/Owner Peer Group tables are available throughout the state and meet monthly. Through a trained facilitator owners explore a variety of topics, many which directly or indirectly tie to company culture.”

Beenken also highlights the importance of Succession Planning to company culture in any business. “Succession Planning is one of Advance Iowa’s most popular services. If an owner does not have a succession plan put together it can leave employees with a lot of uncertainty and impact employees performance. The companies that start planning 5-10 years before a succession is needed are able to support a positive company culture and foster a productive transfer of leadership in the future,” says Beenken.

Don’t ignore your company culture. Make people a priority for you and your business! Check out all Advance Iowa has to offer on their website

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